The digital art market, and digital art frames in particular, has been spoken about before in Connected Home+Business but at the time, the technology was limited.
Since then, the market has grown exponentially with several companies entering the sector.
Among the companies leading the charge is Niio – a high-end distribution platform for media art that includes film, 4K video, interactive works and VR. Niio has made a name for itself by empowering a global network of artists, galleries and libraries with a set of tools that assist in the management, distribution and display of their art.
Now it is becoming available to homes around the world. Niio co-founder and chief executive Rob Anders says that while the company’s approach to digital art is unique, the technology is pivotal to a piece of art being represented as intended by the artist.
The platform consists of two cloud-based parts; the infrastructure known as Niio ArtCloud and the displayer, Niio ArtPlayer.
“The cloud infrastructure is so important,” says Rob.
“Basically, we’re giving content suppliers a set of tools to safeguard and preserve their work rather than them using Google Drive or Dropbox. The cloud allows them to self-publish their art, define all the commercial terms, and it can either be accessed online or via a smart phone or tablet.
“The cloud platform has a proprietary rendering infrastructure which creates limited editions of the work, along with watermarked versions, and secure DRM versions that have different resolutions to make them suitable for different displays. After all, we need to make sure that they’re being displayed properly.
“Niio ArtCloud also acts as a distribution platform that allows collectors and art enthusiasts to access work made available by these artists. This caters to an audience that may only want to loan works or browse pieces for a small subscription fee per month as well as collectors that prefer the exclusivity.
“The second part of the tool is the Niio ArtPlayer which can be applied to any type of screen, projector or VR headset. The soft ware can be connected to any piece of electronic equipment via HDMI. The player will immediately run a performance test that will relay back the display capabilities to the Niio ArtCloud what version of the artwork is most suitable – based on the artist’s desired guidelines for that piece.
To complement the experience, the mobile app acts as a cloud-based remote which allows the user to manage their art on multiple screens and still discover other new content – all on the one subscription.
As a whole, Niio’s approach to the artistic community was to give the power back to the content creators and allow a stress-free, simple way to self-publish.
“We think, with artists, you shouldn’t limit their creativity or the way they distribute their art and that’s why it’s important that we’re agnostic in that regard. Work should be able to be viewed on any canvas the artist wants and should be experienced by the audience appropriately,” Rob says.
“They essentially use us as a publishing platform and they can work privately within their existing networks. Often artists want to transfer their artworks from one entity to another, which they’re able to do while still defining all the rules. This includes things like how long it can be accessed for and if there’s any commercial charge.”
The creation of Niio had a big focus on not only the art and design community, with the development of the platform, but also the AV community because of the integration required. Rob explains that because of the growing market for digital art frames, there is a big opportunity for integrators to expand their services.
“There is no other platform that is as flexible as ours in terms of supporting all the different types of formats across all types of hardware devices. Considering a lot of integrators want to differentiate themselves, digital art is the perfect opportunity to do that,” says Rob.
“The content offering is quite broad and when you throw interactive media into that mix as well, then it gives integrators a chance to expand their business through a totally new level of experiential offering for their customers. From a marketing perspective as well, it gives them a cool story to tell – it’s nice to talk about a brand new projector but when those pieces are shown in conjunction, it consolidates the selling point.”
Niio’s vision, according to Rob, is to enable and stimulate the digital art market, exposing people around the world to meaningful, immersive experiences from the very best of video and media artists.
“It’s not just a business opportunity for us and integrators around the world, it’s an opportunity to have a positive impact on the way we’re living our lives in a digital world. It gives people access to something that’s a bit more regal.”