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Picture This: Digital Signage That’ll Grab You

Apr 10, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

The 3D trend could position digital signage in a new light.

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Admittedly, resolution loss is still an issue, particularly with panels that try to create the many viewing sweet spots that would make public display practical. By definition, a public-signage passerby will rarely remain front and center long enough to experience 3D. Therefore, any autostereoscopic, glasses-free digital-signage panel will need to offer multiple viewing zones.

Philips has been able to produce an autostereoscopic 3D LCD panel with nine viewing zones, enabling a viewer’s eyes to experience the 3D effect even as they move past the display in a shopping mall, entertainment venue, or other public location. After showing autostereoscopic 3D LCD prototypes for several years, Philips recently began shipping three models: the original 1920x1080 42in. panel (which can be grouped in a 3x3 matrix to form a 132in. 3D WOWzone display), a 1920x1080 52in. panel, and a QFHD 3840x2160 56in. panel. Prices range from less than $10,000 to roughly $25,000, so there is a clear price premium for the 3D capabilities.

Insight Media, an industry analyst firm that has written a comprehensive report on autostereoscopic 3D for digital signage, estimates that these new 3D panels cost roughly 2.2 times as much as similarly sized 2D panels. However, Insight Media sees the potential for a much greater novelty impact in a digital-signage environment, and that’s what Philips and others are hoping will drive adoption. Although Philips is the only manufacturer that has actually come to market, several others—including LG and Samsung—have demonstrated similar technology at tradeshows. Others, including Apple and Sharp, are also working on comparable technology.

Grabbing What?

The wow factor of a 3D image in a public-signage setting is fairly easy to appreciate, but there are, of course, a few caveats associated with adopting the technology beyond just the displays. As with any digital-signage installation, capital expenditures are only one aspect to consider. Finding a continuing source of fresh content is critical for keeping public signage informative, eye-catching, and ultimately effective. That’s getting a lot easier at all levels for 2D content, with digital-signage vendors developing straightforward ways for administrators to generate content with templates and text. Yet 3D presents new problems.

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