Mobile outdoor digital signage hits the road

 
Feb. 6, 2011 | by Christopher Hall

Usually when you hear the words mobile and digital signage in the same sentence, whoever's doing the talking is probably talking about mobile phones interacting with digital displays.

Not this time.

Influence Media Network has introduced a novel addition to the digital signage space — one that actually moves.

"We have developed what we think is the first affordable, portable, self-contained large-format media display," IMN President Ed Martin said in a recent phone interview.

IMN's Conveyable Media Display is a 137-inch projection display that uses military research science to make it viewable in outdoor light, and can be towed behind a truck and set up, literally, just about anywhere.

Depending on the display's configuration, it can be outfitted with its own "whisper quiet" generator and its own sound system, so a deployer's content could be up and running in about 10 minutes, Martin said.

The system also can connect to video camera and a wired or wireless microphone for public addresses or live broadcasts; or to a computer to display a website, run a PowerPoint presentation or play a video game.

"It means you could just set this thing up anywhere you want to pull it up," Martin said. "You could pull it up out in the middle of a field.

"I have an HTC 4G phone from Sprint with an HDMI output on it. You could plug the phone into the screen and play content, like ESPN RedZone or whatever, wherever it happens to be sitting."

IMN has pulled one of the displays from its headquarters in Jonesboro, Ark., to Las Vegas and back, and one of the prototypes was used this season by the NFL's Denver Broncos as an outdoor display outside Invesco Field at Mile High. Lying flat and pulled by a truck or even an ATV, the display unit as a whole is about 19 ½ feet long and is light enough, according to the company website, to be pulled by hand on smooth surfaces.

The 137-inch screen (about 10 ½ feet wide by about 6 feet high) from Capture Displays uses technology originally developed by the military in parallel with research into Stealth technology, Martin said. Capture Displays bought the patent for what amounts to an energy-redirection system and came up with a screen technology that allows the use of projection in high ambient light because any off-axis light is redirected away from the screen viewers, he said.

According to Martin, the origins of the technology lie in millitary efforts to deceive sonar or radar by redirecting the energy of the sonar/radar pulses and making it appear that ships or planes were someplace they weren't.

In this application, the technology allows the screen to act as a lens that is aimed at the audience, and the relationships of the angles from projector to screen to viewer allow the system to take ambient light, say, sunlight, coming from any other direction and focus it away from viewers.

"So full sunlight can be shining on the screen, and it doesn't affect the image that you see on the screen because it's being redirected someplace else," Martin said.

Because the Conveyable Display uses projection technology rather than LEDs, the system is far more lightweight than a comparably-sized screen using LEDs. LEDs also are very power-hungry and get very hot, so the use of projection allows for far lower power consumption — a gallon of fuel can power the system for eight hours using its 2,100 watt generator, Martin said.

Depending on configuration, the cost for the display unit ranges from about $35,000 to about $60,000.

IMD serves as a distributor for the screens from Capture, as well as for the other pieces of technology the company decided to integrate into one package.

The display system also incorporates the HDMA4100 Intelligent Media Player from Grass Valley which allows for SMIL content, remote updates and self-contained operation.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Panasonic water-cooled projector technology which allows for operation in ambient temperatures up to 113 degrees.

The enabling technologies — the screen, the intelligent media player and the projector — also can be deployed in a fixed implementation anywhere there is a need for large screens that can operate in high ambient light conditions, martin said.

So while the Conveyable Media Display is a moveable feast, the system itself could be taken off wheels and deployed in a fixed installation in situations where heavy light makes other screens impractical.

According to IMN, the CMD has business applications ranging from deployments at athletic events from the high school to the professional level — to sell advertising to raise money for a school athletic department, for example — to deployments at colleges and universities during campus events to deployments at churches for satellite locations, outdoor events or block parties.


Topics: Display Technology , Distributors / Resellers , Entertainment Venues , Hardware , Outdoor Signage , Stadiums / Arenas


Christopher Hall / Christopher is the editor of DigitalSignageToday.com. A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.
www View Christopher Hall's profile on LinkedIn

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