Video walls are coming, catch the wave

Video walls and multidisplay digital signage configurations are moving away from being expensive and exotic status symbols and toward being a more commonplace application in stores, restaurants, hotels, transportation centers and many other public places.

From airports to government command-and-control centers, video walls are a significant part of the future of digital signage. A recent webinar by HP and Digital Signage Today, "Digital Signage Video Walls are Going Mainstream - Learn How," focused on the technology innovations breaking down the barriers to easy adoption of video wall technologies.

The webinar featured speakers Andy Bowden, the senior marketing manager for digital signage and commercial displays for HP, and Bob Rosenberry, the global product manager for digital signage and self-service for HP.

In almost any public space, from malls to airports, the public is becoming increasingly familiar with the increasingly ubiquitous video walls, Bowden said, citing a Futuresource Consulting statistic that the global video wall market is on pace for 60 percent growth this year.

Video walls include front and rear projection, LED video arrays, and LCD and plasma displays, Bowden said, with LCD display and front projection video walls combining for more than 90 percent of the video wall market.

Numerous factors have been driving the shift to LCD displays for video walls, he said, from narrower bezels to lower prices for large-format (more than 32 inch) displays.

Rosenberry then talked about the impact of video walls and common use cases for video walls, from conference centers to retail ambience — as well as how video walls are actually put together, with multiple displays acting as a single large display canvas.

"The impact historically has been around a 'wow' factor," he said. "This large video canvas demands attention."

Video walls also are popping up more and more in non-rectangular formats, and in everyday applications, he said, from airport concourses to restaurant digital menu boards to retail stores showing life-sized images of models wearing the items for sale.

Rosenberry also touched on some how-to aspects of digital signage video walls, from issues surrounding content and media players to setting up the screens' connectivity.

Then Bowden took back over the presentation and addressed integrating touch into video walls, examining some common touch technologies such as infrared and projected capacitive touch, and touching on gesture technologies. He made sure to stress that the user experience for a touch video wall will differ from the user experience on a smaller screen, such as a tablet or smartphone, so it behooves deployers to make the content as immersive as possible.

"That user experience factor is huge," he said.

During the webinar's Q&A session, Bowden and Rosenberry covered a variety of topics, from color calibration to 4K content to best practices for protecting screens in public deployments.

One participant asked, with the availability of extra-large-format displays of 60 inches or more, why not deploy a single very large screen instead of multiple smaller screens in a video wall? Bowden responded that there are issues around the cost factor, around the immersiveness of content on a video wall vs. a single large screen and around the resolution needed for a larger single screen: "It [a video wall] can be a better experience for the viewer than a single screen," he said.

To watch the on-demand version of the free, hourlong webinar, click here.

Read more about digital signage display technologies.

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