In the opening of the 1988 hit movie Die Hard, a weary Bruce Willis walks up to a modern skyscraper guard desk, where there sits a touch screen office directory. “Cute Toy,” he says to the guard, using his finger to navigate the controls and type in the name of his wife. At that point in the movie, their marriage was in a rut, though it would eventually be saved by McClane (Bruce’s character) rescuing hostages and dispatching a bevy of villains.
More pertinent to building directory signage, the touch screen seen in the movie had a distinct purpose: to demonstrate that the building was innovative, and to show that it’s owner was a mover and shaker, one that would be worth the target of kidnappers and terrorists looking for a big score.
In the movie, the touch screen is a small screen, about 15 inches in size. It had a relatively mundane interface, one that wouldn’t win any awards in today’s web 2.0 world. Plus, in 1988, there was no internet, and it’s not a reach to suggest that the updating process wasn’t any easier than it is with a standard backlit directory, with name placards and scotch tape.
Perhaps this is why the touch screen directory featured in Die Hard didn’t exactly revolutionize office lobbies. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago when touch screen directories took their next big leap.
First, LCD technology is now affordable, allowing companies to upgrade to screens sizes from 32 to 65 inches and beyond. Also, as we all know well, LCD screens allow for incredible HD resolution content, far surpassing the limitations of 80s technology.
The rise of the Internet also makes for easy updates, allowing building managers to make changes to tenants and their people over the web instantly. The development of advanced creative tools makes for stunning visual graphics and engaging interactive bells and whistles. All of which brings the touch screen building directory back into the modern era.
Since the original Die Hard, Bruce Willis has since starred in three sequels (Die Hard 2, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard). Who knows, if there is a fifth, he may want to ask the screen writer to add a truly modern building directory to demonstrate the style and worth of the movie’s characters.