Trends in digital signage

Digital Signage has been on the rise for years. It is a collective term for all forms of information and entertainment where you present (often dynamic) content on a screen. This screen could be anything from a price display on the supermarket shelf to the gigantic LED-covered Sphere in Las Vegas. Although the basic technology has been around for a while, this market is currently developing quickly. 

April 24th, 2024   |   Blog   |   By: Conclusion


Trends in digital signage 2024 Menno Pleij

Digital Signage 

“You see a split developing,” says Menno Pleij, Senior Industrial Designer at Conclusion ForeyeT. “On the one hand you have the ever-larger and brighter screens, and on the other, precisely the energy-saving solutions the market demands. The variety is increasing.” This is also in line with the ever-widening market. In the early years, digital signage was mainly used to convey information, but today you see more and more commercial applications. Consider for example the metre-high advertising columns along the motorway.  

The different requirements in these different markets mean that the trends are often almost opposite. The most important trends are: 

  • Bright, brighter, brightest: where a computer screen can often display a maximum of 300 nits, you need much more light intensity in outdoor environments, especially when the sun is shining. For some time, the standard has been 2500 nits, but screens are now coming onto the market that are approaching 5000 nits (and therefore use even more energy). 

  • Higher resolution for large screens: where large-format screens previously only provided a sharp image from fairly far away, they are now getting higher and higher resolution so they also provide a sharp picture up close. These large screens are often made up of manageable 50x50cm LED screens that can be linked together in a variety of creative shapes as desired. 

  • Energy saving: where the screens using these two technologies use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat, there are also developments in the other direction, towards energy saving. The most energy-efficient technology is e-paper/e-ink, which most people know from their e-reader. Where e-ink was initially only black on a white background, multicoloured variants are now becoming more widespread on the market. Unfortunately, they can only display a relatively bland RGB colour spectrum and are also quite slow in refreshing the image.

    This technology therefore lends itself well to relatively static applications, such as departure time information at bus stops.
    If the colours need to be bright and the image is refreshed frequently, there are passive LCD displays. They have a backlight like ordinary LCD screens, but the light is produced by reflecting ambient light. Unfortunately, this does mean they lack high contrast. OLED does provide that contrast. Where all the pixels in an LCD display use the same amount of energy, with OLED, the energy consumption of a pixel is determined by its colour. Black is the effect of pixels being switched off. Most TVs, phones and smartwatches today use OLED. 

  • Connectivity: where communication with screens was one-way traffic for a very long time, today they talk back. With sensors that collect real-time data, you can measure how different parts of a screen are performing so you can plan maintenance better (predictive maintenance). This goes hand in hand with good network connectivity, from public 4/5G networks to dedicated M2M (Machine to Machine) 4/5G or private 5G network technology. Where possible, fixed network connections using optical fibre are also used. 
Emerging Technologies Trend Report 2024

Emerging Technologies Trend Report 2024

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Practical case 

Conclusion ForeyeT specialises in the installation and 24/7 management of edge devices for various sectors. Aside from operators in the energy sector such as Eneco, we have also been partnered with ProRail and NS for all the screens and clocks at railway stations for many years. The conditions at those stations vary considerably, from covered halls to small platforms where the screens are exposed to the elements. “You might mostly think of wind, rain and cold, but the full sun in the middle of summer is much more problematic. On those days, the fans have to work extremely hard to cool the equipment,” says Menno.  

The same screens have been used at most NS stations for 10, 15 years. Menno: “They’ve since become technologically outdated, but we’ve completely modernised them on the inside. We replaced various hardware components as well as the embedded software. By integrating sensors, we can now monitor the screens remotely even better. We see it when parts wear out, and then we can schedule preventive maintenance. We’ve also made sure that the screens use less energy. For example, we can switch them off when no trains are running, so then they don’t use any energy.”

For the physical installation work, Conclusion ForeyeT developed a mechanical tool that means it no longer takes three installers to replace a screen, but two people can do it. “A screen weighs almost 50 kilos and is positioned at an average height of three metres. When you replace them, you have to take safety precautions. We save costs by using the mechanical lift we’ve developed. This has proven very useful given the tight labour market,” says Menno. 

Long-term decision 

This real-life example is a good demonstration of how wide-ranging digital signage is. If you want to present information on a screen, you have to make quite a few choices. The time has passed when the contractor would propose digital signage solutions as part of a complete package, as was common until recently. The solutions have now become so specialised that it pays to be well informed about things like the screen resolution required, energy consumption, predictive maintenance, and the possibility of upgrading existing screens to extend their lifespan.

The screens become ever-larger and brighter, but now the energy-saving solutions are also being developed. The variety is increasing.

Menno Pleij

Senior Industrial Designer at Conclusion ForeyeT

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