The great outdoors has always provided challenges for people and the world of digital signage is no different. Having covered the concourses and receptions of hotels, schools, colleges, shopping malls and even supermarkets digital signage is now being regularly implemented outdoors.
But the great outdoors poses plenty of challenges for LCD and plasma devices left to inform, educate and advertise. One of the most obvious challenges is protecting the signage from the weather. Obviously the natural home of digital signage systems is indoors where it neither rains, snows, sleets nor hails.
Yet all these elements are common place outdoors not to mention some of the extremes of temperature that many countries (particularly in Northern Europe and North America) endure during the height of summer and the depths of winter.
All digital signage that has to perform outside then , need to be adequately protected from the weather and the European IP65 rating demonstrates just that (often referred to as the NEMA 4 rating in the USA) ensuring that the LCD/Plasma/LED or the enclosure they are housed in will not let any water or moisture inside.
The temperature control, however, is not covered by any directive and rating but it is definitely worth asking your supplier the operation limits that it can operate in, do they have additional cooling to cope with extreme heat and how do they stop the devices from freezing up in the winter? And remember it is always worth considering the worst case scenario, you city may endure only mild winters or summers but if its possible to suffer blizzards or a heat wave and your machines cannot cope with them, then you are guaranteed (as Murphy’s Law suggests) to have one once you have spent half your marketing budget placing your digital outdoor signage.
Another weather related problem can be the brightness of the device in direct sunlight. Most LCD screens can’t compete with the brightness coming from the sun so the image can get lost in bright sunlight, fortunately many advances in screen technology such as optical bonding and transflexive displays have recently been implemented in many outdoor digital signage systems.
There are other challenges to think about when implementing outdoor digital signage such as protection against vandals and thieves or accidental impacts, particularly when the digital signage is to be left in public or unmanned areas.
The challenges of implementing digital signage outdoors can be met in two ways. Either identify each potential element that could damage the signage and buy signage equipment that is designed specifically to deal with them or opt for standard and even indoor equipment but house them in a outdoor LCD enclosure.
An LCD enclosure can be designed to be IP65 compliant but can also contain addition heaters, air conditioners, anti-theft devices and will also endure any accidental or deliberate heavy impacts.
Using outdoor digital signage can vastly improve the marketing potential of your advertising or information campaigns, bigger audiences can often mean more customers – so are you ready for the challenge?