I would like to start by a small anecdote: about 25 years ago I was responsible for a small group of draftsmen in the sign manufacturing industry. We all had our large drafting tables, parallel rulers, calculating machines, pencils, squares and of course erasers. One day, a sales representative made me privy to a white piece of paper with a computer generated line drawing of a geometrical shape. I asked him what this was all about and he then replied with a confident tone that one day, our drafting department would be obsolete and he would not have to wait so long for his project to be processed. This small piece of paper was the beginning of the end for draftsmen as a profession: the computer assisted drawing era was starting and technical drafting as we knew it, was dead!
This same occurrence has repeated itself to me a few years ago and was confirmed to me recently by savvy computer programmers. Electronic communication tools are rapidly making their way into the signage industry through digital signage, hand held wayfinding assistance, electronic displays, digital display elements and soon to come digital store front signs. We will one day totally rely on software applications and visual projections to communicate, identify and advertise to the general public and this to the detriment of traditional signs. As the computer aided drawing (CAD) programs today provide engineers, designers, architects and technicians the possibility to perform and express a multitude of details and calculations, and simultaneously communicate amongst each other, the new digital assisted signage communication tools will also facilitate the application of messages, symbols, colors or brand changeovers that we will be able to control and modify at any distance at any time.
I predict that this trend will redefine the signage industry which will soon be perceived as a service provider of digital advertising displays rather than signs. Just like the drafting profession is now known as CAD the sign industry will be known as the DAS (digital assisted signage).