Minnesota-made touchscreen directories take over Mall of America

They'll tell you the fastest route to where you want to go, and how long it'll take to walk there.

Rather than staring at a dimly-lit board with tiny letters for more than 3 minutes at a time, visitors at Mall of America are now getting directions from big touchscreens in under a minute.

And that's why the megamall added more.

Mall of America announced it has nearly 100 of the digital directories spread across its 5.6 million square feet of space.

If you've been to MOA recently you've probably seen them – they're big touch screens, and you can search for stores and restaurants by name or type. When you pick one, it'll tell you which direction to go, and about how long it'll take you to walk there. You can also get the directions sent to your phone.

"We want our guests to spend their time having fun at MOA, not searching for answers, and these directories save a significant amount of time and ease navigation around the property," said Jill Renslow, the mall's SVP of marketing and business development.

It's powered by a Minnesota company

The boards are the work of Minnesota-based Express Image. The company says there have been 700,000 unique uses since the installation first started a month ago, and people are using them for an average of less than 40 seconds – a steep drop from the 3-plus minutes people would stand around the old directory boards.

Both the mall and Express Image bill the project as a "first-of-its-kind," "industry-leading" effort, with Express Image President Jeff Sarenpa calling the result " something we both envisioned and can be proud of – a unique, truly revolutionary personal wayfinding experience.

The Twin Cities Business Journal reported a test pilot with six of the boards started in November.

The touchscreen boards use Google's Chrome operating system, and can be used in nine different languages besides English: Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Somali, Portuguese, Hmong, Japanese and Arabic.

Mall of America gets about 40 million visitors every year, with 40 percent of those tourists.

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