The demand for digital signage is growing rapidly. By some estimates, the marketplace will nearly double by the year 2025. The growth is for good reason. Digital signage, once largely found in the retail industry, now offers a growing list of capabilities to benefit sectors from food service to military intelligence, education, corporate, control room, security and transportation — to name a few. The decreasing cost of LED displays coupled with improved digital signage technology are likely causing the boom.
Single screens or 2x2 displays of the past are increasingly being replaced by larger digital signage installations and video walls. In addition to larger formats, users want an expanding set of features, including higher resolutions, more end points, real-time transmission, increased customization and interactivity. And they want it all to be easy to deploy, simple to manage and affordable. AV over IP meets these needs by offering a number of advantages compared to traditional digital signage and video walls.
1. Simple Deployment
AV-over-IP technology is often simpler to deploy than traditional hard-wired digital signage and video walls. It typically fits in with existing system architecture and doesn’t require much technical know-how to install. With no hard wiring, there are no distance limitations between the data source and the display.
IP-based digital signage and video walls work by connecting a receiver to each display, which attaches an IP address to the screen and connects it to the network. Once the display is connected, content can be delivered quickly and easily from anywhere on the network. Scalability is also easy and cost-effective. Adding displays is as simple as adding more receivers — up to thousands of end points.
2. High-Quality Transmission in Real Time
Current developments in AV-over-IP technology allow the transmission of high-quality video that consumes less bandwidth than ever before. Users no longer have to sacrifice speed of transmission for quality. They are able to send and receive ultra-high resolution 4K/UHD video content across any distance while retaining high image quality. The latest compression technologies allow 4K lossless transmission of video signals at 60 Hz with 10-bit color depth. Lossless compression requires more bandwidth to transmit video signals but provides clear images and latency-free operation. It seems likely that 8K resolution will be the standard in the near future.
Real-time transmission of high-quality video and audio makes IP-based video walls ideal for command and control centers, security applications, transportation and live presentations. Real-time feeds allow for improved response time to emergencies, for example. They also enable a higher level of interactivity for applications such as education or business. In retail, real-time transmission supports augmented reality in which shoppers can virtually try on clothing from a store’s current inventory.
3. Ease of Management
Improvements in digital signage software make creating, publishing and managing content quick and easy, often from a centralized platform. From an intuitive web interface, users with little technical knowledge can create messaging using drag-and-drop functionality. Some software solutions enable the creation of multimedia zones and content playlists for highly targeted messaging. Users can make instant updates to content or perform network-wide software updates to tens of thousands of players at once. Today’s software also offers better analytics and feedback loops. For example, it can measure consumption and interaction with customers at retail locations and restaurants.
One example of advanced digital signage software is iCOMPEL from Black Box. iCOMPEL is an agnostic enterprise content commander CMS that can manage a mixed network of players and system-on-chip screens. It offers direct installation of its software onto Samsung Tizen or LG WebOS 3.0 displays, eliminating the need for a physical signage player. An added benefit is that the total cost of ownership is reduced, making this an appealing solution for budget-conscious installations such as quick-serve retail.
4. Lower Cost
Networked solutions eliminate the expensive wall processors of the past and require less cabling, resulting in additional cost savings. The decreasing price of LED displays also reduces the cost of a video wall installation. Additionally, components such as the mounting brackets are being engineered for faster, and thus cheaper, installation.
The advanced capabilities of networked digital signage could make cost a less important consideration. In some applications, for example, food service and retail settings, the cost of digital signage may be offset by the additional sales potential that comes with highly targeted messaging and offers.
More Growth Ahead
Market demand is driving swift innovations in the digital signage and video wall space. The possibilities for future advancements are seemingly endless, with AI and smart technology on the horizon. Integrators and equipment manufacturers should be prepared to seize new opportunities as IP-based signage becomes more widespread and as companies update outdated technology in favor of new, high-performance video walls and signage.
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