You can plan the greatest picnic ever, with all the best food and the finest silverware, but a sudden storm can still turn it into a disaster unless you have rented a shelter. The same goes with any type of outdoor digital deployment such as kiosks or digital signage. Unless you weatherproof your digital signage deployment, you will have to pay for more than soggy food at a picnic.
Jeff Hastings, CEO of Brightsign identifies the primary weather related challenges to signage as "UV damage, extreme temperatures and precipitation." Other factors such as dust and humidity can also damage your outdoor display.
Extreme temperatures can lead to isotropic failure with LCD monitors, according to Josh Tanasket, director of hardware at Horizon Display. Sunlight can also be a challenge for outdoor signage, as it can produce glare. If an LCD monitor doesn't have the right polarizer, it might be difficult to view in portrait mode or by an individual wearing polarized sunglasses on a sunny day.
There are a couple of tactics to help protect the quality and components of your signage. Some involve installing better media players, but others are more basic.
"First and foremost, take steps to protect signage from the elements. For example, install displays under awnings or in protective enclosures and out of direct sunlight," Hastings said. "But also consider the more subtle factors, such as which direction rain and snow typically fall in winter."
Tanasket suggests keeping your equipment facing to the north to avoid the elements. He also suggests the use of air condition and lighter paint colors for the enclosure to reduce heat absorption.
You should also make sure to get quality hardware that is built to withstand certain temperatures. If you skimp on the hardware price, you might end up paying more to repair it than the price of a more robust hardware solution.
Tanasket recommends that companies look at the Ingress Protection and National Electric Manufacturers Association ratings for individual parts. The ratings indicate how well an individual electronic product is protected from water, dust and other elements.
"Ensure that all components are rated to perform in even the most extreme conditions," Hastings said. "And while displays are often installed in direct sunlight, the media players themselves are often subject to the highest temperatures because they're commonly tucked away in confined spaces."
There are a few ways to handle this media player issue. One is to integrate a cooling system with a closed-loop air flow," according to Tanasket. Another way is to simply purchase a media player that is built to withstand high temperatures.
If your deployment is interactive — a touchscreen digital signage kiosk, for example — you should also consider protecting your touchscreen from the elements. If users can't see the screen due to glare, or the touchscreen doesn't work, they will not stick around to wait for repairs.
"Many interactive touchscreens are actually comprised of a display mounted underneath a sheet of glass affixed to the touch sensor. In this arrangement, it's possible to mount the exterior glass in such a way that it's weatherproof," Hastings said. "This glass is usually tempered for safety, and can be made thicker to endure the constant use."
Canopies, coverings and anti-glare screens can also help protect the touchscreen from sun damage and keep the customer happy.
Outdoor deployments do present a challenge due to weather, which means that all such deployments need to be carefully planned. A poorly planned outdoor deployment can quickly turn into an expensive repair job.