Digital Signage for New Buildings Pt. 2: Hardware

Visual Communications technology is quickly becoming a vital tool for how society interacts and functions. From weather updates in a doctor’s office, video walls showcasing a company’s latest product, or wayfinding screens that improve navigation, people are quickly becoming used to digital forms of communication. Since Visual Communications installations can be complex, it is important to get them done right the first time. Building digital signage into a structure once it is erected is much more difficult than plotting it into the design process.

Once you have decided to incorporate a Visual Communications solution into the blueprints of your project, the next step is understanding the hardware that will be installed.

Hardware Considerations 

It requires an incredible amount of planning to account for all of the components involved in digital signage. From mounting fixtures to power needs, there are a variety of things to think about. The following are some key considerations for digital displays that you should be looking at early on in the project:

Utilities 

Where are the cable and internet scoped into the design? Early identification of power and Internet ports saves from costly construction later on down the road.

Is the power of Ethernet (known as POE) able to pass a maximum of 15.4 W of DC power? If not, POE+ may be required for your installation—which can pass a maximum of 30W of DC. A professional Visual Communications expert can help you determine the exact POE your structure is running and the type of content player you may need.

Purchasing

Although you do not have to purchase hardware and software from the same vendor, it is a smart idea to ensure they are compatible. The major vendors for digital signage hardware include:

  • NEC
  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Planar
     

The leading PC vendors include: 

  • GigaByte
  • Intel
     

Type 

Deciding how you want visitors to interact with the digital signage will also dictate the type of hardware you purchase. If you are interested in interactive capabilities, there are multiple styles of screens on the market. And if you are interested in non-interactive screens for video walls, readerboards and more, there is an ideal mix of hardware for those applications too. Plus, you can choose from LED and LCD screens, both of which have their benefits.

Location

Where you scope the Visual Communications will also determine the type of hardware you buy. In the early stages of planning, it is critical to delineate whether the screens are intended for indoor or outdoor use.

There are outdoor and semi-outdoor rated displays that factor in conditions like:

  • Temperature
  • Direct sunlight
  • Humidity
  • Content player storage
  • Building structure
  • General climate 

If there is a building structure within 300 feet of the display, the signal can be extended.

Indoor lighting must also be considered. The ambient light inside will help determine the type of hardware you purchase. Buying a screen with low light output may save on costs, but could seriously reduce the effectiveness of your digital signage network. Ambient lighting may also require additional hardware, like anti-glare screens or anti-reflective glass.

Installation 

A variety of hardware questions also come into play during installation, so it's best to have those answered early on. Some screens may need to be recessed to meet ADA regulations. In these cases, additional hardware is required to ensure proper ventilation. 

Mounting hardware is also something that is typically overlooked. Some mounting options provide easy, tool-free access to the content player, and others don’t—not mounting hardware is created equal. And in spaces where there aren't suitable walls, enclosures are essential to maximize the effectiveness of your solution.

Additional Considerations

If there is any point during the development and planning process in which you are guessing on hardware, it is best to consult a Visual Communications expert. In instances where there are questions regarding power and data, a CAD professional may need to step in to assist on design. 

AV Design services may also be helpful to determine your hardware needs. They can help guarantee the success of a complex solution by staging new or unusual hardware configurations prior to installation and ensuring everything is accounted for.

There are many things to consider when scoping digital signage into your new building or renovation, but with the proper information, you can avoid costly mistakes. Again, scoping digital signage design into the plans early on will ensure accurate planning, purchasing and installation of a Visual Communications solution.

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