Why worry about digital signage? Pro AV doesn’t typically get involved in signage however; new advances in touchscreens, video mapping and the drive to serve up greater interactivity are moving integrators in the world of digital signs.
A snap shot of Times Square these days shows digital ads which integrate photos and videos taken by customers or a feed using a Twitter hashtag. What about those touch wall installations at expos and museums? Digital signage definitely got a lot of attention at the ISE 2013. A regular favorite as the central hall at ISE, 2013 did not disappoint. There curved screens and interactive screens where consumers could manage content with their mobile phones and tablets.
Besides different shapes from curved to to triangular, the size and resolution was pushed to new limits creating virtual walls using 4K resolution. With companies like NEC, Samsung, LG, Sony and Christie looking for new ways to ‘wow’ audiences, it is certain that digital signage is going to be an expected feature outside of typical advertising. Sony’s Bravia line showcased at ISE 2013 runs with an HTML5 based browser for content that can be delivered by a local server, cloud space or USB device.
Think of how prominent digital signage was at the 2012 London Olympics. Screen all around Olympic park and other venues highlighted events, offered replays and close-ups all for free by those who did not get tickets. Sponsors were able to get their messages out en masse while providing value to those watching. As digital displays become features to high profile events and upscale stores around the world, consumers and event attendees will expect to see them more and more.
Digital signs are typically thought of in outdoor applications such as buildings and sports stadiums, but there is also a space there for larger indoor events. As businesses look to interact with consumers with direct communications, it will be up to Pro AV integrators to consider using some unlikely components to achieve leading edge designs.
With videowalls gaining more popularity than ever, system integrators have more opportunities to use this technology in different configurations. Even if the displays are individually placed across multiple locations the effect of impressions is still great as it’s easy to control many more installations over the LAN. Modern mounting systems even allow for multiple videowalls of different sizes used along with single monitors distributed throughout a facility.
The design considerations are pretty basic. You will need displays, media players, a mounting system, a content delivery and control system and the communication infrastructure.
Although it may be tempting to use consumer grade displays for single monitor locations, they are not means to run for extended periods. Commercial grade flat panels can run from 16 to 24 hours a day and can be mounted vertically or horizontally for more design freedom. Commercial monitors also have the option for IR remote lockout and RS232 control capability.
Sometimes a short throw projector for rear-projection can even be a more appropriate solution for a big message that has a small budget. If there is more continuity of the message without the worry how tightly the monitor bezels will line up, then rear projection is the answer.
This is really nothing more than a PC. Special players in the size of a paperback book can be installed directly behind the monitor lessening the need for extenders. Some monitors even come with onboard computers.
Videowalls should use mounting systems specifically built for tiling displays. These systems line up perfectly so the resulting message is continuous since they allow for micro-adjustments. The human eye can easily pick up on misalignment so it’s important to have everything in line. Mounting systems are now offered in so many different configurations from free standing to suspended.
Delivering the content is a high priority and the latest control systems use smart devices connected by a regular Ethernet network. This eliminates the switches and video processors. Being able to connect monitors that are not close together via Cat5e or Cat6 cable comes at a much lower costs while able to go for long distances versus regular AV cables.
With technology and lower prices meeting in the middle, it’s expected that videowalls will grow 400% over the next few years. For this reason, it would be wise to understand all the options to know what a videowall system is capable of and also how much it costs to deploy now and over time.
Herman Pro AV has a wide selection of media players, controllers and distribution system transmitters for your next videowall design.
The AV landscape now demands HDMI, DVI or Display Port capability in any well designed system. Due to the well known distance limitations of these platforms it is almost always necessary to use an extender to achieve reliable performance beyond 50 feet. The latest generations of digital video extenders use HDBaseT technology. HDBaseT extenders enable digital video to be sent via cat5E, cat6 or cat6A network cable. Distances up to 100 meters(about 330 feet) are easily achieved and in most cases a shielded cable is recommended.
Herman recommends Belden shielded network cable. Belden cables provide the most headroom and guaranteed performance to spec. Whether you need riser or plenum, cat5E, cat 6 or cat6A, Belden has what you need.
Click here to view the Belden lineup of shielded network cable available from Herman.