The Building Blocks of Digital Displays

The Building Blocks of Digital Displays

According to a Spiceworks survey of more than 150 IT professionals in the U.S., about half of respondents are already using commercial-grade digital signage, primarily for public information, internal communications, and/or marketing promotions. Of those, almost three-quarters are using indoor LCD signs, while 24% use outdoor LCD, and 20% reported use direct view LED.3 If these distinctions sound like nit-picking to you, they’re not – how a sign is built determines where it can be used. Here’s a quick overview of some significant differences.

Indoor LCD
Most indoor flat-panel displays use LCD (liquid crystal display) technology. The commercial-grade version of displays used in commercial TVs, LCD displays typically consist of a protective glass layer, an LCD sheet (a liquid sandwiched between two plates), with a light source behind them. Today’s LCD displays often use LED backlights to light the display. They have brightness measurements up to 700 nits, which is bright and readable in indoor situations but washes out in full sunlight.

IT professionals reported the biggest challenges they experience or expect to experience is managing complexity – specifically, handling content management (49%) and updates (42%) – as well as keeping costs down (40%).

Biggest Challenges for IT Pros
• 49% Handling content management
• 42% Handling content updates
• 40% Keeping costs down

Content poses several challenges for organizations. One, of course, is the challenge of creating it in the first place. Then to upload content, IT professionals may need to learn how to use a proprietary content management system, and may also need to make seasonal, weekly or even daily changes to what’s on-screen. And they may need to do all those tasks across multiple display types and locations. These tasks can be tackled in-house or contracted to an agency or vendor, who can provide content, content management, network monitoring and other services. These tasks can also be addressed with an out-of-the-box digital signage solution that comes with content management software and templates to help you quickly design and schedule simple content.

The most basic cost in digital signage is the display hardware itself, which can be expensive, particularly in large installations. Traditional digital signage solutions often require separate media players or computers to host and play content. Complex installations can require additional mounting hardware, devices, and cables – along with the expertise to put it all together. Businesses have to consider the day-to-day costs of powering, maintaining and repairing the signage installation. Given this math, IT pros need solutions that are long-lasting, energy-efficient, and easy to deploy and maintain, with as few components as possible.

Reliability and Security
Another consideration is everything digital signage must weather, including actual weather such as extreme heat, cold, dust, and rain. In addition, digital signage is often located in public places with potential access by the general public. Outdoor displays can therefore be tagged and scratched. To keep both equipment and sensitive data safe, IT pros need digital signage solutions with strong built-in protections – not only from the elements but from deliberate physical damage.

Many IT professionals surveyed recognized potential benefits of digital signs, including improved internal communication, improved ambiance, increased marketing effectiveness, and increased audience engagement. Finding the digital signage solution that brings you and your organization the same level of satisfaction depends on a number of factors, including cost, reliability, ease of set up and management – as well as, of course, display quality. Here’s what the right digital signage could do for your business.

Out-of-the-box solutions
For promotional digital content to really work in busy environments, including retail and restaurants, it needs to not only be high quality and engaging but also easy to create and update on site. Plug-and-play commercial solutions offer smaller businesses all the tools they need to do their own digital signage right out of the box, including TV entertainment and custom content. More advanced solutions that leverage system-on-chip (SoC) processing integrate the media player into the display, reducing the need to install multiple devices and cables. WiFi-enabled displays allow remote, wire-less content updates. These integrated solutions have lower TCO and are more easily managed.

Custom solutions for more complex applications
Video walls with embedded media players can display stunning, high-quality visuals, showcase products/services, and help create an open, modern and friendly environment that encourages conversation and consultation. A large, high-brightness display installation that’s also easy to read through store or lobby windows can help draw in sidewalk traffic and prompt people to seek more information. These are examples of complex deployments that would likely benefit from support from an experienced digital signage integrator.

Large digital signage networks are increasingly built using smart signage displays that connect directly to the cloud over IP, enabling dynamic updates across multiple locations. Behind the scenes, software solution providers can leverage a software developers kit (SDK) that allows them to tap into the smart signage display’s built-in system-on-chip (SoC) media player. This approach can provide significant cost savings, as it eliminates the need for external media players and simplifies installation.

Direct View LEDs for Outdoor Use
An integrated digital signage program that includes outdoor signage can help grab attention, entertain and inform customers. Coordinating outdoor signs with indoor displays can encourage interest in new products, cross-promotions, and loyalty programs.

Direct view LEDs are bright and easy to see across a parking lot in any kind of weather and at any time of day or night. They’re also viewable from any angle, in any light. Commercial-grade components provide IT professionals with high uptime and reliability, as well as the ability to quickly update and upload new marketing campaigns.

Cover of Digital Signage is GrowingYour business runs fast. PDF Cover