Is the Digital Signage Focus at ISE 2013 a Sign of the Times?

English: Times Square. New York City 2005

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.

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Videowall Design Considerations for Now and in the Future

Videowall Design Considerations for Now and in the FutureWith 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.

Media Players
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.

Mounting Systems
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.

Control System
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.

Herman Recommends Belden Shielded Network Cable

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.

AOC from C2G is a HDMI Win!

Today there are more than 2.2 billion HDMI enabled devices in use. As the pressures of Analog Sunset continue to move the industry towards its inevitable future of living within an all-digital infrastructure, it’s more important than ever that you have a dependable, simple and high quality HDMI connectivity solution. C2G (formerly Cables To Go) was the first to market with a true HDMI solution based on an active optical cable and their product is setting the performance standard.

The AOC consists of an HDMI connection that runs into a media converter chip. A media converter is a device the changes the nature of a signal so it can move within a different topology. Media converters are often seen within data center solutions as an interface between UTP category copper wiring and single or multi-mode fiber optic solutions. In this case, C2G has used its familiarity with IT connectivity to create a wide bandwidth (high speed, 10.2Gb/s) HDMI channel that leverages the immense capacity of dual fiber strands. Hence AOC is a fiber AV connection for HDMI.

The “A” in AOC stands for “active”. The media converter chips need to be powered. Here is where C2G really struck gold. They mounted a USB connection on a 24” lead to the sink end of the AOC assembly. The sink, or display if you prefer, is by its very nature a powered device. And since almost all new LCD flat panels or integrated interactive white boards (IWB) offer USB connectivity, what C2G did was to find a convenient source of power (USB ports, by design, can supply 500mA @ 5 volts) that places no demands upon power management, doesn’t jam a wall-wart into an inconvenient installation, and requires no additional connectivity steps. The USB connection plugs into the projector or flat panel at the sink (display) end and powers both ends of the AOC assembly!

If it’s not enough to create a product that fully support HDMI High Speed 1080p capabilities while shunning RFI, EMI and ground loops as only a fiber connection can, consider this. The AOC is plenum rated and has a 3mm minimum bend radius. You read that right – 3mm! This is the thinnest, most flexible HDMI connection solution on the market.
Herman Pro AV now has the AOC from C2G in stock in the following length’s:

C2G 10 Meter Active Optical Cable (AOC)
C2G 15 Meter Active Optical Cable (AOC)
C2G 20 Meter Active Optical Cable (AOC)

C2G is planning 25 and possibly 30 meter lengths this summer. Step into the leading edge of 21st Century digital AV connectivity with the Active Optical HDMI cable from C2G. Ready for your project now.