One digital signage enclosure company is filling an early market gap in the digital signage for restaurant industry, and is doing so in a revolutionary, yet simple, way.
ITS Enclosures, a manufacturer of outdoor housing units for digital signage screens, has been testing and rolling out a new proprietary cooling system for its ViewStation products that has gotten the attention of one of the nation's largest restaurant chains.
The ViewStation QSR uses a closed-loop cooling system which re-circulates cooled air and exhausts heat to "create an environment" inside each enclosure that keeps the electronics cool even in extreme conditions. This is different from air-to-air cooling methods, which take in hot air and blow it on electronics at high speeds in an effort to cool them down.
As this technology takes hold in the QSR space, it could open up previously untapped digital signage installation opportunities in the drive-thru lane, where the use of LCDs outdoor has proven difficult.
Now, I don't need to preach all the difficulties of using digital signage in true outdoor environments. (If you'd like that information, you can read an article from this past January on Digital Signage Today.) Obviously the lack of abundant LCD installations to date tells you that it can be expensive and challenging to maintain. There have been many documented outdoor digital signage installations, but many of them are actually "indoors" — for example, under covered train stations.
The true challenge for outdoor digital signage occurs with installations like QSR drive-thru lanes — where screens are exposed to direct sunlight and solar load takes effect. Solar load is the extra temperature, humidity and degradation a piece of equipment endures when placed in direct sunlight.
ITS director of business development Karl Jackson says that performance data from the ViewStation QSR's 25 deployed enclosure show that it does quite well at combating solar load. He reports that tested units have kept screen environments in the 83-88 degree Fahrenheit range and between 39-52 percent humidity within the enclosures, even during this summer.
ViewStation wins in Kentucky
Unless you're lucky enough to live on a breezy coast, you know that it's unseasonably hot in the east and mid-west. Here in Louisville, Ky., the geography of the Ohio Valley means that the heat and humidity hangs around a lot longer than other places. Louisville was even named this summer's hottest city. What better ground to test the capabilities of the ViewStation QSR?
Jackson says that prolific digital signage user KFC, a subsidiary of Louisville-based YUM! Brands, has been running a small test in the Louisville market which compared the ViewStation QSR to one of its competitors. NEC screens, similar to those being powered by Wireless Ronin inside many KFC locations, were placed in both the ViewStation unit and a competitor's unit at two Louisville restaurants.
Here is an image of the ViewStation QSR at its testing ground at 6600 Bardstown Road in Louisville.
Results of the test have not yet been announced, however, NEC Display Solutions has backed the use the ViewStation QSR for outdoor digital signage use. Jackson said NEC Display will warrant their displays for outdoor use if they are housed in the ViewStation QSR units. We will keep an eye on this test and report any decisions made.