The “10-Foot Rule” and Other Viewing Distance Considerations

I was recently asked my opinion on guiding principles for content prepared for close-up viewing versus long distance.  My immediate response was that there was a category missing there.  The Almo Content Design team looks at viewing distance as three different categories, not two.  We design for 3 feet/1 meter for close up viewing screens, such as wayfinders, 10 feet/3 meters on informational screens and greater than that for retail/outdoor.

The “10-Foot Rule” demands legibility and clarity to ensure content at a distance is delivered accurately within the moments it takes for a simple glance.  When my team works on informational screens such as menu boards or employee communication screens this is an important consideration that will drive font and icon sizing, color contrast and animation principles.  We are careful to use timelines instead of cramming the screen with too much at once.  In fact, our mantra is “less is always more when it comes to design on informational screens.”

When you’re working on content for touchscreens, design principles follow mobile app design guidelines.  Consistency within the overall user interface (UI) becomes extremely important.  Every day we all interact with a touch screen UI that breaks consistency rules.  For example, an ATM where the “OK” button changes location from prompt to prompt not only confuses the viewer, it slows the interaction.

For larger screens, especially outdoor, the rule tightens.  The message must be legible, of course, but more importantly it must be concise.  The “5-Second Rule” isn’t really five seconds anymore – it’s less.  Color, contrast and concise messaging become key.

Do you have any “rules” you follow when determining your digital signage designs?  

Leave me a comment and let’s start a conversation.  And stay tuned for more of my expert advice as I come back each month with a brief thought on a single aspect of digital signage.

8K Displays… So What’s the Buzz?

You’ve heard the buzz about 8K display technology. But what is it about these displays that make them ideal for commercial settings?

According to research firm, IHS Markit, as the demand for super-large TV displays grow, the need for higher resolution is set to increase, with 8K displays expected to make up about nine percent of the 60-inch and larger display market by 2020.

So what’s the hype about 8K Ultra HD technology? If you stand close to a Full HD monitor, you can distinguish individual pixels. By comparison, the pixels on an 8K Ultra HD screen are not visible to the naked eye. 8K technology results in images that are so realistic and with such a sense of depth that it feels as if objects aren’t just on the screen but are actually real!

8K technology vividly reproduces every last detail beyond the perception of the human eye. In academic fields, it allows for the enlargement of fine art images, artifacts or architectural structures. In other words, viewers are able to see details that would normally be invisible.

Here are the top three benefits of 8K Ultra HD Technology in commercial environments:

  • Higher resolution. The 33 million pixels packed into the 7,680 x 4,320-resolution panel result in screen resolution that is 16 times higher than full HD. This allows you to actually feel the presence of stunningly realistic on-screen images.
  • Images come to life in vivid color. The color-processing technologies support a wide range of color expression along with faithful color mapping on the display. The rich color palette of an 8K monitor adds depth to the content and brings the entire screen to life.
  • Superb image quality via 8K upscaling. Using on-board processing technology allows both 4K Ultra HD and Full HD content to be upscaled to 8K resolution. This means slideshows, videos, images and text can now be rendered with a new level of detail and realism.

Professional AV uses for 8K displays are broad, however, here are some of the most ideal applications:

  • Government: Homeland security and other surveillance videos can be viewed in much greater detail due to the amount of color and pixels in an 8K image.
  • Retail: The amount of detail that can be shown on a particular item – be it the finest details of a diamond ring or the threading on that beautiful sweater – makes it easier for the consumer to get a clear view of their potential purchase. It also allows the retailer to promote the quality of a particular item.
  • Broadcast: Because 8K has such a high resolution, a football game or other sporting event can be shot with a wide-angle view in 8K, then the broadcaster can zoom into quadrants with each one in 4K.
  • Healthcare: Medical diagnostic imaging and endoscopic surgical procedures, for example, can now be viewed more clearly and in greater detail, which helps advance medical care and improve patient outcome.

The newest 8K display to hit the market is the Sharp 8K Ultra HD 70-inch LCD monitor, the 8M-B70AU, which is NOW AVAILABLE through Almo Professional A/V! Ask your Almo rep about a $200 reseller spiff on this display and visit for more information on Sharp solutions.

Connected Pop-Up Retail Initiative Targets Smarter Customer Experience

Evidence of the disruptive power of pop-up retail is rapidly emerging. Take for instance, the recent announcement by WPP agencies Barrows and VML, who have teamed up with Samsung, to develop what is being described as the next generation of Connected Pop-Up stores.

The Connected Pop-Up initiative aims to simultaneously re-invigorate retail while leveraging a shopping trend consumers have shown themselves ready to embrace. The concept give brands and retailers a way to quickly and affordably activate short-term, temporary retail through a turn-key solution that incorporates digital to deliver personalized brand experiences informed by retail IoT sensing technologies and analytics.

“This is all about the intersection of physical and digital retail,” said Jon Bird, executive director, Global Retail and Shopper Marketing at VML. “That’s where retail is going, and our ability to bring our digital expertise to clients in the retail space excites us. This is a re-invention of how technology can work in a temporary space and our role has been to contribute thinking on the Connected Pop-Up consumer experience.”

Addressing Retail Disruption Head-on

Pop-up retail already is proving a disruptive force, with short-term, spontaneous retail events driving a $50 billion industry in the U.S., according to industry database PopUp Republic.

It comes at a tumultuous time in retail, with long-established brands recently closing hundreds of brick-and-mortar outlets.

At a time when consumers are scurrying from traditional retail while embracing alternative shopping experiences, Connected Pop-Up brings a technological solution to address the disruption. It offers a remedy through connectivity, with ideation, location scouting, logistics, staffing, point-of-sale (POS) fulfillment, real-time customer engagement and content creation all interwoven and interconnected.

An Internet of Things (IoT) dashboard pulls it all together, providing store data, retail analytics and insight into store activity, including visitor demographics and even sentiment, through advanced audience measurement technologies.

While a number of factors are driving the consumer exodus from retail, it’s clear that certain changes could be made in a pop-up context that would address shoppers’ most prevalent concerns. Ultimately, Connected Pop-Ups could help to bring:

  1. Intelligence by generating new IoT retail analytics and insights, targeted smart signage, POS transactions, and virtual and augmented reality.
  2. Affordability through disrupting the status quo with a tiered rental model and multiple levels that differ on size of footprint, technology inclusions and extent of the activation.
  3. On-demand capacity with a modular construction that can be assembled in a variety of ways to suit an individual brand’s requirements.

In the midst of the present retail upheaval underway, a new, tech-driven approach to the sector addresses the increasing intersection of physical and digital retail. Even as brick-and-mortar stores struggle, the sector is moving steadily in the direction of more digitally driven solutions to address the enigma of customer interaction.

The Connected Pop-Up initiative addresses this trend head on, with a tech-driven alternative that is at once smarter and more cost-effective.

Technology is helping retailers change how consumers interact with businesses on a daily basis. Get a deeper look at innovations influencing this change.

The Great Outdoors (Part II): Selecting the Perfect Outdoor Digital Signage Solution

While we know it can be challenging to pin down application details in the early stages of a project, gathering as much info as you can early on can help save thousands of dollars from the get-go and can even save you from headaches later where you might need to modify your proposal to reflect the correct product and adjusted labor.  In Part I of The Great Outdoors,  we highlighted 5 questions to help our reseller partners uncover specific needs for getting outdoor digital signage right the first time.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the unique features Samsung has engineered as part of their totally new 2016 outdoor lineup and see if we can put the answers to those questions to work for you!

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For example, knowing who the audience is and where the unit(s) will be located may clue you in on the need for durability features.  Let’s say you’re working on an application for a movie theater, college campus or theme park, you may want to suggest a model with Magic Protection Glass which can withstand whacking from a hammer or even a baseball bat to protect the investment your clients are making in digital signage against rowdy patrons or students.  Three of the five new series include Magic Protection Glass: OHF, OHD & OHE Series. (See chart at bottom).  Another feature is Polarized Sunglass Support which ensures a perfect picture regardless of the viewer’s lenses and eliminates the blinding glare on most flat panels.

IP56 Certification is another important feature that can be essential to the longevity of an outdoor unit if directly placed in the elements. As defined in international standard IEC 60529, it classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. The standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as waterproof.  Samsung has IP56 certification on the OHF, OHD and OHE Series outdoor units. (See chart at bottom.)

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Depending on the application, some locations may require round-the-clock operation.  With Samsung, select outdoor units are rated for  24/7 usage meaning they are engineered to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 5 years to half brightness.  This means the display will run a full 5 years without any noticeable degradation in brightness; if used only 24 hours a day 5 days a week, this life span would be extended beyond 5 years, minimizing total cost of ownership.  Don’t forget Samsung’s 3-Year On-site manufacturer’s warranty on all professional displays, plus New optional, Protection Plus extended and expedited service options to help you meet the requirements for overnight replacements for more critical installations where down-time is simply NOT an option. Ask your Almo rep for more details.

Speaking of brightness, did you know Samsung’s new 24” compact display, the OM24E can not only take direct sunlight without blacking out the panel like many outdoor units, but it has also been engineered and tested to withstand temperatures of 110 degrees!  Plus, the display can now automatically optimize brightness control and increase energy efficiency using the new Auto-Brightness Sensor.  This allows the display to automatically reduce brightness to 200 nits or up to 1,500 nits depending on the ambient light which maximizes effectiveness of digital signage in any lighting conditions.  In addition, the OM24E also allows users to manage digital signage content wirelessly with built-in Wi-Fi and mobile app support.06.20 pic04

Although most applications are a great fit for complete products that are ready-to-hang right out of the box, we realize there are plenty of unique applications where digital signage displays are incorporated into an overall design theme or as part of another structure – Samsung hasn’t left you hanging in this regard.  In the OMD Series, Samsung offers two versions to accommodate needs for a fully-enclosed, ‘complete product’ (OMD-W) as well as a KIT version (OMD-K) which can be installed into a more customized enclosure.  Both versions can stand up to direct sunlight in a store-front window or out in the elements in a weatherized enclosure (provided by others); both versions now available in 46”, 55” and 75” sizes for maximum design flexibility.

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Let us know how we can personally help you on your next outdoor digital signage project and we’ll help confirm the right solution for your specific application.

Here’s a snapshot of the key specs on Samsung’s 2016 Outdoor Lineup: (see for full details)

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And don’t forget to register for this Friday’s Webinar on Samsung’s High-Bright, Outdoor and Weatherized Displays!

The Great Outdoors: High Bright, Outdoor & Weatherized Displays Defined on Jun 29, 2016 2:00 PM EDT at:
Drive-thru restaurants, theme parks, stadiums, retail window displays – these are all places where specialized displays are a necessity due to the outdoor elements, lighting and more. In this session, learn the differences between these types of displays, when to use them and in what applications. Through an examination of real-world case studies, you’ll explore the essentials for installing these specialty displays and important considerations BEFORE you start to specify a project.
Presented by Jonathan Brawn, Brawn Consulting on behalf of Samsung.

Large Format Displays as Window Signage – Is There a Difference?

NEC LCD High Brightness Displays

A couple of months ago, I spoke with one of our Arizona integrators about a window digital signage project for a large retail jewelry store. As we discussed the project, I asked for specifics as to display size dimensions and quickly moved to content, media player, and signal distribution scheme.  The spec seemed relatively straightforward and a bill of materials would be easy to create.

But as I reviewed drawings and artist renderings, I quickly asked myself:

  • What direction do the windows face? Southwest exposure?
  • Coverings shading the windows?
  • Portrait or landscape orientation?
  • City ordinances on night time brightness?

The answers to the above questions quickly convinced me that I was actually dealing with a high ambient light specification than that of a typical within-the-building digital signage project. Additionally, this window project calls for commercial grade, 24/7 displays (for use well into the night after closing hours) that must have the following design attributes:

  • Higher brightness rating than that of a typical indoor display to ensure crystal clear visibility during the daytime
  • Resistant to the effects of high temperatures and direct sunlight that cause an isotropic blackening effect on liquid crystal
  • Advanced heat management to provide proper cooling given high temperatures and extensive operational hours
  • Polarizing film on the displays so as to be seen by polarized sunglasses in either portrait or landscape orientation
  • Ambient light sensors to dim displays in low sunlight or nighttime


So, as you can easily surmise, we’re now talking about specially designed displays for this project. NEC, for example, manufactures 47”, 55”, and 75” high brightness displays designed for front-facing window display applications.  The XHB Series of displays addresses the above needs with:

  • High brightness (2000-2700 nits) for high ambient light conditions
  • High resistance to isotropic effects from direct sunlight
  • Quarter Lambda Polarizing film so content can be easily seen regardless of orientation or polarized sunglasses
  • Internal heat management and self-diagnostics to insure reliable 24/7 operation
  • Ambient light sensors to dim the panel for lower light and nighttime conditions


Bottom line—front-facing window signage demands are different from indoor or outdoor models. Be sure to know the application when an end user mentions windows in a digital signage application.  Yes, these panels are an investment, but if you can’t see the displays, why have the signage?

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