14 - 04 - 16

Digital Signage - We're Nearly There!

Nearly one month after the annual Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas the whole industry is continuing to fly with solutions to all of the problems we needed to overcome on the horizon. The continued investment in research and development in the digital signage technology space means than the barriers are fast disappearing and the solutions that are on their way to market are bright, eye-catching and encouraging!

Identity has identified two areas which should be watched very closely – OLEDs and Outdoor LED Screens. Both are highly likely to change the digital signage industry as we know it in record time. We predict that the change will happen in the next 12 months – which means that we have already started to see the technology in the marketplace.

OLED – Just another acronym to learn?

For those that remember, our screens used to be powered by cathode-ray tubes (CRTs). The largest screens were about 60cm deep and almost too heavy to lift by yourself. The technology is continuing to push the limits with the goal to create super thin and flexible screens. Most of us have tablets, flat-screen TVs and smart phones with LCD screens, which are thin enough hold in the palm of our hands or to mount on a wall but something new is on the horizon - the next generation of displays made using OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology. They’re unbelievably thin, super-flexible and they also produce a brighter and more vivid picture.

One of the first products to use this technology has been the Apple Watch. Whether you think of this product as a success or failure the thickness of the screen (which is manufactured by LG) is in our opinion a huge success coming in at an impressive at 0.5mm thick. An OLED screen is flexible and in the case of the Apple Watch the flexible screen is bonded to the display panel. The flexible nature of the screen means that this technology is going to revolutionise wearable tech, eventually appearing on our wrists, round our necks, over our eyes and on our clothing.

What is an OLED exactly?

OLED panels are made from organic (carbon based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied through them. Since OLEDs do not require a backlight and filters (unlike LCD displays), they are more efficient, simpler to make, and much thinner. OLEDs have a great picture quality - brilliant colours, fast response rate and a wide viewing angle.

So what does this mean for the digital signage industry?

Transparent organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays are being developed primarily by LG and Samsung with both organisations racing to be at the forefront of the industry. These two tech giants are effectively reinventing the flat screen as we know it. The big advantage of OLED is that it can be embedded into materials like window glass or acrylic. This revolutionary product is likely to make waves across the digital signage industry with suggestions that this tech will be applied to retail windows, office divider walls and external facing office windows significantly increasing the amount of advertising space available to a business.

Image courtesy of https://insights.samsung.com

Outdoor LED Screens – Does Samsung have the answer?

Finally the digital signage industry’s number one problem has been solved: how can you overpower the sun at high-noon with a digital display? Through a combination of experience and technology we are now starting to see breakthroughs in this area with the production of daylight-readable and nature-ready outdoor signage displays on the horizon. And guess who is leading the innovation? Samsung.

“Samsung presents its most versatile all-in-one outdoor display, built to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environmental conditions, ensuring your messages gets out there.” - Samsung Display Solutions.

Image courtesy of http://displaysolutions.samsung.com

After seeing the product first hand at the DSE (Digital Signage Expo) 2016 we am inclined to agree. The product is impressive and removes the problem signage providers have been battling with for years – the sun is too bright! So in 2016 Samsung introduced SMART outdoor screens that are affordable, immediately available and boast many advantages;

  • Weather-sealed
  • Ready to operate in anything from -30 to 50 degrees Celsius
  • 2,500 nit brightness
  • Built-in smarts to crank up the brightness or dial it back based on time and ambient lighting conditions

There is now a product on the market which is ready-to-go out of the box. With all the complexity sealed in a single unit there are now fewer restrictions than ever on where signage can go - solutions can operate both indoors and outdoors, there are no limits on shape and they can even be wrapped around corners! All of this means that digital signage experts can now focus on the more pressing challenge - how to engage your audience with relevant, high impact content.

So where does this leave the industry today and what are the barriers still to overcome? Budget. Although OLED technology and Samsung’s SMART range are available they have some way to go to provide affordable signage solutions. However, we predict that by March 2017 both technologies will be widely available and will be a lot more affordable. Watch this space for more updates!