What alternatives should be considered in the design and implementation of outdoor digital signage?

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Answered by: Priya, An Expert in the Ad Materials Category
There are many challenges that need to be tackled prior to employing outdoor digital signage, where it can reach a huge potential audience.

Outdoor digital signage or digital advertising is virtually everywhere. It has become a superb new tool for advertisers and marketers. Apart from the ubiquitous advertising that surround cities, outdoor video wall technology is fast increasing in the countryside - for agriculture purposes, retail shopping malls, gas stations, advertising for roadside billboards and diners, warnings and several other roadside businesses. In short, it has allowed companies to produce marketing campaigns that are seen and heard by thousands of prospective customers everywhere.

The need for precise and accurate info in real time has lead to outdoor video walls. As outdoor digital signage provides real time info for workers, this has led to an explosion in outdoor digital advertising. Outdoor digital signage is now playing an important role that is beyond just advertising and marketing

However, there are some major challenges in using digital outdoor signage and whether your LCD or plasma TV devices are protected from these challenges. In other words, although these outdoor video walls are effective digital tools, there are some challenges to determine whether video wall technology is right for your business. These challenges are;

1.     Temperature, ambient light and interference

2.     Weather, humidity and waterproofing

3.     Attempted theft, vandalism, accidental and deliberate damage

4.     Maintenance of components

5.     Positioning and viewing distance

6.     Available technologies for outdoor viewing

Each of these challenges must be taken care of, should you choose an outdoor video wall implementation.

1. Temperature, ambient light and interference

Light interference is a major challenge for outdoor digital signs. The several, different light sources that interfere with the outer video wall, include;

     The sun

     Other light signs and interferences in the surrounding areas

     The type of protective packaging used to contain the outer video wall

However, there are also options to lessen the outside light and its slight interference with the outer walls of the pictures. These alternatives are:

     LCD and LED displays which have a higher brightness level

     Building structures around the outer video wall, limiting its exposure to ambient light

However, these safety measures are not accurate, as high brightness LCD and LED displays in general have a lower life expectancy. Besides, with the high brightness of outdoor video walls, the outdoor digital signage is certainly more efficient at night.

2. Weather, humidity and waterproofing

Outdoor video walls can be demanding even in difficult weather conditions. Besides, the electronic components function normally only within a fine range of temperature and humidity. Hence, the primary components of the outdoor digital signage need to be shielded from extreme temperatures and requires moisture protection. To protect the LCD from rain is the most important point of digital outdoor signage protection. It is also important that the LCD device can withstand temperature extremes and that humidity does not build up inside. The LCD should be able to withstand any condensation of humidity that may build up inside and which may disable its functioning.

LED outdoor video wall systems can be accommodated relatively easily as the supply circuit is shielded and protected by an envelope and each LED has its own casing. LCD outdoor video wall systems need special enclosures for outdoor use and should meet the following criteria;

     It has a stable temperature

     It is shielded from extreme weather conditions

     It should provide protection against deliberate or accidental damage

     It should achieve the above without any reduction in brightness

These preventive methods not only protect the screen from water but also present other harmful elements like dust, straw and dirt from getting inside. Rugged, waterproof stainless steel enclosures are necessary to ensure adequate protection for LCD digital outdoor signs. Although this may be easily obtained from different manufacturers, their quality of design could vary with the manufacturer and this is an area that ought to be looked into prior to purchase. Despite the cost, it is advisable to consult an expert in this area and who has experience in video walls and LCD outdoor digital signage.

3. Attempted theft, vandalism, accidental and deliberate damage

Although LCD enclosures are solidly built from steel so as to protect against accidental (and/ or deliberate) damage, the chances are that if any LCD or plasma is to be left unmanned in an outdoor location then it needs to be protected from unwanted attention. It is advisable to use screws that are tamper proof and padlocks for security purposes. Additional protective glass is also advised to secure an outdoor video-wall system. A method that puts off thieves and vandals is to position the outdoor video-wall in an elevated area.

4. Maintenance of components

Enclosures can be an excellent job of protecting the components, but if the components are difficult to reach, servicing and maintenance of outdoor digital signage may be difficult. Besides, LCD outdoor video walls are especially vulnerable to maintenance problems. Since outdoor video walls requires a large number of external components compared to single display screens, one can only assume the need to replace these defective parts and panels.

LED outdoor digital signage systems are a lot easier to repair mainly because of its modular design. Besides, LED outdoor video walls have less need for specialized external walls and enclosures like LCD outdoor video walls.

5. Positioning and viewing distance

This is one of the most important aspects for digital signage and outdoor video walls. It decides how far a potential buyer would be positioned from the outdoor video wall. To put it simply, if the audience or the viewer is positioned at a place that is less that 30 feet of the outdoor video wall, then a higher pixel pitch of an LCD is recommended because it produces a much higher resolution and therefore would have a greater impact. However, if the goal is to create an outdoor video wall that can be seen from a distance of over hundred feet, then an LED system is recommended because it is likely that no one is close enough is to see the individual LEDs.

6. Available technologies for outdoor viewing

At the moment, there are three main technologies that are available for outdoor digital display. Naturally, each has its own disadvantages and advantages. Potential buyers are invited to study every technology to determine carefully which best meet their needs.

LED outdoor video walls

LED outdoor video walls are typically rugged and have bright displays. They are designed to withstand severe weather conditions, and the new models are bright and visible even in direct sunlight.

LED outdoor digital signage is the most popular choice of exhibition spaces, concert spaces, billboards and video walls found in larger metropolitan areas.

The most significant disadvantage of the LED digital display systems is that it is one step lower in pixel pitch when compared to LCD systems. This means that as a viewer approaches closer to the screen, the harder it is to see to the pictures or read the text.

LCD outdoor video walls

High resolution and high pixel LCD outdoor video walls appear much impressive from any distance. Besides, LCD outdoor video walls are very affordable, especially when compared to LED systems.

The main drawback of LCD display is that it not only needs to be protected from weather and other adverse conditions but it must allow easy access for maintenance and repairs. Besides, it requires an expert to do a professional video wall installation of an LCD outdoor video wall.

Rear projection outdoor video walls

Many companies have started using the rear projection outdoor video walls in recent years. Rear projection systems characteristically use multiple projectors edge-blended to make videos on a surface to the outside, as the shop window.

The projection systems are generally not bright enough to be seen in daylight - or even at night when there is sufficient ambient light. However, rear projection outdoor video walls overcome this limit when placed indoors and project the video on to a sheet of glass outside, usually in a shaded area (for example, under a tent). Rear projection outdoor digital signs can create large, high-impact outdoor digital signage presentations. However, their main disadvantage is that it needs more space inside than outside, which usually means sacrificing valuable cargo space.

Many options and alternatives ought to be considered in the design and implementation of an outdoor video wall. Levels of ambient light, weather, environmental conditions and even viewing distance are a few factors that may affect the performance and stability of an outdoor digital signage. Choosing the right video wall technology depends on a careful and systematic knowledge of these factors. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a potential buyer consult with a few or more qualified experts in this field of video wall installation and video wall technology prior to implementing outdoor video walls

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