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1080p — Described sometimes as "full HD," has 1080 vertical lines of progressive scan (hence the "p") resolution in a 16:9 aspect widescreen and a 1920 x 1080 frame resolution; compare with 1080i, which is an interlaced screen format.


Artifact — In the AV world, it's any unwanted object, visual distortion, or defect on a video screen.

Aspect ratio — The dimensions of a display screen's image expressed as a ratio of the horizontal width to the vertical height.

Attenuation — The loss of signal strength as it flows through a cable. Usually expressed in decibels (dB).

Authoring — The process of creating and integrating content from various sources for the purpose of displaying on digital signage; often involves converting and sizing images and other digital media.

AV distribution system — The chain of audio and video devices used to distribute audio and video signals from the media player, PC, or other audio/video source to the point of display.

AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) — A common older multimedia file format in which both audio and video data are contained in a standard container.


Back projection — A technique in which video is projected from behind a translucent screen fabric, rather than in front of a screen, to make better use of available space, cast an unobstructed image, and prevent shadowing on the screen.

Balun — A device that connects a balanced line, such as twisted pair, to an unbalanced line, such as coaxial cable.

Bandwidth — In video applications, the range of available frequencies that can be encoded and decoded as well as the signal-carrying capacity in a video path; measured in Hertz (Hz) or bits or bytes per second (bps/Bps).

Banner advertising — Promotional content formatted as a text crawl or graphic that displays horizontally at the bottom or top of a digital signage screen; can be content paid for by a sponsor or the signage operator's own promotional content.

Baseband — The frequency band occupied by the aggregate of the signals used to modulate a carrier before they combine with the carrier in the modulation process.

Bevel — A three-dimensional, shadowing effect that gives the illusion of depth to a graphic or text.

Bitmap — A digital image file format in which bits are spatially mapped for the purpose of storing images (i.e. raster graphics image). Common bitmap images include JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and GIF files.

Broadband — A technique for sending data, voice, and video traffic over long distances by transmitting high-frequency signals over coax, UTP, and fiber optic cables, or wireless.


Captive audience network — Strategically placed digital signage that targets viewers whose activities force them to be in one place, often for a lengthy period of time.

Chroma — Short for chrominance, the part of a video signal that carries the color component (as opposed to luma, which carries the brightness).

Codec — A device or software that compresses and decompresses (or codes and decodes) data to preserve disk space; certain codecs convert and store analog video signals in a compressed digital file format.

Component video — An analog video signal in which the luminance and chrominance is carried on three wires. Also known as Y-Pb-Pr in which Y carries the luminance, Pb carries the difference between blue and luminance, and Pr carries the difference between red and luminance. Provides better quality than Composite Video does.

Composite video — An analog video signal containing brightness, color, and sync pulse information. Referred to also as CVBS (Color, Video, Blank and Sync), it is used for NTSC, PAL, or SECAM video formats.

Content distribution (or management) server — A server or computer used to store content for distribution to digital signage.

Content management software — For digital signage, it's a collaborative application used to import and organize graphics, electronic documents, HTML, audio, and other media from various sources into an integrated multimedia presentation.

Contrast ratio — A measure of a video display's luminosity specifying the difference between the blackest of blacks and the whitest of whites.

Convergence — The integration of the three primary communications channels (data, voice, and video) into one using the same network appliances, one standard network infrastructure, and the same administration. This high-bandwidth, combined-transmission method is known as Internet Protocol, or IP.

CPM — Acronym for cost per mille (Latin for thousand), it's a metric and cost modeling unit used to estimate the effectiveness of digital signage advertising. This advertising model describes the amount paid for every 1000 times an ad is viewed and an impression is recorded. For example, if a digital media firm charges $10,000 to run an ad on its screens and claims 200,000 impressions, it has a CPM of $50 ($10,000 divided by 200).


Day parting — Scheduling the display of content or advertising for specific times throughout the day.

Demographic — A segment of the population that is categorized based on variables such as age, income, ownership, and mobility; creating profiles based on these variables enables advertisers to understand the buying habits of a typical member of the segment and, in turn, develop effective marketing strategies.

Display device — Any LCD, plasma screen, projector, CRT, or other type of video screening equipment used to show content in a digital signage system.

DLP® — Acronym for Digital Light Processing; video projection technology of Texas Instruments that uses chips embedded with microscopically small mirrors. Each mirror represents a pixel to project jitter-free 1080p quality images.

DVI — Acronym for Digital Visual Interface (DVI), a connector interface for video displays and/or graphics accelerators that uses transition-minimized differential signaling (TMDS). Types of DVI connectors include:
• DVI-D, a digital-only connector; • DVI-I, which supports both digital and analog RGB connections; • DFP, another digital-only connector; being phased out; • EVC (also known as P&D), similar to DVI-I only slightly larger in size; used primarily on projectors.

Dwell time — The period of time when a display draws the attention of an audience member.


Eye tracking — Intelligent camera sensor technology that detects the viewing of a screen by a person; reflective light is used to determine when the person's eyes turn in the direction of the screen; in some cases, the camera can recognize the gender and age range of the person.


Flash — Adobe® software that is used to manipulate vector and raster graphics, often for the purpose of adding animation to Web pages and multimedia presentations.

Frames per second (fps) — The speed at which still images (frames) in a video or animation are played in succession by an imaging device; sometimes expressed as hertz (Hz).


GIF — Acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, a bitmap graphics file format that uses pixels to form an image; with its limited size and color palette (256 distinct colors), the format is best for displaying solid color images, small animations, and low-resolution video.


HDMI — Acronym for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, a digital connector interface that combines uncompressed high-definition video, multichannel audio, and intelligent format and command data in a single cable; with a bandwidth of up to 5 Gigabytes, it supports all HDTV standards.

HDTV — Acronym for High-Definition Television, a display format for digital TV transmissions that boasts twice the number of scanning lines per frame (60 fps) than conventional Standard Definition TV (SDTV), as well as offering a much higher number of pixels and a wider aspect ratio.


Impressions — How many times an audience member observes a digital signage ad or presentation.

IPTV — Digital television service delivered via a broadband IP link using data communications wiring.


JPEG — Acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group (the ISO and ITU-T committee creating the JPEG standard); a compressed graphics file format created by reducing and encoding still photo images for use on the Web or for uploading to a content management system.



LCD — Acronym for liquid crystal display, a thin, flat-panel display device containing liquid crystal solution between two transparent electrodes and two polarizing filters; when electrically charged, the crystal molecules align in one direction or another in front of a light source, forming a pixel-rich, composite image.

LED — Acronym for light emitting diode, a semiconductor diode that emits light when an electric current passes through it; in digital signage applications, clusters of red, green, and blue diodes are grouped together to form large panels, many of which are suitable for outdoor use.

Loop — A digital signage video or multimedia presentation that repeats at a standard interval for seamless continuous play.

Lower thirds — Tiers of graphics, crawls, banners, and overlaid text on the bottom portion of a video screen; also called chyrons.

Luma — The part of the video signal (represented as "Y" in YUV video) that carries the brightness as black, gray, and white information, as opposed to chroma, which carries the color.

Luminance — The density or the brightness of RGB colors in a video or projected image, adjustable to produce not only colors, but also blacks and whites of varying intensity.

Lumen — Abbreviated "lm," a unit of measuring light wavelengths perceived by the human eye; in the AV industry, it's used to describe the brightness of a projector's image.

Lux — A unit of measurement for light that takes into account its intensity and its ability to light a certain size area.


.mov file — An Apple® QuickTime® digital video file format that serves as a container file for digitally encoded media, including video, audio, and subtitles, as well as reference data.

MPEG — A video or audio video encoding and compression format created for using media on the Web and standardized by Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG); the three major formats:
• MPEG-1, the original video and audio compression format; used for the popular MP3 audio format;
• MPEG-2, the compression format used for DVD video;
• MPEG-4, the format algorithms expanded for use in 3D and DivX® video, low-bit-rate encoding, and digital rights management (for protecting media copyrights), with MPEG-4 Part 10 supporting play on Blu-ray™ and HD DVD equipment.

Multicast — The distribution of media content to multiple sites at the same time.


Narrowcast — The distribution of media content to a select group or creating customized content that appeals to a select group.

NAS (Network-Attached Storage) — Storage that's accessible to a network rather than one server. An NAS device is not a server. It only stores data and does not provide services such as e-mail, authentication, or file management.


OLED — Acronym for organic light emitting diode, a flat-panel display device containing thin layers of self-luminous organic compounds for high contrast, low power consumption (no backlight is required), and a faster response time.


Pixel — Short for "picture element," the smallest unit of data on display screen; represents only one color at at time.

Pixel response time — The time it takes for a signal pixel in a video display to switch from active to non-active, measured in milliseconds (ms).

Player — Any device (hardware or software) that distributes video and audio content to a display.

Plasma burn — The permanent disfiguring of a plasma screen image caused by the continuous display of a high-contrast object.

Plasma screen — A thin, flat-screen display device that contains an inert mix of neon and xenon gases in cells beneath glass; when electrically charged, the gases turn into plasma that emits ultraviolet photons that, in turn, excite phosphors on the back of the cells, creating colored light.

PoP — Acronym for point of purchase. Retail marketing term for a display or any advertising that targets customers near the cash register or the counter where items are bought; also known as point of sale (PoS), but PoS often refers to the equipment used to facilitate the retail transaction.

Portrait orientation — A screen rotated to the height of the display is greater than the width; portrait orientation can often be more eye-catching than horizontal or landscape orientation, which many more viewers identify with evermore prevalent widescreen TVs.

Proof of play — A reporting mechanism in which logs are used to show that an ad actually played back on a digital signage system; some advertisers now also demand "proof of display," verification that the ad was actually shown on the screens, as well as third-party audited play logs.


QuickTime® — An Apple multimedia framework for digital media, including movie clips, text, animation, music, panoramic and 360-degree virtual reality scenes, and digital video.


Recency — Advertising that is effective because it is timely, relevant to an audience, as opposed to the frequency of impressions; the theory behind why PoP displays are thought to be highly effective; also based on an education psychology theory that says information acquired last is remembered best.

Remote virtual media — A method of connecting remote media storage devices such as hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc. to a local system. Users at the local system can access these systems, and read and write from them as if they were local.

Resolution — The clarity and detail of an image because of the number of lines of pixels; measured in dots per inch (dpi), with the higher, the better, or in MHz.

RGB — Short for red, green, blue, the three colors that are combined to create a broad array of colors on a screen.

RSS — Acronym for Really Simple Syndication, Web feed technology that automatically detects when content on one site is updated and through subscriber feeds and aggregators, distributes it to another Web site or to a digital signage content player.

RTP — Acronym for Real-time Transport Protocol, a transport protocol for formatting packets for transmitting video and audio over the Web.

RTSP — Acronym for Real Time Streaming Protocol, a standardized protocol for the remote control of a streaming media server.


Saturation — The intensity, or the purity, of color present on a video screen.

Screen zoning — Dividing a digital signage into to regions containing separate static or real-time content feeds, or a mix of both.

SMIL — Acronym for Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, an XML markup language used to define and synchronize video, audio, and other multimedia elements in Web sites.

Streaming media — Video or other media compressed and delivered to an audience on-demand or live without the need for a complete transfer of the original file.

Sunlight-readable displays — Panels with coatings and films that reduce the amount of reflective light, making them ideal for digital signage in brightly lit or even direct sunlight areas.

S-Video — Short for separate video, a video connection interface that carries luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) signaling separately to prevent color crosstalk and for improved image reproduction.

Synchronized ad — An advertisement that works as contextual advertising, running next to editorial or "infotainment" content with similar subject matter.


Template — A document or file that contains pre-formatted design elements, enabling the customization of content and text to a specific digital signage application.

Third-party advertisers — Agencies used by digital signage operators to coordinate the delivery and sales transactions of advertising content and campaigns from merchants, companies, and media resellers.

Ticker — Horizontal text streamed across a screen often used to deliver headlines, promotions, and up-to-date stock information to an audience.

TOSLINK™ — A fiber optic connection interface for the transfer of digital audio signals.



VGA — Acronym for Video Graphics Array, an analog computer display standard with a resolution of 640 x 480 and a 256-color palette; most VGA devices use the HD15 connector; although analog, VGA video from a PC is used in many digital signage applications by using VGA extenders and splitters.

Video wall — A wallmounted or frame-mounted checkerboard configuration of multiple video screens showing different images or the same image spread across multiple screens.

VOB — Acronym for Video Object file, a file containing MPEG2 content, such as that of DVD.


Wait warping — Anything that helps shoppers or a captive audience experience shorter perceived wait times; a selling point of digital signage to airports and transportation hubs.


Xvid — A PC video codec used for the faster transmission of digital data over a network.


YCbCr (or Y,Cb,Cr or Y'CbCr) — A set of video color spaces used to encode RGB information for digital video as an interlaced scan-only Component video connections; contains the luma or brightness (Y) component along with the blue and red chroma (Cb and Cr) components.

YPbPr (also Y/Pb/Pr or Y,Pb,PR) — A set of video color spaces used to encode RGB information for Progressive Scan capable Component video connections; the analog version of YCbCr connection, contains the luma or brightness (Y) information along with the difference between blue and luma (Pb) and the difference between red and luma (Pr).




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