Digital Signage

Introduction

The scope of this chapter is to outline the primary guidelines, best practices, and considerations to take into account when planning, designing, and deploying a digital signage system.

A digital signage system consists of three key components:

  • Management involves the user interface for administrators and content managers. It includes the business processes, software and hardware to monitor, manage and publish content to digital signage endpoints

  • Content involves the storage and servers that handle the scheduling, playlist, and content playback

  • Hardware includes the physical displays, signage media players, and mounting hardware for the digital signage endpoints. It includes flat panel displays, projectors, kiosks, LED video walls, and projectors along with all associated signage media players, cables, and accessories

Digital signage systems are composed of AV equipment and many of the standards and best practices for professional AV installations apply equally to a professional digital signage installation.

Digital signage endpoints are commonly deployed in areas accessible to the general public and sometimes in areas exposed to all weather environments. Due diligence is recommended when designing a digital signage system to ensure accessibility, robustness, weather-proofing, and security requirements are met.

Stakeholders

Below is a list of stakeholders commonly involved in the planning, deployment, and maintenance of a digital signage system:

  • communications and marketing managers - content and branding

  • faculty members - communications and messaging

  • architects - design of built environment

  • AV/IT managers - design of integrated technology and maintenance

  • facilities management - physical integration considerations

  • fire contractor or consultant - integration with building alarm system

  • advertisers and sponsors - return on investment, audience, content, and impact

Common Objectives

  • broadcast messages and improve engagement with staff & faculty

  • raise brand awareness

  • provide information on upcoming events

  • space management through room booking and scheduling

  • provide interactive or static wayfinding

  • boost sales and revenue through advertising

A digital signage system may also be utilised for advanced interactivity and personalisation:

  • personalised wayfinding (e.g. find colleague, find a hotdesk)

  • integration with user’s mobile device (e.g. QR code, mobile apps)

  • anonymous biometrics and analytics (e.g. age, gender, level of attention)

Digital Signage Compared to IPTV

A digital signage system typically suits requirements where each individual display can present content independently to other displays in the system; whereas an IPTV system typically suits requirements where identical content is broadcast to groups of displays.

Digital Signage as a Service

A digital signage system can be entirely outsourced to an external provider. This is a service often offered by media or advertising companies. Whilst the AETM would generally recommended against this, there may be situations where it is a viable option. An example would be where there is a substantial budget available for purchasing and maintaining the system, but inadequate staff to support it.

Commonly a supplier will provide a full managed system (including all the hardware, software and networking arrangements) at a discount for allowing third-party advertising. This is a dangerous path to go down, as although it often looks like a good deal, you are relinquishing full control of your content.

If no third-party advertising is acceptable (a standpoint which the AETM would strongly recommend) then the cost will significantly increase, often well beyond the cost of having a system designed, installed and maintained by an AV integrator or internal staff.

Audience Categories and Applications

In planning the deployment and content for a digital signage system, it is best to identify the anticipated audiences. Doing this will help to inform the optimum placement of display types, and content to maximise engagement.

Audience relationship to the organisation

Audience Type

Common Content Types

Common Display Types

Common Locations

Visitors & Guests

Messages welcoming visitors

General brand awareness

Wayfinding

Events and advertising

Flat panel display

Video wall array

LED video wall

Projection

Kiosk

Building entrances

Lobbies

Atriums

Corridors

General Public

General brand awareness

Events & advertising

Flat panel display

Video wall array

LED video wall

Outdoors

Lobbies

Reception areas

Staff, Students, and Faculty

Messages and reminders

Schedule / Timetable

Data visualisation

Flat panel display

Room booking panel

Classroom entry

Reception areas

Common areas

Offices

Audience level of attention

Level of Attention

Common Content Types

Common Display Types

Common Locations

Travelling, en route

Messages short & concise

News in brief

Events and advertising

Flat panel display

Video wall array

LED video wall

Projection

Lobbies

Atriums

Corridors

Waiting

Messages 1-2 paragraph

Schedule / calendar

Directory

Events and advertising

Flat panel display

Video wall array

Embedded display

Lift lobbies

Reception areas

Common areas

Offices

Need Information

Wayfinding

Schedule / calendar

Directory

Knowledgebase

Exhibit

Kiosk

Touch table

Flat panel display

Video wall

Mobile device

Building entrances

Lift lobbies

Lobbies

Point of Sale

Digital receipt

Cross sales

Store loyalty points

Small display

Tablets

Video wall array

Mobile device

Store counter

Behind store counter

Size and Scope

A digital signage system can be as small as a single display in a reception lobby showing images stored on a USB stick, or as large as an international network of media players and displays updated from a cloud-based content scheduling server. Defining the size and scope will assist in determining the technology required for the key components of the digital signage system.

The AETM recommends technology managers consider a digital signage strategy in the long-term, ensuring the appropriate foundations are put in place to enable a scalable platform with the ability to cater for multiple endpoint types in the future.

A diagram of the typical ‘Digital Signage Network Scale Workflow’ can be found in the appendix.

Digital Signage Network Scale Workflow

Management Methods

One-to-One Management

Small-scale systems may include up to a dozen digital signage endpoints. Content may be managed by stand-alone media players with onboard capability of running schedules and playlists. Administrators and content managers interact directly with the media player to update content, schedules, or playlists.

Common one-to-one management examples:

  • a display connected to a device which allows a web browser connection to its IP address with onboard content management software, which has its own administrator username and password

  • A display that is capable of playing a playlist of content stored locally on a standalone media player, memory card or USB storage device

One-to-Many Remote Management

Organisations such as Universities often require large-scale systems which include many signage endpoints connected via an IP network. Content for multiple media players may be managed efficiently via a software or web dashboard through which administrators and content managers interact with the connected signage media players.

Recommended one-to-many remote management features:

  • Administrators and content managers may log in to a central management dashboard (either software installed on user’s computer, or a web browser address)

  • Access privileges to allow administrators full access control, while content managers may only update images and playlists. Each user may be given unique login credentials

  • Reports on the status of each connected digital signage media player

  • Allows efficient management of individual, or groups of digital signage media players (e.g. ground floor reception digital sign, or all lift lobby signage displays)

  • Allows content to be uploaded, scheduled, and published to individual, or groups of signage media players (e.g. play promotions playlist for all corridor signage displays during September)

  • May integrate with building warning and alarm systems (e.g. play emergency evacuation playlist for all signage displays when fire alarm triggers)

The digital signage Content Management System (CMS) server software may be running on-premise, cloud-based or a hybrid depending on the product and service deployed. Planning and deployment of the software dashboard and CMS must be factored in to ICT architecture design.

Content Servers and Storage

Local Storage

Most digital signage systems, regardless of size, utilise the local storage of media players to store content and playlists ready for playback. Local storage will be used to store current, upcoming or incidental playlists (e.g. emergency messaging).

Local storage size will be defined by the playlists, inclusive of the varying content asset types and respective file sizes (e.g. plain text, pictures, videos, etc). It will also be used to cache content that is streamed or downloaded from a url.

The AETM recommend managing content centrally to avoid end users the overhead of managing manual content updates. Physical media is not recommended. Be aware that the use of removable storage presents an opportunity to override or remove content, presenting a security risk.

Remote Network Storage

Large-scale digital signage systems commonly require a centralised repository to digitally store all content assets. A Content Management System (CMS) is used to manage assets and templates stored on the remote network storage. Common remote network storage methods:

  • On-premise server or Network Attached Storage (NAS)

  • Cloud-based storage

  • Wide Area Network (WAN) storage or Storage Area Network (SAN)

Note: Planning and deployment of digital signage remote network storage must be factored in to ICT architecture design

Content Management System

A digital signage Content Management System (CMS) facilitates the administration and management of digital signage assets including content publishing and scheduling, and in some cases signage endpoint hardware management.

The decision to use an on-premise service or a cloud-based solution are both equally valid, and every organisation’s environment is different. Regardless of approach, a CMS should always:

  • provide the functionality required by end users for the publishing and scheduling of their content

  • provide the administrative requirements, as well as access to hardware device network if remote support of endpoints is a feature set of the system

  • integrate with the core network of the organisation

  • align with ICT architectural requirements

  • align with ICT security policies regarding user authentication and administrator access

  • align with ICT governance policies regarding software and content updates

  • have a defined support model at a server, content and endpoint

Some considerations for the deployment of an on-premise digital signage CMS include:

  • complete control over server hardware, environment and costs

  • control over security, including placement of server behind an organisation’s firewall

  • scalability of servers may attract higher cost, complexity and time, depending on on-premise hosting capabilities

  • higher cost of initial deployment

  • generally lower cost of server ownership and storage over time

  • storage can be local if required for security posture

  • increased time required to establish the digital signage service

  • appropriate access should be considered for content and publishing, e.g. via VPN or public-facing web interface

  • internal support teams are responsible for all software, maintenance and security patching

Some considerations for cloud-based deployment of digital signage CMS include:

  • cost and time efficiency of initial digital signage service setup

  • ongoing cost should be based on only the computing and storage resources that are used, allowing a scalable solution that is suitable now and into the future

  • support, maintenance and patching of cloud-based servers can be externalised

  • endpoints require an internet connection to pull content for local caching and playback

  • access for publishing is generally via the internet rather than exclusive to a local network

  • server hardware can scale-out automatically when required to cater for additional endpoints or content

  • storage location of digital signage assets may be important to your organisation

Hybrid models combining elements of the above options are also possible, but these will always be unique to the organisation’s ICT architectural requirements and design.

Hardware Considerations

Media Players

All digital signage systems require signage media players to present signage content.

Media players common features and considerations the current content playlist and schedule for playback to digital signage endpoint. They may be onboard a flat panel display, or a stand-alone device such as a PC or dedicated hardware device.

They may be integrated as part of a digital signage network Content Management System, or stand-alone onboard content management. They can also be integrated with a building warning and alarm system/EWIS (Emergency Warning and Intercommunication System trigger).

The following features should be considered when selecting a media player:

  • use of an onboard hard drive, SD card slot, or USB port

  • Ethernet or WiFi network connectivity

  • digital video output (HDMI, DVI, Displayport, et al) to connect flat panel display or projector

  • audio output to speakers

  • general purpose input-output (GPIO) contact closure for remote trigger of content (ie Push button to start playlist “Welcome to Campus”)

  • serial control interface port (eg RS232) for automation control of flat panel display or projector

  • Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface port (interactive touch display, or keyboard & mouse)

It is also possible to deliver these features using a local PC or in some cases a flat panel display’s own on-board capabilities. If using the latter, it is important to consider that this may lock the organisation into a particular brand or model which may not be scalable or future proof.

When selecting hardware components it is important to understand how these features can be accessed by as well as access the digital signage platform of your organisation.

Display Types - Small to Medium Format Flat Panel Displays

All digital signage systems require displays to present signage content. Flat panel displays are the most common display type used for digital signage, and may be deployed indoors or outdoors.

Common digital signage applications for flat panel displays:

  • general information, messages, and advertising

  • kiosks (wayfinding, information directory, et al)

  • touch tables

  • interactive touch screen content

  • room booking and calendar information

  • menu-boards

Common considerations for flat panel displays would be to factor in if they need to:

  • be rated for continuous, uninterrupted 24/7 or 16/7 operation

  • have the manufacturer’s name and logo hidden

  • support mounting in portrait or landscape orientation

  • feature third party control capability (RS232, Ethernet / LAN)

  • feature an onboard digital signage media player

When considering your choice of flat panel display, there are three main technology options. LCD is the most widely available and the safest option for most applications, however both OLED and ePaper have specific niches where they can provide a better solution in certain environments.

LCD technology

  • greater range of available image sizes

  • flat image surfaces only

  • image quality satisfactory for digital signage applications

  • cost-effective display technology due to large market with many manufacturers

OLED technology

  • display technology susceptible to “burn-in”, always seek advice from manufacturer

  • more recent technology likely at a cost premium

  • flexible display surface options available (curved, flexible)

  • highest quality image contrast of all flat panel display technologies

  • smaller range of sizes and manufacturers

ePaper technology

  • ideal for semi-static, grey-scale content

  • only available in smaller image sizes

  • can be battery powered and standalone

  • can provide cost-saving through low power consumption and higher reliability

  • limited number of manufacturers and use-case scenarios

Video Wall Arrays

Multiple flat panel displays may be arranged together to make a video wall array.

Common digital signage applications for video wall arrays are:

  • main entrances, atriums, and lobbies

  • menu-boards

  • exhibitions

When designing a video wall array the use of commercial grade flat panel displays specifically designed for this application is highly recommended.

Features and considerations:

  • the thinner the bezel, the better the image (should be no more than 3mm)

  • a rating for 24/7 operation is optimal

  • will framerate synchronization be required

  • the ability for colour-balancing is essential

  • must feature third party control capability (RS232, Ethernet / LAN) and not rely on IR

  • typically individual flat panel displays are in of a 16:9 format in the 40” to 60” size range

Be aware there is no standard composition for video wall equipment. Installation and design methods differ between manufacturers. Commonly standard video wall arrays are arranged symmetrically (eg, 2 x 2, 3 x 3) or to match an individual screen’s aspect ratio. They can also be completely flexible or freeform arrangements, although these will typically incur additional cost as they normally require the use of a dedicated video wall processor or windowing processor for flexible image orientation and positioning.

Standard format video wall arrays can generally be created much more cost-effectively, by utilising flat panel displays with onboard video wall features (including daisy-chaining, scaling, and framerate synchronisation).

It is very important to consider the bezel (area of real estate surrounding the screen surface) when selecting flat panel display for a video wall.

Common bezel considerations are:

  • bezel size, as the gap between viewable images may impact readability and continuity of content across multiple displays

  • bezel compensation features, which may be employed to give the illusion that content is hidden behind the bezel, or continues on the adjacent pixels of the adjacent flat panel display

  • bezel designs that change colour to match the average hue of the signage content to hide the visual impact of the bezel are also available

A table giving which provides an example of standard video wall dimensions for 55” flat panel displays is available in the appendix.

Table - Standard Video Wall Arrays Dimensions - 55-inch

The below table is a reference and guideline for total estimated width and height of any given video wall array composed of 55-inch flat panel displays up to 6x6.

Rows/

Columns

1

2

3

4

5

6

1

W 1215mm

H 685mm

W 2430mm, H 685mm

W 3645mm, H 685mm

W 4860mm, H 685mm

W 6075mm, H 685mm

W 7290mm, H 685mm

2

W 1215mm, H 1370mm

W 2430mm, H 1370mm

W 3645mm, H 1370mm

W 4860mm, H 1370mm

W 6075mm, H 1370mm

W 7290mm, H 1370mm

3

W 1215mm, H 2055mm

W 2430mm, H 2055mm

W 3645mm, H 2055mm

W 4860mm, H 2055mm

W 6075mm, H 2055mm

W 7290mm, H 2055mm

4

W 1215mm, H 2740mm

W 2430mm, H 2740mm

W 3645mm, H 2740mm

W 4860mm, H 2740mm

W 6075mm, H 2740mm

W 7290mm, H 2740mm

5

W 1215mm, H 3425mm

W 2430mm, H 3425mm

W 3645mm, H 3425mm

W 4860mm, H 3425mm

W 6075mm, H 3425mm

W 7290mm, H 3425mm

6

W 1215mm, H 4110mm

W 2430mm, H 4110mm

W 3645mm, H 4110mm

W 4860mm, H 4110mm

W 6075mm, H 4110mm

W 7290mm, H 4110mm

LED Video Walls

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) display technology is commonly used for large-format (10sqm and greater) display surfaces, and may be deployed indoors or outdoors.

LED video walls are designed and built to the project requirements. While there is great variance of methods and technology among LED manufacturers, there are some common-place guidelines that can be employed during the planning phase.

Common digital signage applications for LED video walls:

  • Main entrances, atriums, and lobbies

  • Roadside signage

  • Building facade signage

Typically LED video walls are composed of individual panels enclosed in a display cabinet or mounting system installed at signage display location; with the controller, power supply, a video scaler/processor installed within an equipment rack. The digital signage media player or computer can be placed in either location, although commonly some form of local input is also desirable.

An LED video wall is an array of physical pixels (LEDs) that represent individual pixels of digital images, text, and video. As such, often LED video wall resolutions don’t match standard display resolutions (720p, 1080p, WXGA, et al) and this can cause undesirable effects in the displayed content (blank borders, pillarboxing, letterboxing, etc).

If the video wall is mounted to a wall or bulkhead surface, it is highly desirable that the system is front-serviceable. Otherwise the entire wall must be lowered or removed to effect repairs. Sometimes this is preferable (such as when mounted at a height) and in these situations a winch system is a better option.

It is important to be aware that an image is downscaled if the number of LEDs is less than the number of pixels in the digital source image. This may be especially impactful to the readability of text and detailed content.

Pixel pitch is the distance between LED physical pixels. The ideal pixel pitch is determined by the minimum intended viewing distance, using the calculation:

P = D x 2

P is the recommended pixel pitch in millimetres (mm)

D is the minimum intended viewing distance in metres (m)

Example: If minimum viewing distance is 6m, the recommended pixel pitch is 3mm

The total resolution of a LED video wall can be simply calculated using the following formula:

= (W / P) * (H / P) L

L is the LED video wall resolution (total number of LEDs)

W is the video wall surface width millimetres (mm)

H is the video wall surface height millimetres (mm)

P is the pixel pitch in millimetres (mm)

Example: If the video wall dimensions are 3840mm x 2880mm and the pixel pitch is 3.5mm, the resolution is 1097 x 822 (902,792 pixels, close to 720p image)

Commonly LED video walls can produce images with a luminance brightness of between 2,000 to 14,000 Nits. The brightness of the LED video wall should be adjusted accordingly to the ambient lux of the signage location and time of day.

It is also worth noting that LED street lighting and outdoor video walls are the primary cause of light pollution worldwide, and it is important not to contribute to this effect. As such the LED video wall should either be set to the minimum available brightness during night-time operation (typically 1-5%) or preferably have an automatic adjustment system based on ambient light conditions. This will give the best performance under all conditions, and prevent the image being too bright for comfortable viewing on overcast days.

Display Types - Projection

Projection is commonly used for large-format (5sqm and greater) signage applications, and may be deployed indoors or outdoors.

Common digital signage applications for projection:

  • Main entrances, atriums, and lobbies

  • On floor signage

  • On ceiling signage

  • Building facade signage and projection mapping

Projection systems have more flexibility for installation than other signage display types, as they are not restricted to a flat display surface and can ustilise either front or rear projection. They may be projected onto the floor, ceiling, stairs, and other non-flat or non-vertical surfaces. Mirrors can also be utilised to hide the projector and other equipment, as the image may be reflected onto the display surface at any point in the light path.

However, it is very important to note that projected images are more susceptible to the impacts of natural light, and may look washed-out or faded in areas exposed to high ambient light levels. The amount of contrast in an image is always determined by the black level. Where there are high levels of ambient light present, no matter how bright the projector is, the image quality will still be poor.

The best strategies to improve the image quality is always to reduce the ambient light on the display area, however it may also be possible to use a high gain or specialist screen to mitigate the effect. Alternatively consider a different technology such as LED.

There is no recommended brightness that a projected image should achieve specifically in relation to digital signage, as this will entirely depend on the individual use-case scenario. However, a tool to calculate the estimated brightness can be found in the appendix.

Estimated Lux and Nits of a projected image is calculated as follows:

    • Given S is the projected image surface area in square metres (sqm)

    • Given L is the projector ansi lumens rating in

    • Given X is the projected image illuminance in Lux

    • Given N is the projected image luminance in Nits

    • X = L / S

    • N = X / 3.14

Example: With a 8,000 lumens projector producing a projected image of 4.65sqm (130” 16:9), the resulting illuminance is 1,720 Lux and luminance is 547 Nits

Projector Stacking

Projector stacking is a projection technique whereby two or more projectors are combined to create the same projected image.

This technique can be used to counter the issue of blocked light paths, one of the disadvantages of projection. Shadows created by the light path being interrupted (for example by objects or people) may be mitigated by projecting onto the display surface from multiple angles. Commonly this would require the use of more than two projectors, or the shadow will still be obvious.

The brightness of a projection image may be greatly increased by multi-stacking projectors. The resulting brightness is the sum of all projected images produced by the projectors. This also provides a level of redundancy if one projector fails. However, one important disadvantage of projector stacking is that it may be prone to image alignment issues which will significantly impair the image quality.

As such, projector stacking should only be used where there is zero risk of any movement in either the projector or display surface.

Edge-Blended Projection

Edge-blending is where the projected image is expanded across multiple projectors (similar to a video wall array). It is an image processing technique that softens (feathers) the overlapping edges of projected images to give the illusion of a seamless large projected image.

Edge-blending may be achieved by using software to create content with overlap zones. Alternatively hardware such as a video wall processor or an onboard projector feature can be used. It is important to consider the light path from the projector lens to the display surface and any obstructions that block the light path should be avoided or removed.

Be aware that even when perfect edge-blending has been achieved at the point of installation, it is very common for this to degrade over time and your installation may not achieve a pleasing image over the desired life cycle. Regular calibration should be factored in, plus early and ongoing engagement with the manufacturer or integrator is essential.

Weather and Environmental Exposure

If the signage endpoint is located partially outdoors or exposed to weather and environmental impacts in anyway the following measures may be employed:

  • the digital signage equipment should itself be rated to IP66 or housed within an IP66 rated enclosure to protect from dust and water (or certain components could be located in a nearby building)

  • power and data outlets must be protected within an IP66 rated enclosure to protect from dust and water

  • all equipment shall be rated IP51 as a minimum

  • operating temperatures must be within the warrantable operational temperature range stated by the manufacturer(s)

  • Where possible, equipment shall be covered by warranty if subject to damage from weather and environmental effects for the life-cycle of the installation

Natural Light and Image Brightness

If the signage endpoint is located in an area exposed to natural light the following measures may be employed:

  • Avoid projection systems, unless the use-case is well suited and natural light exposure can be mitigated to support the required contrast ratio

  • Install awnings, shrouds or other shade structures to avoid sunlight impacting the digital signage equipment or viewable image

  • Instead of projection, deploy high-brightness flat panel displays (800 Nits or greater)

  • Deploy LED video walls with standard high brightness (2,000 to 14,000 Nits)

  • Avoid installation of digital signage equipment where it may be exposed to direct sunlight, or employ mitigation strategies to ensure manufacturer is satisfied and will maintain their equipment warranty

  • Avoid positioning digital signage endpoints where sunlight directly shines on, or reflects onto the viewable image surface

  • If none of the above can be achieved, consider an alternative location for the digital signage endpoint

Mounting, Enclosures, Environment, and Locations

Digital signage endpoints are commonly installed in areas accessible to the general public. The integrity and security of the mounting and enclosures is vital to mitigate risks of injury, vandalism, and damage to structures or equipment.

Some common best-practice and considerations for digital signage location, mounting and enclosures include:

  • coordinate with internal building teams to ensure sign-off is granted (if required) for any installation that is public-facing

  • calculate the total weight of all digital signage endpoints (display, brackets, digital signage media players), ensuring the structure can support the weight of the installation. These numbers must be provided to building services teams due to the importance of safety of staff, students and the public.

  • viewing requirements for digital signage can be more relaxed compared to viewing within teaching and meeting spaces. The application and related content should lead to a common-sense decision on what is appropriate for viewing distance and viewing angles:

    • where text-based information is critical, AVIXA’s DISCAS calculator for Basic Decision Making (BDM) should be used to determine the appropriate parameters

    • where information is less critical, or designed to draw the intended audience closer to a defined area from which they can read, the “Passive Viewing” category should be used for calculating screen sizing

  • ensuring the digital signage endpoint is installed in a location that is not obstructed by other building elements when viewed from the primary intended audience location. e.g. the viewing path from the entrance of a foyer is not obstructed by a column, or a display viewed through an external window is aligned to avoid mullions

  • ensuring all digital signage media players, cabling, and accessories are fixed in place and hidden from view

  • touch-interactive portion of the content must be at heights between 900mm and 1200mm above finished floor level, or adhere to organisational and project DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) standard mounting heights

  • touch-interactive digital signage endpoints must not have any obstructions directly in front of the display that may block wheelchair access

  • the digital signage endpoint including any mounting and enclosures must not obstruct the path of travel

  • If the digital signage endpoint is located in an area accessible to the general public, consider the following measures:

    • Install equipment at 2.5m or higher to allow for persons passing under on personal vehicles (bicycles, scooters, skateboards etc.)

    • Install equipment within vandal-proof or protective enclosure if required

    • Install remote-monitoring components such as IP cameras, tamper sensors and alarms, if required

  • Consider the environment where the digital signage endpoint is installed:

    • the temperature should remain constant

    • the humidity should remain constant

    • avoid installation locations where any vibrations caused by vehicles, foot traffic, or equipment may damage digital signage equipment

    • air quality should be free of any dust that may impact the equipment performance

    • the digital signage endpoint should not be exposed to direct sunlight

    • where the above environmental factors can not be overcome by location or enclosure selection, investigate alternative products specifically designed to work in the specific environmental conditions of the digital signage location

  • Wall mounted signage endpoints should:

    • ensure the wall is structurally sound for the wall mounted components, Installing structural reinforcement if necessary

    • ensure the mounting brackets and hardware are rated for the size and weight of the display

    • use tilt or articulating arm brackets to angle the display towards the intended viewing position / zone

    • ensure maintenance requirements are considered and agreed upon with local support teams, including mounting points for media players and brackets that allow service positioning

    • if the digital signage display is installed into a wall recess, ensure the recess is of sufficiently sized in accordance with manufacturer’s requirements for ventilation purposes. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer and request in writing confirmation of warranty. This can be deferred to an architect or builder who may have specific aesthetic goals

  • Ceiling mounted signage endpoints should:

    • when installing mounting hardware to concrete sofit, ensure all penetrations and anchor points are coordinated with the building structural engineer

    • when installing mounting hardware onto truss, or other structural elements, ensure those elements will support the total weight of the digital signage endpoint components

    • ensure the mounting brackets and hardware are rated for the size and weight of the display

    • angle the display towards the intended viewing position/zone

    • consider fixing a back box to hide any cabling and devices if the back of the display is visible and prominent

  • Floor standing enclosures (ie kiosks and touch tables):

    • ensure the enclosure and base plate is fixed to the floor surface and will not topple if pushed or if someone leans against it

    • ensure the enclosure has sufficient ventilation to avoid overheating

  • Embedded displays (lifts, vending machines, furniture):

    • ensure the enclosure has sufficient ventilation to avoid overheating

Content Creation Guidelines

Introduction

Organisational AV departments are often responsible for the systems that support digital signage endpoints throughout their campuses. As a general rule, ICT/AV departments should not be responsible for content creation, as this is best left to dedicated marketing and communications teams. The following section provides some assistance to marketing and communications teams to assist with the development of local branding and marketing materials as they relate to a specific digital signage screen install.

Content Automation

At times, content is required to be created for repeatable, scalable systems, such as timetabling display or meeting room management. In these cases, it is recommended to ensure that a simple template can be created in conjunction with marketing and communications, and that content is updated automatically, with no further intervention required by users or internal ICT/AV staff. Where feasible, it is generally best practice to automate content by using live data feeds, provided the source feeds are from reliable sources (e.g. timetabling data) or feeds that are already reviewed and vetted by marketing and communications (e.g. organisation twitter feed or approved news outlet).

Content Managers

Below is a list of roles and organisation partners that may be responsible for the creation of digital signage content and templates:

  • In-house marketing and communications staff

  • organisational branding staff

  • content creation agency

  • digital signage technology partner

Content Style and Consistency

Common methods for ensuring digital signage content is consistent, on-brand, and legible:

  • produce a set of templates for content managers to use when creating new content

  • produce a style guide document detailing the correct use of logos, fonts, colours, and layouts for new digital signage content

  • engage the services of a content creation agency

Content Types

Common content types for digital signage:

  • static slides with text and images

  • high resolution video

  • animations

  • passive/interactive websites (HTML5)

  • live feeds (IPTV, webcasts)

  • data feeds (events, menu items)

  • external data sources (weather, traffic, news, twitter, stock tickers)

  • PowerPoint presentations

  • advertisements

File Sizes and Formats

Best practice guidelines for managing digital signage assets:

  • Ensure all picture files are the same format (JPEG, PNG, TIF, et al)

  • Ensure all video files are the same format (MP4, AVI, et al)

  • Ensure digital signage assets are named in a consistent manner

  • Ensure pictures and videos are compressed appropriately to reduce network traffic and file storage requirements

Types of Content Interactivity

Common ways that digital signage can interact with audiences:

  • Touch screen

  • Touchless gesture-based or voice control

  • Mobile device interaction (eg QR-code, mobile app)

  • Content playback triggered by scheduled event

  • Content playback triggered by age/gender/level of attentiveness (biometrics)

Content Design Best Practice

Best practice guidelines for content design:

  • Fonts and readability:

    • Select from sans serif fonts

    • Minimum text height is determined by the maximum viewing distance calculated as follows:

      • Given V is the maximum viewing distance in millimetres (mm)

      • Given T is the minimum text height in millimetres (mm)

      • T = V / 500

      • Example: At a viewing distance of 8m (8,000mm), all text should be at least 16mm high in order to be legible. See “physical image height to vertical pixels scaling factor” below for further explanation and a table to assist with this.

  • Concise text and messages:

    • If the audience is in transit, text should convey a message in as few words as possible:

      • 3 lines of text with 5 words per line

      • 5 lines of text with 3 words per line

    • If the audience is waiting (lobby, waiting room) text may be up to 1 paragraph

  • Design for accessibility, using organisational and/or national standards

  • Be mindful of colours and contrast that may make the content difficult to distinguish

  • Avoid rapid strobe effects that may harm people who are prone to seizures

  • If applicable, communications and marketing managers must peer review content to ensure branding and messages are approved

  • If the content will be reused as a template, consider adding notes or comments that may help others to modify the content for new messages and playlists

  • If the content contains 3D scenes rendered in real-time, specialist media player hardware may be required

  • If the content contains audio, speakers may be required near to the digital signage endpoint, however if the playback of the content is nearby the regular working area of people, it is important to consider that repeating audio will become annoying, and a request or direct intervention to mute the audio will be very likely.

  • Content protected by copyright and digital rights:

    • ensure the content may be used for digital signage purposes

    • digital signage may be categorised as public broadcasting as it relates to copyright law

    • digital signage presentation may also be considered a modification of the original artwork

    • ensure any credits, or royalties are distributed to the relevant parties (if applicable)

Table - Physical Image Height to Vertical Pixels Scaling Factor

The below table is a reference lookup for the scaling factor of number of vertical pixels across the physical display viewable image height. It may be used to estimate the text image height for digital signage content. By knowing the estimated text height, and the estimated maximum viewing distance, the content creator can ensure readability of the content.

Example:

  • A 55-inch display has a resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) and is installed in portrait orientation;

  • The viewable image is 1250mm high;

  • The scaling factor is 0.7 (1250mm / 1920 pixels);

  • If the maximum viewing distance is 8m, text should be at least 16mm high to be legible

  • 8,000mm / 500 = 16mm

  • 16mm / 0.7 = 23 pixels

  • Content text should be at least 23 pixels high

720p Landscape

1080p Landscape

720p Portrait

1080p Portrait

720 vertical pixels

1080 vertical pixels

1280 vertical pixels

1920 vertical pixels

Image height (mm)

Vertical pixels scaling factor

Vertical pixels scaling factor

Vertical pixels scaling factor

Vertical pixels scaling factor

H 250mm

0.3

0.2

0.2

0.1

H 500mm

0.7

0.5

0.4

0.3

H 750mm

1.0

0.7

0.6

0.4

H 1000mm

1.4

0.9

0.8

0.5

H 1250mm

1.7

1.2

1.0

0.7

H 1500mm

2.1

1.4

1.2

0.8

H 1750mm

2.4

1.6

1.4

0.9

H 2000mm

2.8

1.9

1.6

1.0

H 2250mm

3.1

2.1

1.8

1.2

H 2500mm

3.5

2.3

2.0

1.3

H 2750mm

3.8

2.5

2.1

1.4

H 3000mm

4.2

2.8

2.3

1.6

H 3250mm

4.5

3.0

2.5

1.7

H 3500mm

4.9

3.2

2.7

1.8

H 3750mm

5.2

3.5

2.9

2.0

H 4000mm

5.6

3.7

3.1

2.1

H 4250mm

5.9

3.9

3.3

2.2

H 4500mm

6.3

4.2

3.5

2.3

H 4750mm

6.6

4.4

3.7

2.5

H 5000mm

6.9

4.6

3.9

2.6

H 5250mm

7.3

4.9

4.1

2.7

H 5500mm

7.6

5.1

4.3

2.9

H 5750mm

8.0

5.3

4.5

3.0

H 6000mm

8.3

5.6

4.7

3.1

Glossary of Terms

Term

Definition

AV

Audiovisual (AV) encompasses the integrated devices for managing the routing, processing, and presentation of video and audio content. It may also include associated AV network data streams, user control interfaces, and automation processes.

Burn-In

Relates to flat panel display technology where continuous operation can cause a persistent ghosting effect

Central Management Dashboard

A software application user interface facilitating the management of a digital signage network

Commercial-grade

Equipment that is rated for commercial or industrial installations

Consumer-grade

Equipment that is rated for domestic consumer market. Warranties may not be valid if installed in a commercial setting

Endpoint

The display, media player, mounting bracket, accessories, and cables for a digital signage location

Flat Panel Display

LCD, Plasma, or OLED digital display to present digital signage content

ICT Architecture

Information and communications technology architecture encompasses the computers, servers, phone systems, and network switching and routing for an organisation’s network

IP Address

An Internet protocol address (IP Address) is used for network communication between computer devices. The IP address allows a device to be identified on the network

IPTV

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is the delivery of television content over IP networks

Kiosk

Touch-interactive digital signage endpoint to provide information via an interactive graphical interface. Commonly used for wayfinding, directories, and exhibitions.

LED

Light-Emitting Diode is a direct light source technology utilised in LED video wall displays

LED display cabinet

The tileable enclosure and display surface for individual LED pixels. May be tiled in flexible configurations to create a large display surface

Lux

A measure of illuminance intensity for light hitting a given surface area

Maximum Viewing Distance

Furthest audience viewing distance

Media Player

Playback device for digital signage content

Minimum Viewing Distance

Closest audience viewing distance

Nits

A measure of illuminance intensity for light hitting a given surface area from a given distance

SD Card

Secure Digital (SD) memory card digital storage media

Video Wall

Large-format display surface commonly composed of multiple smaller display elements or flat panel displays to create the illusion of a seamless larger image

Video Wall Array

A video wall display made up of flat panel displays arranged edge to edge to make a seamless larger image

Viewing Angle

Estimated off-centre viewing angle from audience eye-level to the centre of the display

Viewing Distance

Estimated distance from the audience eyes to the display

WiFi;

WLAN

Wireless Local Area Network, also known as WLAN is a wireless network communications technology that uses radio waves to establish connections between computers