Outdoor Digital Signage – a Death Knell for Neon?

There is something exciting about a street filled with neon lights, the gentle buzz and the flickering colours that advertise everything from sex to jazz clubs makes the perfect setting to any film noir. However, the streets of Soho and the sidewalks of Sunset Boulevard may start to look a lot different as the use of neon decreasing thanks largely to the growing use of outdoor digital signage.

Neon was invented in the early part of the twentieth century and while there is some controversy as to who actually invented it, its first use was in 1923 when Georges Claude sold two gas filled signs to a car dealership in Los Angeles. They became a huge success with people travelling from across the country to view the “liquid fire” (which had cost the car dealership over $1000 each – a hefty sum for the time).

Neon lights soon spread, creating a revolution in outdoor advertising, a revolution which may just be coming to an end thanks to the growing use of plasma and LCD screens for outdoor advertising.

Plasma and LCD TV technology has dropped dramatically in price over the last few years resulting in a huge take-up of digital signage and with the introduction of weatherproof LCDs and protective LCD enclosures, outdoor digital advertising is now one of the fastest growing advertising sectors in the world.

Because of the low cost of outdoor LCDs and the flexibility they offer they are now starting to replace the traditional neon signs in some of the world’s most famous entertainment areas.

Jazz clubs in Soho are now using LCD screens in replace of neon along with many restaurants and adult entertainment clubs. If the increase in use of outdoor digital signage and LCD enclosures continues at its current trend, the neon light may soon be totally replaced, changing the sights, sounds and feels of some of our cities most exciting districts and resigning neon lights to the occasional film noir.

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