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Technology Showcase: LCDs for Houses of Worship

Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

LCD flatpanels have varied responsibilities in worship facilities.

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CoolTouch Monitors RX-1701A

CoolTouch Monitors RX-1701A

In the 11th Century, the German monk Theophilus wrote “A Little Scroll of Diverse Arts” containing instructions for the production of stained-glass windows in hopes of encouraging his fellow architectural craftsmen to “show forth to the beholders a vision of paradise, bright as springtide with flowers of every hue.” Ever since, houses of worship have been adorned with glowing images that seem to come from on high.

Although the techniques of making stained glass have changed little during the ensuing years, today's churches, mosques, and synagogues will often present their congregations with images that have been digitally generated as much as those with heavenly illumination. While the competing technologies empowering digital displays bear witness to various advantages, it seems that LCD flatpanels are increasingly the choice for houses of worship because of their flexibility, long life, and lower cost of operation.

That can even extend to the largest imaging requirements where multiple LCD panels configured in a video-wall are competing with once-dominant video projectors to provide spectacle to the congregation. This has the significant advantage of being able to disassemble the videowall after, for example, the Christmas pageant season has passed and the membership wants to use those individual screens in other meeting areas.

In fact, modern houses of worship have found so many uses for digital displays that it is becoming difficult to identify HOW as a niche market anymore. Their needs range from typical digital-signage applications to entertaining the tots in child-care rooms to spreading the pastor's word in overflow rooms and even as confidence monitors behind the altars or reading tablets in the pews for the visually impaired. In addition, anyone surfing TV stations on a Sunday morning will be well aware that many religious organizations have invested in full TV-production capabilities. That inevitably involves the best of broadcast-quality monitors — which, since the implementation of Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directives in 2006, is a role being filled by the most critical quality of LCD displays.

As their prices drop, the popularity of LCD flat-panels is spreading into all areas of display requirements at work, play, or prayer. DisplayBlog — a display market news, analysis, research, and consulting firm — reports that overall U.S. sales of LCD screens has risen from 8,737,394 in 2005 to 22,556,437 in 2008, although current economic trends indicate this may slow in 2009. The domestic sales curve seems to bulge in the 30in.-to-39in. range, which represents 7,662,542 units sold stateside in 2008, while the 40in-to-44in. range alone accounted for 4,469,221 screens. DisplayBlog's research also reveals that almost 600 LCD screens 70in. and larger were sold last year, which indicates the extent these giants are encroaching on arenas previously reserved for plasma or projection presentations.

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