Exploring Outdoor Spaces: the Power of AV in QSR Drive-Thru and Outdoor Dining

Welcome to the season of outdoor adventures! With warmer weather beckoning, patrons are eager to dine al fresco and enjoy the great outdoors. As the demand for outdoor dining and drive-thru experiences continues to rise, so does the importance of integrating audiovisual (AV) technology to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction.

Now is the perfect time for Pro AV integrators to dive into the realm of Outdoor AV solutions and grow their offerings for the high-growth Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR) market.

Let’s explore the innovative applications of AV solutions for QSRs and outdoor dining areas.

Peerless-AV menu board drivethru KOF555-31. Digital Menu Boards for Dynamic Displays

Say goodbye to static menu boards and hello to dynamic digital displays. Digital menu boards offer QSRs the flexibility to update menu items, promotions, and pricing in real time, catering to changing customer preferences, deals, and seasonal offerings. These eye-catching displays not only capture attention but also drive upsell opportunities and enhance the overall customer experience with a more efficient ordering process. Additionally, customers can view the items in their order on the screen, allowing them to make any corrections necessary before reaching the window.

Peerless-AV’s Outdoor Digital Menu Boards are all-weather rated and provide a simple installation process while allowing users to update the digital content remotely and in real-time.

2. Enhanced Communication in QSR Drive-Thru Lanes

Microphone and SpeakerGone are the days of crackling speakers and static-filled orders. AV technology is revolutionizing the drive-thru ordering experience, providing crystal-clear audio and seamless communication between customers and staff. Peerless-AV’s Speaker and Mic retrofits to the Outdoor Digital Menu Board for quick and simple installation, while delivering clear audio quality to ensure that every order is heard accurately, and every interaction is memorable.

3. Convenience of Interactive Ordering Kiosks

LG KioskFor those who choose to order in-store, interactive ordering kiosks empower customers to take control of their ordering experience. These user-friendly touchscreens provide a convenient way for patrons to browse menus, customize orders, and complete transactions independently. By streamlining the ordering process, QSRs can reduce wait times, minimize order errors, and improve overall operational efficiency.

Designed to elevate any quick-service restaurant, the LG Self-Ordering Kiosk Monitor showcases vivid product images for easy ordering and doubles as an advertising screen when in standby mode. Maintenance is a breeze with its drawer-type design, allowing access to essential components, like the receipt printer and card reader without needing to disassemble the body. To learn more, watch the Exertis Almo podcast discussion on QSRs and kiosks.

4. Immersive Outdoor Dining Experiences

Transform outdoor dining areas into vibrant entertainment hubs with AV technology. Weather-resistant speakers, outdoor TVs, and ambient lighting create immersive environments that captivate diners and enhance their dining experience. Whether it’s live music, sports events, or digital signage displaying mouth-watering menu items, AV solutions elevate the outdoor dining experience.

Peerless AV Outdoor DisplayThe Xtreme High Bright Displays from Peerless-AV are built to withstand the elements. These displays provide stunning picture quality – even under direct sunlight. With an operating temperature range of -31F to 140F and AK10 protective glass, Xtreme Displays are designed to thrive year-round. With an ambient light sensor that adjusts brightness accordingly, these displays offer impressive versatility for any outdoor setting.

Designed exclusively for the Peerless-AV 75″ Xtreme High Bright Outdoor Display, the Outdoor Landscape/Portrait Wall Mount combines versatility, simplicity, and stability.

Samsung’s BHT Series Pro Terrace Edition is an outdoor QLED TV ready for a variety of customizable possibilities. Designed to engage customers in any outdoor environment, the series provides ultra-bright picture quality, weather-resistant durability, easy content management, and business-grade solutions. No matter the season, the IP55 weatherproof rating protects the display from the outdoor elements including humidity, dust, and heat.

BHT Series Pro TV Terrace Edition

Enhance the outdoor audio experience with excellent full-range sound quality and 360-degree coverage of listening space, JBL’s Compact 5” Mushroom-Style Landscape Speaker is ideal for restaurants, pool areas bars, outdoor food courts, and more. And with a compact size and hunter green exterior, the speaker easily blends in with the landscaping.

As detailed in the blog, “Bringing Harman-ies Outdoors,” Rob Voorhees, Exertis Almo Business Development Manager, provides an in-depth guide about the outdoor audio category, featuring product recommendations for various outdoor projects and applications.

5. Seamless Integration and Scalability

One of the key advantages of AV technology is its ability to seamlessly integrate with existing infrastructure and scale to meet evolving business needs. Whether you’re working with a small QSR looking to enhance their drive-thru experience or a large chain expanding their outdoor dining offerings, AV solutions can be tailored to suit their specific requirements and budget.

In conclusion, the integration of AV technology in QSR drive-thru lanes and outdoor dining areas is transforming the way customers engage with food service establishments. By leveraging innovative AV solutions, QSRs can enhance communication, streamline operations, and create memorable experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

Ready to elevate your outdoor dining and drive-thru restaurant projects?
Reach out to us today to explore how our range of AV hardware and software solutions can help you achieve your goals.

Outdoor Spaces for Hospitality

Outdoor Spaces Hospitality blog-feature-image

All parts of the country are seeing warm weather now, which means no matter where you are, it could be time to upgrade your outdoor spaces. We are currently stocked up on many items to bring new life to your outdoor spaces for your guests. We have great selections on commercial outdoor furniture and accessories, along with pro audio and displays.

Our Cape Soleil commercial outdoor furniture has been very popular with many hotels around the country and continues to grow. When we first launched the furniture line, one of our first big installations was a Courtyard Marriott in South Padre, TX. Featuring a custom color and being placed on many levels and areas of the property, we have yet to see a single issue after many years of use. Cape Soleil was designed to withstand any outdoor environment, and accompanied with a great warranty, it will allow you to enjoy outdoor spaces for many years, worry-free.

We currently have special pricing on bar height table and chairs and plenty of stock to ship out immediately. Along with the classic items found in the catalog, we have recently added some Adirondack-style chairs and tables to our offerings. These are currently in stock with a variety of colors and styles. These eco-friendly products are also produced in the USA which allows for reduced lead times on large quantities! Our outdoor selection isn’t just limited to seating and tables. For those of you in the cooler areas, we have a variety patio heaters and fire pits stocked up as well.

While some guests may just like the quiet outside experience and reading the by pool, you might have some guests who want to catch the game, or maybe you have an outdoor bar that needs a TV and audio. If so, we’ve got you covered with products from Samsung and JBL by Harman. We have Samsung outdoor displays with options for all spaces, whether shady or bright. For sound, we have soundbars from Samsung, or more traditional style speakers from JBL by Harman. These can upgrade a marine-kit grille for salt-air environments. Another interesting audio item we have is the Atlas GSS-G garden speaker, designed for theme parks, hotels, or any architecturally landscaped area, with a sleek design that blends into any environment.

While the furniture and audio/video are our biggest categories, we can assist with other needs as well. For appliances, we have small outdoor refrigerators from Danby and a few premium brands, like U-Line, with outdoor icemakers and built-in refrigeration and freezers. With many products available, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Exertis Almo Hospitality rep today to see what we can assist you with!

Want to know more about Hospitality at Exertis Almo?
Connect with us on LinkedIn or visit Hospitality.ExertisAlmo.com

Steve Dowsett
About the Author

Steve Dowsett

FF&E Coordinator

Exertis Almo – Hospitality

Ingress Protection: the other IP of AV

When you hear the letters “IP“, most people probably think of Internet Protocol, Intellectual Property, or maybe even Innings Pitched.  Here, we are going to be referring to Ingress Protection, or how well an electrical enclosure can protect from the penetration of dust and moisture. Even if you have never heard the term before, you have most certainly thought about ingress protection at some time. Have you ever spilled water on your phone, tablet, or laptop?  That instant panic (and possible profanities) is caused by your lack of trust in the ability of your device to keep out moisture.

Most new cellphones are marketed as waterproof or water-resistant. What do those terms mean? Are they marketing buzzwords, or are they meant to be taken at face value? This video by CNBC does a good job explaining them. I have personally taken the term waterproof too literally myself. On my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday, we took her swimming and I wanted to document as much as I could with my “waterproof” phone. We had a great time, but the documentation did not go as planned. In fact, I learned a new notification that day. A water droplet icon meant that moisture had made its way into my phone, and it was no longer functioning properly.

How did these standards come to be? In 1976, the International Electrotechnical Commission, or IEC, published IEC 60529, with the goal of standardizing the requirements regarding protection by enclosures. Prior to that time, there were separate standards for motors and low-voltage switchgear and controlgear.

The IP rating consists of two digits:

  1. The first rates protection against solid objects and works on a scale of 0-6.
  2. The second rates protection against liquids and works on a scale of 0-9.

The guide below lists details of what level of protection each number represents.

IP ratings chart

Outdoor displays should have a rating of no less than IP55, to be reasonably safe from both dust and water. Using the above guide tells us that the first numeral of 5 means that the enclosure is considered “dust-protected”. Since we are fully in pollen season in much of the country, strong protection against solid foreign objects is necessary. A first numeral rating of 4 would not supply the necessary protection against pollen grains as they are smaller than the 1.0mm size listed in the description. The second numeral of 5 means that the device is “protected against water jets”.  Who is going to be blasting an outdoor display with water jets?  Well, a landscaping sprinkler system or someone using a hose are both water jets you would want to be safe from.

Samsung Terrace Outdoor qn65lst7tafOutdoor installations have progressed from your run-of-the-mill bank clocks with time and temperature to complex direct view LED displays that are truly immersive.  Keeping the viewer immersed, and not the hardware, is a key to the success and longevity of any outdoor AV project.  When your electronics are exposed to the elements, you will always have some degree of risk involved.  Using the IP ratings, along with the manufacturer’s suggested usage and accessories, will allow you to minimize risk for your projects and customers.  Be certain to read the warranty as well to ensure you are not doing anything that might void or shorten your warranty period.

Samsung Terrace Outdoor SoundbarOutdoor displays can range from a standard TV in an enclosure designed to be outdoors, all the way up to massive dvLEDs that you might see in Las Vegas or Times Square. Whatever your needs, Exertis Almo can provide solutions that run the gamut, including multiple dvLED vendors. The Samsung Terrace Series (consumer) provides options for outdoor displays, a soundbar offering, as well as accessories that can help protect and prolong the life of the hardware.  These have become quite popular in commercial settings such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and even corporate patio areas. 

Visit ExertisAlmo.com today to learn more about our outdoor displays and other products.

Did you find this post helpful? Join the conversation over on LinkedIn.

Gerry Aubrey

About the Author

Gerry Aubrey | DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Samsung CE

Bringing Harman-ies Outdoors

As I began putting thoughts down and mapping out my latest piece, it seemed quite obvious and fitting what I should be writing about.  It is the week after Easter, my kids are home from school on spring break, and it just so happens to be the nicest weather we have seen in NJ since September, with temps in the upper 80’s!  Oh, how I missed working with my office windows open!  With all of that in mind, I think back to a topic I recently wrote which discussed “Anywhere Audio”, as I had coined it.  In that piece, I discussed the varying types of portable and powered loudspeakers that seemed to blossom coming out of the pandemic as more people and activities were now outdoors.  So, as I sit here mapping out my latest plan, I thought it was important to expand on that.  The topic of outdoor audio is a lot more “wide encompassing” that even I thought and given that, I made the decision to “phone a friend” to discuss the topic even more.  Allow me to introduce you all to Dave Tewksbury, Product and Applications Sales Support at Harman Pro Solutions.  “Tewks”, as he is widely known around the industry, is not only a phenomenal resource and incredible friend to everyone who knows him, but he is also an accomplished singer and longtime audio enthusiast.  Simply put, I learn something new every time we speak!  So, with that, allow me to highlight our recent discussion around Harman and how they approach the Outdoor Audio Category.

To help set the stage for the conversation (pun intended!), Tewks recalled how he first got started in the world of Audio.  I will be the first to admit that I always assumed he was a singer who specifically chose to work at Harman, but his background is far greater than that.  As Tewks fondly recalled, he caught the “JBL Bug” as a young kid in Cincinnati.  His sister, who was a performer at the time, had taken him to their local music shop called Buddy Rogers.  The salesperson there had mentioned that JBL was one of the best they could get so that is where the discussion started.  Given that this was long before the times of powered loudspeakers, they would also need an amplifier to which the salesperson said “if you are using JBL, you MUST use Crown.  Those go hand in hand!”.  That is how it all started.  Since that day/interaction, Tewks has used nothing but JBL/Crown for all his audio needs which predates his employment at Harman.  That would come later down the road after first working at an integrator who also happened to be a major Crown/JBL partner as well as a local rep that turned out to be a rep for Harman.  The draw to these brands, outside of the name recognition, is that Tewks can emphasize these products have never steered him wrong.  As an avid musician, he has never blown a speaker, replace a driver or other components, and as a musician funds can be limited at times, this history of quality is something he will firmly standby.

As we steered the discussion into the outdoor category, Tewks was generous enough to peel back the curtain just enough to highlight Harman’s philosophies on quality and the thought process that goes into creating speakers that not only sound great but can withstand the harshest of elements outdoors.  When I think of what JBL does in the way of outdoor audio, it is quite impressive and expansive.  We could also spend a lot of time discussing the IP ratings of speakers and why they matter.  A speaker’s IP rating is generally 2 numbers that follow IP and each of those 2 numbers means something.  The first number is what they call intrusion protection such as dust, debris etc.  The second number is the moisture protection.  Simply put, on a scale of 1-6, the higher the number the better the protection would be.  So, if a loudspeaker was IP66, theoretically it would be totally protected against dust/debris and protected against strong jets of water such as on a cruise ship deck.

Because of these factors, I broke this category up into segments to help guide us:

JBL control 28-1Category 1: The Hybrid Indoor/Outdoor Speaker. A good example of this would be the Control 28-1.  This is a surface mount speaker with 8” driver and as the name implies, can be used both indoors and outdoors.  When using outdoors, I highly recommend using under a roof/awning and making sure it is not exposed to harsher elements such as salt water or freezing temps.  This speaker comes with an IP44 rating which means it offers average protection against water being splashed or objects like nails, etc that are unable to penetrate the grille.

JBL awc-129 bkCategory 2: All Weather. A good example of this would be the AWC129.  As the name implies AW=All Weather.  Highly weather resistant and perfect for outdoor applications such as sports stadiums or outdoor bars/cabins.  The AWC line comes with an IP56 rating, which means it is protected against small dust particles and strong jets of water and can be used in direct exposure.

eon one compact Category 3: Powered and Portable. This category houses some of JBL’s best selling speakers such as the Eon One Compact, PRX One, Eon 700 series and the brand new PRX900 Series.  While I do not recommend leaving these out in harsh environments or even getting splashed with water, they are regularly used for outdoor events, outdoor dining, fitness classes and more.  They also have optional transport cases and rugged cabinets to help prolong their lifespan.

Category 4: Performance Audio. This group may or may not be as obvious to everyone, but next time you are at an outdoor concert this summer, look on the stage and up in the rafters and you will see what I mean.  Whether it is the ever-popular VTX A Series or the newer SRX900 Series which happens to also be powered, JBL excels in this space.  VTX for example, carries an IP rating of IP55 and come with rugged enclosures with a Duraflex finish to make sure they last and perform well throughout a tour.  The SRX900, as mentioned previously is a newer, powered solution for performance use-cases.  This series comes with a similar IP54 rating, which places it right up in the ranks with the VTX and has a 16-guage perforated steel grille for added durability.  Needless to say, both models were meant for the outdoors!

Category 5: Landscape. One of JBL’s best-selling series is their Control 80 Series of landscape speakers.  These “mushroom” style speakers are green in color, so they help blend in with gardens or other landscapes as needed.  Highly weather resistant that also offer a 360-degree coverage for audio! This series comes with an ip-56 rating, so you know you will be getting long-term use of these.  JBL has recently expanded this category to include in-ground subwoofers and the new ground-stake speakers.  Combined with the Control 80 Series, they have an entire solution for landscape needs which are perfect for residential, hospitality, bar/restaurant and so many more!  Tewks highlighted how he uses 4 of the Control 85’s in his own backyard and says, “you don’t need to have ears on your kneecaps for these to sound good”.  Meaning, they perfected the ability to get highs, mids, and lows up to your listening levels through a down firing speaker.  It’s really incredible!

As we discussed through these, Tewks emphasized how Harman listens to their customers.  A void in this category for many years were speakers that could be used in dessert climates such as Arizona, so with that, Harman rolled out a green and a brown colorway in their ground stakes so more customers could utilize.  Another point of emphasis was how they always strive to be ahead of the trends/needs of their customers.  I referenced the recent surge we saw in outdoor audio needs from 2020 to now, and Tewks reminded me that it takes 4, 5, or even 6 years to fully develop a new product so with that in mind it was clear that Harman placed an emphasis on this category well before the need even was present.

While I could talk about speakers with Tewks for hours on end, I think our discussion painted a good picture of where this idea of “outdoor audio” is headed.  While I chose to mainly emphasize speakers here, let us not forget what else could be needed.  If not using a powered loudspeaker we certainly need amplifiers, mixers, and the obvious microphone to go along with it.  However, I come from the belief that none of those will matter if you don’t have the proper speakers.  You have 4 main components to any audio system as I just highlighted and if one is sub-par or incorrect for the desired use and atmosphere, the whole system will fail.

Next time you are involved in any project requiring outdoor audio, I caution to do your homework and ask the right questions to determine what is needed.  Hopefully you understand IP ratings a little bit more now and can decipher which type of outdoor speaker could be used for a given project.  JBL and Harman is certainly a great place to start!

Enjoy this blog?
Let Rob know over on LinkedIn …and/or connect with #ExertisAlmo on our LinkedIn company page.

Robert Voorhees
About the Author

Rob Voorhees | CTS, CTP, DSCE, CTNS, Dante

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: Business Communications Services, and Harman: AKG, AMX, BSS, Crown, DBX, JBL, Soundcraft, Martin Lighting

Think Outdoors!

When we typically consider pro AV systems design and integration, we immediately think indoors. Truth is, most of us do nearly all our projects inside the confines of buildings, with walls and ceilings. Boardrooms, conference rooms, huddle spaces, and auditoriums are just a few of the things we all do so well… but wouldn’t it be great if we could expand our horizons (and those of our customers)? Well now we can, and it’s time to start thinking outdoors!

There are a ton of available spaces, that today are more important than ever. Let’s say there is a patio or deck area that literally begs for a display. How about along the path beside a building? Outside the entranceway? Considering the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in thanks to COVID, our industry is now tasked with creating new outdoor areas… that not only had not been previously thought of, but now must be. This will be part of our “new normal”. Keep in mind that today outdoor spaces are more universally preferred in many areas around the country due to restrictions, comfort of guests, etc. Lump this under addressing health and safety concerns while delivering an outdoor visual experience that keeps people safe. Think opportunities!

Those of you who design projects will probably think about the obstacles before anything else. There is heat and moisture. There is bright sunlight, reflections on the screen, and the resulting poor image quality. Therefore, you think it just won’t work and can’t give the end results you get inside. Worry not because Samsung and their new Terrace Pro TV comes to the rescue.

This is one of those cases where we examine the Terrace Pro TV and see how the features really do become tangible benefits. Nothing matters if the display will not withstand the environment. Rain or shine, you can enjoy year-round outdoor entertainment with an IP55 rating that assures protection from water and dust. Check the first requirements box.

The next concern should be image quality. If the image is inadequate or inferior, then the dollars spent are wasted. Nobody will even look at the display let alone enjoy it. This issue is addressed via the QLED 4K panel and over 2,000 nits of brightness. For the techies among you the QLED is a Samsung adaptation of Quantum Dot backlight technology but optimized to deliver what Samsung states as 100% Color Volume for a billion shades of brilliant color, without washing out in extreme brightness. By the way contrast is enhanced via direct full array backlighting system providing fine control of the lighting zones behind the screen. HDR10+ adjusts color and contrast scene-by-scene for a dynamic and immersive viewing experience. This ultimately means that Samsung has brought their top-notch home theater display technology into a commercial model, and an outdoor one at that. Will the display be noticed and appreciated? You bet and the adaptive picture capability optimizes picture settings based on surrounding lighting conditions. Check the second requirements box.

It doesn’t stop at IP ratings for outdoor use and stellar picture quality. This is also a Business TV, like Samsung’s previously launched BET-H series. These were intended to offer carefully vetted apps like Youtube, and integrate digital signage through the included Business TV App. It will hold the customer’s hand through choosing a pre-built template, entering their own content, and publishing them for an easy signage experience. Other features are turned into benefits that integrators can provide for their clients. The multi view feature lets them watch TV while displaying signage content from the App.

Remote control and connectivity are not an afterthought. There is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The wireless remote control is even IP56 rated to stands up to water and dust. Thinking about the ease of installation, the Terrace has HD Base-T already built-in, for one cable, clutter free connectivity to external devices. Simply plug in the included cable and you are good to go! Its built-in media bay provides additional support for media sticks and protection from water and dust. Samsung is also offering a (consumer) outdoor soundbar matched to the Terrace and Terrace Pro TV models to provide local audio.

What the Terrace Pro TV allows the user is an indoor viewing experience outdoors without a lot of cost and complexity. This gives the integrator the opportunity to tell clients a new story and one that they have not heard. You can extol the lengthy list of features but punctuate those with tangible benefits. If the objective is a project that visually stands out and becomes an experience, the Terrace Pro TV should be at the top of your considerations. 

dvLED. Oh yes it is affordable.

Image by Absen via Absen Website

Absen’s Senior Director of Sales, Mitch Rosenberg, recently had a podcast interview with MarketScale about the history and future of direct-view LED technology. Mitch paints an exciting picture of where the industry is heading, explaining in detail how we got here.

Full-spectrum direct-view LED initially came out the gates in the late 90’s, with a pixel pitch and cost that made it available only to very large venues where the audience was 50-100 feet away. As the technology has evolved, it’s now becoming the dominant digital display technology with no signs of slowing down.

Direct-view LED was once a very expensive display, requiring special content and engineers to get running. It’s now light-weight, easily configured, easily serviced, and has fine pixel pitches. Mini-LED and micro-LED technology will bring those pixel pitches down to around the same as a laptop monitor, with a durability that fine pixel pitches have never before had. Building on the same robust backbone, direct-view LED displays will continue to thrive where they’ve already been adopted, and will enter new markets previously not appropriate for dvLED.

Image by Absen via Absen Website

Where other technologies have reached their optimization, dvLED will continue to advance into the future. Hear Mitch’s thoughts on the industry, the evolution of direct-view LED, and why anyone wanting a display should only be looking at one solution.

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