- On April 14, 2023
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If your business has a welcoming outdoor area, then outdoor audio-visual (AV) is an essential part of your digital signage design. Outdoor readerboards, self-service kiosks, digital menu boards, signage, and outdoor entertainment displays each play an important role in engaging your visitors as they enjoy the exterior spaces of your venue. Whether you have a charming terrace, a lively courtyard, a drive-thru menu, or a trendy rooftop bar where guests want to watch the big game on outdoor TVs, you can take advantage of a wide range of outdoor AV design options.
Outdoor AV technology has advanced significantly in recent years. You can upgrade your displays with many new products and innovations designed to deliver high-quality audio and visual experiences in an outdoor setting – especially in the realm of digital signage.
What should your venue consider if you want to invest in the latest outdoor signage? We’ll explore the nine most important factors of outdoor AV design and installation.
1) Weather resistance
Every piece of outdoor digital signage needs to be able to stand against the weather. Durability in a wide range of weather conditions is essential, including rain, high winds, humidity, and extreme temperature. This ensures that you will not have to run out and protect your technology every time bad weather blows through.
You will want to look for displays that are designed to be weather-resistant, with features like waterproofing, dust-proof design, anti-glare screens, and encapsulating enclosures. Kiosks and outdoor displays, for example, typically have superior sealing against the weather and anchoring against the wind compared to setting up indoor technology in an outdoor venue.
Additionally, outdoor sound features are crucial, as the signage needs to deliver clear audio even in outdoor environments with ambient noise. Adequate outdoor lighting is also essential, as the signage needs to be visible in varying lighting conditions, including bright sunlight and low-light situations.
2) Brightness and contrast
Until you’ve seen a normal screen in bright sunlight, you might not realize the importance of brightness and contrast. Your outdoor AV solutions need to be visible in bright and dark conditions, with enough contrast that the content is clear and easy to read. You should look into devices and displays with high brightness levels and advanced lighting control. Anti-glare screens or screen coating is also essential for visibility in the mid-day sun.
For venues that will be open at night, having displays that can turn down the brightness will be equally useful. This way, your guests will be able to enjoy your displays without losing their comfortable and relaxing night-sight.
With adaptive brightness, high-contrast, and anti-glare displays, your digital signage can achieve optimal visibility in outdoor environments.
3) Connectivity and compatibility
Much like how you would prepare your home entertainment area and smart TV in your living room, you also have to ensure connectivity and compatibility for outdoor use when using outdoor signage. And much like your home technology, not all outdoor entertainment systems and displays connect the same way. Each device needs to be connected to the internet – or at least an internal network – and must be compatible with a wide range of devices and control software. Wireless connectivity options for your outdoor displays include WiFi and Bluetooth. Wired control options include ethernet, HDMI, and USB-C connections.
Consider displays that offer a selection of connectivity options so that you can build your display network and venue design in whatever arrangement works best for the space.
4) Audio quality
Outdoor digital signage often includes an audio system that includes speakers or soundbars. While the audio may not always be in use, you will want to make sure it is of good quality and can project at a sufficient volume level for the environment. The most common mistake in outdoor AV is using audio that is loud but not clear, or clear but not loud enough to be heard.
Look for integrated displays or separate sound equipment that can be easily adjusted for optimal sound clarity when sound is used. You may also want to experiment with the placement of your outdoor speakers and soundbars to create a more immersive and clear listening experience, whether you plan to play music or broadcast spoken messages.
5) Maintenance and support
Another factor that is crucial to keep in mind during this process is to build maintenance into your outdoor AV plan. All digital signage requires regular maintenance and support to ensure that it continues to function well over time. Consider how maintenance hatches and access points will work when designing your displays, including custom stands, positioning, and cabinetry.
You will also want to consider partnering with a vendor or service provider that specializes in ongoing maintenance and support for digital signage. This will ensure that if your display or sound quality ever drops, you will have an immediate and professional solution.
6) Viewing distance and angle
Where will your audience be in relation to your outdoor displays? Whether you are creating digital menu boards, navigation guides, or outdoor entertainment systems, think about the distance and angle from which your audience will view the displays. Kiosks are often interacted with up close, while outdoor televisions and menu boards may be further away, requiring a more accommodating angle from above and larger text or details.
Depending on the size of the display, the distance between the display and the viewer may need to be adjusted to ensure optimal visibility. You can adjust the angle, contrast, brightness, and size of your displayed content to optimize the viewer experience.
7) Power and energy efficiency
Consider how your outdoor signage will be powered, and how you will keep that power source safe. Energy efficiency has also become a paramount concern for venue design. Look for devices that provide a high-quality viewing experience using the minimum amount of electricity.
While buried cables are the most traditional option, you can also power your outdoor displays using renewable energy sources like solar panels or even an on-site wind turbine. Solar panel awnings that provide shade for your guests and reduce glare are a popular choice for both kiosks and outdoor entertainment displays.
Security is of paramount importance for outdoor AV signage for businesses due to several reasons. Outdoor signage technology is vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and unauthorized access, as it is exposed to the elements and accessible to the public. The loss or damage of outdoor signage can result in significant financial losses and disrupt business operations. In addition, outdoor signage may display sensitive or proprietary information, such as pricing, promotions, or brand messaging, which, if tampered with, can harm a business’s reputation and brand image. Lastly, outdoor signage is often connected to networks or the internet, which can be potential entry points for cyber attacks, leading to data breaches, system disruptions, or other security risks.
This is why it’s important for businesses to take physical security measures, such as installing security cameras, motion sensors, and tamper-proof enclosures. These things can deter theft, vandalism, and unauthorized access. Placing the signage in well-lit areas or installing anti-glare screens can also enhance security.
Businesses should also secure the network connections and devices used in their signage system. This can be achieved by using encrypted connections, strong authentication methods, and regularly updating and patching software and firmware to address vulnerabilities. Employing firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs) can also add an additional layer of protection. Also, implementing content authentication and authorization protocols, such as digital signatures or access control lists, can ensure that only authorized personnel can modify or upload content to the signage system.
Regular monitoring and auditing of the signage system, including checking for signs of tampering, unusual activities, or system vulnerabilities, is also crucial. Employee training on security best practices, including password management and awareness of social engineering attacks, can help prevent security breaches. Lastly, having a backup and disaster recovery plan in place can minimize downtime and data loss in case of security incidents or technical failures.
9) Content management
Lastly, consider how you will send new content to each display and how you will manage the display experience for your guests. There are several digital signage management systems and audio-visual software options that can help you create the ideal outdoor AV experience for your guests. Your management software makes it possible for you to create immersive and satisfying outdoor entertainment or information systems and to keep your content fresh with relevant new information or engaging new entertainment. Look for displays that are compatible with content management systems for both scheduling and updating your content on a regular basis.
In addition, you may want to look for a cloud-based content management system (CMS). With a cloud-based CMS, businesses can easily update and manage their signage content remotely from anywhere, using a web-based interface. The content is stored in the cloud, eliminating the need for physical media or on-site servers. This allows for real-time updates and seamless content scheduling, making it easy to customize and change content on the go, without the need for on-site technical assistance.
Cloud-based CMS also provides scalability, allowing businesses to manage multiple screens and locations from a single centralized platform. This eliminates the need for manual updates and ensures consistent and timely content across all screens. Cloud-based CMS is also cost-effective, as they eliminate the need for expensive hardware and maintenance, making it a cost-efficient solution for businesses of all sizes. Overall, cloud-based CMS offer flexibility, convenience, and efficiency, making them a valuable tool for businesses to effectively manage their digital signage content and keep it up-to-date.
Build your outdoor AV solution with Keyser
Here at Keyser, our specialty is the commercial installation of digital signage and entertainment systems. We can help you design, equip, and build your ideal outdoor AV solution, whether you are creating an environment of digital signage and kiosks or a party zone with outdoor televisions and a kicking sound system. We can also help you maintain your outdoor AV so that your guests enjoy beautiful quality sights and sound year after year.
Contact Keyser to get started on planning your next outdoor AV display design and installation. We look forward to bringing your vision of a digitally enhanced outdoor space to life.