Digital Signage

Wrapping It Up: It’s time for higher resolutions.

This was the year that honest attempts were made to use many of the latest technologies in digital signage applications. Though not every new deployment worked out well, many did—largely due to the expertise of their project teams. If you make resolutions for the New Year, you may want to consider expanding your knowledge and gaining expertise in the new media, especially mobile and metrics.

The challenges this year surrounded the launch of 4K systems and a plethora of new mobile devices and apps. One hidden challenge that put the brakes on a high-visibility DOOH project in New York City was privacy or, rather, the public’s sensitivity to this issue. When the City and its tech partners sought to combine “beacon” technology with free WiFi hotspots at pay-phone kiosks, they ran into a virtual buzz-saw of negative publicity due to a lack of public and media understanding of the technology.

Expertise in AV-IT systems goes beyond the technical aspects of design and integration, and sometimes even exceeds stakeholders’ awareness of the big picture. Experienced designers and integrators can hopefully see, and forewarn clients about, the unintended consequences of new tech rollouts.

The mostly manufacturer-driven move to higher-resolution display screens was a significant factor in some system planning discussions this year. When deployed as an end-to-end solution, 4K can create experiences that tug strongly at the viewer’s emotions and attention. The recently completed project at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta features two 84-inch 4K ultra HD commercial-grade displays from LG Electronics, each delivering 3840×2160-pixel resolution, and a 2×2 videowall with LG 55-inch full-HD 1080p direct LED displays.

“With 4K content displayed in native resolution on super-large 4K panels, we are able to give visitors as close a perspective to the actual underwater scene,” said Ryan Palley, Senior Manager of Audio/Video, Georgia Aquarium. The venue’s 4K ecosystem consists of a RED camera, Adobe Premiere Pro Creative Cloud editing software, an Alcorn McBride A/V Binloop HD video player and a Dataton WATCHOUT Multi-Display System. “Visitors seem to be mesmerized by the vivid colors of the content displayed and are inspired to immerse themselves more deeply into the aquarium experience,” Palley reported. He said that although the installation and integration of 4K products by the aquarium’s AV staff was relatively simple, the acquisition of 4K content is still a challenge.

Also in Q4, one integrator experienced the ripple effect of a job well done. The original design for a luxury clothing flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City called for three videowalls and several single displays. When the store’s celebrity designer did a walkthrough, he was reportedly very impressed with the impact of the two-story-high, 21-screen installation and authorized the purchase of additional videowall systems. “Our team had three videowalls up and running in a week,” said Linda Brisco, Project Manager, Dru Whitacre Media Services. “The main videowall consists of 60-inch Sharp displays in a seven-high by three-wide configuration. We used 55-inch NEC displays in various configurations at other locations in the store,” Brisco noted. The system also includes BrightSign media players and C-nario content management software.

The time crunch to complete the install before the start of the holiday season was not the only challenge. The unique use of a mirror display, not in the dressing rooms but in the bar, required customization. A Sharp 70-inch mirror display was specified for the area in the bar behind the liquor bottles, but no off-the-shelf package could meet the 70″x47″ specification. Dru Whitacre worked with glass and other vendors to customize a solution that worked with a Sharp 65-inch display and was able to wrap up the project before the shopping season went into full swing.

Value engineering solutions to meet clients’ needs is where opportunities are nestled. As you wrap up your year, it might be worth reviewing your own experiences with new tech this year, and resolving to blend your hard-earned expertise with your customers’ and partners’ visions for a brighter and more profitable 2015.

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