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Technology Showcase: LCD Lobby Displays

Dec 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

From kiosks to videowalls, the selection of hospitality flatscreens is growing.

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Up until about three years ago, the mercury in the cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) light sources used in most LCD panels were prone to settling, so when the display was placed in a vertical portrait mode, there would be unevenness in the backlight of the panel. But advances in lamp technology have overcome this effect, and most newer CCFLs have only up to half the mercury of conventional fluorescents.

However, despite their name, CCFLs can get very hot with prolonged use. One major factor that differentiates commercial LCD panels intended for lobby displays from the LCD TVs in homes or hotel rooms is concern for the heat buildup when the unit is intended for 24/7 operation. Some manufacturers have begun hanging the internal components from independent cage structures that isolate the panels from the enclosing cabinets, while others have come up with ultra-quiet fan configurations to move more air through the display than convection currents can transport. The even more recent trend to use LEDs as illumination sources will obviate this concern further and provide even greater energy efficiency. And when organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology comes of age, heat concerns will be relegated to tales told around the campfire by gray-bearded engineers.

Finally, since drawing the attention of passersby without intruding upon their space is the goal of a lobby display, many of the latest technologies for innovative image presentation are being adopted for their screens. This includes multiple pictures that present themselves from different angles as the viewer walks by, touchscreen surfaces, and passive or autostereoscopic 3D displays that can reach out to onlookers even when they are not wearing 3D glasses.

Lobby displays are often referred to as “hospitality displays,” and their goal is to say: “Hi. How Are You? Can I help you a) find your way? b) find what you are looking for? c) get you where need to go when you need to be there? or d) discover something that you did not know was available in this area?” Here is a look at some of the more innovative designs for these gentle ambassadors that help us find what we sometimes don't even know we are seeking.

Akira designs and assembles its own line of indoor and outdoor commercial LCD products right in its northern California facilities. The company's ALM Series (46in., 52in., 70in., and 82in.) open-frame LCD panels for single-screen or videowall use can have either a touchscreen or autostereoscopic 3D overlay. The 3D mode uses a parallax barrier system that currently boasts 12 views (with 21-plus views in development), letting multiple observers experience Z-axis space simultaneously while standing up to roughly 32ft. away to experience an almost 10ft.-deep 3D image. Akira's Interactive Touch Display/eWhite Board transforms viewers into interactive manipulators of content. Using the most advanced IR image sensors allows Akira's eWhite Board to provide an accurate and natural writing experience with a 10-millisecond response time on even the largest screen. Akira also offers an extra-widescreen format Pana Series that introduces a unique display format for the digital-signage arena with its panoramic viewing. If the lobby area is outdoors, Akira's Outlook Series features 46in. and 52in. outdoor LCD displays for high-brightness installation sites that work with the ambient light to create a brighter display to accommodate the most highly lit sites.

AOC 2230Fm

AOC 2230Fm

AOC has introduced its new HD3 technology with the launch of its 2230Fm display, which is described as “a new breed of multifunctional high-definition display technology.” AOC's 2230Fm 22in. monitor includes both a digital 4-1 card reader and USB inputs so you can view video, pictures, and music without a PC. With a unique ring design for onscreen display adjustments, AOC's 2230Fm claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 20,000:1; 2-millisecond response time; and dynamic color boost that allows you to isolate a section of the screen and manipulate the color for that section only. You don't need a separate content player or external PC with the 2230Fm to put content on its screen. You simply load a video, welcome sign, or any other digital lobby information content onto a memory device, plug it into the display, and use AOC's proprietary, user-friendly menu and remote control to experience the display PC-free. The 2230Fm is PC/Windows- or Mac-content ready. It comes with an analog VGA D-sub or DVI port and in a 360-degree glossy, piano-black finish.

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