Digital Signage

Sign Age: A Big Wheel In Vegas

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Checking out the city’s latest attraction.

In early April, the world’s tallest observation wheel, dubbed the High Roller, officially launched into motion, giving Las Vegas visitors and avid photographers stunning views of the city. This 550-foot-high, brilliantly lit Ferris wheel is located at The LINQ, Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s newest open-air shopping area on the Strip. With more than 30 unique retail and dining establishments, The LINQ also features four engaging digital touchscreens, a towering three-sided LED display informally referred to as the Pylon or Marquee, and a medley of colorful lights called the Vortex, all designed to provide the digital generation with an exciting experience.

As with most projects, several companies worked with Caesars Entertainment for more than a year, and will continue to do so as The LINQ attracts new retail businesses. Above The Quad hotel entrance, the Vortex, conceived by Hetzel Design, evokes a cove of colorful dancing light shapes from flashing, multicolored LEDs.
The 130-foot-high LED Marquee, which beckons viewers from the Strip, was designed and fabricated by Young Sign Company (YESCO). Brian Henry of Brian Henry Design, who worked at YESCO with the company’s Design Director, Jim Gietzen, during the design phase of the project, said that the upper portion consists of LEDs with 16mm pixel spacing and the lower section with 10mm LEDs. “We factored in viewing distances and costs in our design, allowing for higher resolution in the lower section where it is viewed at closer distances,” explained Henry. “Two of the display sides facing Las Vegas Boulevard measure 20 feet in width, and the third is 15 feet wide.”

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The three-sided LED Marquee at The LINQ enables unified content display without bezel interruptions. Left: Partial view of the Vortex.

As an independent contractor, Henry worked on the control system and also produces some animation sequences for the Caesars Entertainment network. “The control system we developed for the LINQ utilizes YESCO’s proprietary CMS called PrismView. Along with custom programming, that allows complex RGB lighting to be controlled just like a conventional digital sign. This is a revolutionary step that now allows the architectural lighting and marketing messages to be managed, deployed and synchronized across a single unified interface,” noted Henry.

PrismView is a Microsoft Windows-based solution developed by Graham Beland and team at YESCO. Caesars’ internal team oversees ongoing content creation and management, including content produced by third-party providers. The beauty of LED displays is that they can be designed for seamless content display. “The physical separation of display surfaces on the Marquee is only at the vertical corners on the east elevation,” Henry said. “There is no bezel area as is typically associated with LCD videowalls. The Marquee is a completely unified display with no visible seams.”
In addition to the dramatic LED signage that draws visitors to The LINQ, there are four fun touchscreens right at street level. These interactive displays feature a 72-inch LCD in portrait orientation with a 42-inch LCD in landscape mode above it. The multi-touch screens invite visitors to explore the area, select special offers from stores and restaurants, and then have the information emailed or texted to them. The built-in HD camera enables users to take and email photos.

“A popular feature of The LINQ units is the ability to take a photo and post it on social media,” said George Burciaga, CEO of elevate DIGITAL, the company that designed the system and developed the interactive software. “Our platform is changing the dynamics of signage at street level. Instead of waiting for the user to respond to an advertisement at a later time, we’ve built in calls to actions, initiating viewer engagement through dropdown menus.”

Burciaga said that outdoor interactive displays at The LINQ were custom-assembled to elevate’s design specification by YESCO. “The turnkey solution, complete with integrated multi-touch surface, mod-pack [modular device PC], HD cameras, speaker, barcode scanner, magnetic credit card reader, wireless antenna, connectivity via hard line and software, is available from elevate,” noted Burciaga. The software can also be licensed from elevate, independent of the hardware. “Our enterprise-based software is configurable and offers a full slate of features, including mobile interactivity, social media, facial recognition, viewer analytics, APIs and more,” Burciaga explained.

The LINQ project was not exempt from location- and logistics-related installation challenges, but early planning avoided major detours. For example, when discussing design criteria, Henry recalled, “We knew the Marquee had to be tall and slender to make the most visual impact from the narrow sightlines, and we had to make special accommodations to the footprint of the sign to allow for emergency vehicles that would enter from Las Vegas Boulevard.”

Referring to the enormity of the project, Henry said, “The Marquee and Vortex are engineering marvels from a mechanical, electrical and control standpoint. Not to mention the hundreds of master craftsmen, electricians and project managers who applied their individual expertise to the project.”

Digital Signage Expo hosts a Live Installation Tour in conjunction with its annual conference. The tour gets sold out early, but this year, the organizers added a second bus to take more than 50 attendees to visit customer-facing installations and get behind-the-scenes insights. If you don’t have a chance to check out the latest Vegas signage attractions during InfoComm this June or later during the year, be sure to reserve your space on the DSE tour next March. (For information about DSE’s 2015 event, go to www.digitalsignageexpo.net/more-information.)

Seeing how latest signage wonders actually work in the real world could inspire you to create the next truly unique environment, one that both amazes the eye and connects with thousands of consumers.

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