InfoComm 07 has just wrapped in Anaheim. The show featured record attendance, at over 29,000, and despite the presence of a (substantial) "Digital Signage Pavilion" on the show floor, much of the show was in fact pertinent to the digital signage market–and not just the big Plasma or LCD display providers like NEC, Sony, Samsung, Planar, Panasonic, Pioneer, Mitsubishi, LG, etc. Digital Signage Weekly will be highlighting the new flat panel, networking, and content management products released at InfoComm over the next weeks. But as I head home from InfoComm, several developments at the show warrant more-than-usual notice, from camps that are increasingly providing tools for the digital signage market.
Digital signage display is not just about flat panels. Video projection is gaining traction for digital signage, where larger images or needed and for innovative applications such as putting images on the side of buildings. And LED is an important part of digital signage as well, when displays are needed outdoors or in other environments that require very high brightness.
At InfoComm in Anaheim, Barco showed its new NX-4 LED product. The new 4mm platform is a breakthrough in LED, not just for its high resolution and brightness, but for its "dark chip"– a black instead of a white reflector that increases the contrast ratio, and a magnetic attachment configuration that allows the LED to be easily pulled off. The NX-4 is destined to become a feature at the major car shows, where the best, most hi-res, most high-contrast LED is needed. And from there, this product, and other LED products that were shown in Anaheim will be leading the high end of the digital signage market. Also at InfoComm, new-generation LED products from companies like Element Labs demonstrated that the LED is not just for big-budget car shows or malls in Dubai or Las Vegas. Look this year for LED to make a big splash in temporary signage (like product promotions, or big trade show booths) as well as in permanent installs.
Video projection for digital signage is increasing. Once customers see the value of digital screen-based messaging, many of them want larger screens than flat LCD or plasma can provide, and many of them want to project huge images onto the sides of buildings, onto floors, on big open walls, etc. So ignore projection in digital signage at your peril–there's a growing market there. DLP projection is not the only game in town, but Texas Instruments provided the most news at InfoComm, announcing on the eve of the show opening that a wide variety of their projection manufacturer partners would be showing in Anaheim projectors for the commercial market that feature TI's BrilliantColor. And indeed they did. BrilliantColor-enable commercial market projectors, combined with some innovative processing developments on the part of TI's partners, made this InfoComm the most prolific in years in terms of new-generation DLP projectors.
BrilliantColor technology was featured in more than fourteen new projectors debuting at InfoComm. And Texas Instruments expects more than seventy products featuring BrilliantColor technology to be on the market this year. Key to BrilliantColor is the use of a 6 or 7 segment color wheel, previously only available in home theater projectors, but now being offered for commercial market DLP projectors. The basic BrilliantColor wheel is a R-G-B-C-M-Y-+ wheel, with the additional space (+) for either white (for added brightness) or for Neutral Density (for more contrast). This configuration adds cyan, magenta, and yellow to the typical red, green, blue configuration for more color combinations and hence a much wider color palette. But it is also coupled with increased imaging processing speed, with up to 10x faster image processing. The result is an image with more color range and one that avoids any of the lingering color break-up that some (not all) viewers experienced with previous-generation single-chip DLP.
Several DLP partners showed new products using BrilliantColor technology at InfoComm, including BenQ, Mitsubishi, NEC, Optoma, Sharp, and Toshiba.