January is a great time to look to the future and think about the changes in the year ahead. Annual predictions are a common practice in the AV and technology worlds. This year, I wanted to talk specifically about what I see coming in the video wall space, in part because video walls are something I know a lot about and also because video walls have become increasingly popular these past few years. That all makes it a field that’s fun to make predictions about.
For years now, dropping display prices have made video walls more affordable. More recently though, both the network and the cloud have had roles in reducing the cost of video wall controllers, and 2017 for video wall controllers will be all about these two aspects. The price of commercial displays cannot drop forever, but there’s still room for video wall controller costs to drop. Lower price points will prompt more and more companies to take the plunge and invest in rolling out video walls over individual digital signage displays in order to get that higher visual impact.
Speaking of generating impact, traditional grid video walls—either big or small—have become commonplace as display prices have dropped. In 2017, more and more organizations will be looking to develop more creative ways to use their video walls to captivate people. Some of the ways we’ll see them doing this is through artistic video walls, interactive content or multiple video walls that provide an immersive experience.
When it comes to Internet-related business, we all know the very famous—and very true—phrase “Content is king” (usually attributed to Bill Gates). This holds true when it comes to video walls as well, because ultimately, what really engages the audience is the content. In 2017, we will see a rise in immersive video wall experiences. Video wall controllers and new display technologies are being used to create great visual experiences. For example, a curved video wall is far less expensive than building a walk-through aquarium, or a window video wall can be used to “take you anywhere in the world” (see an example of an immersive window video wall here).
Another creative use for video wall technology will be to momentarily synchronize independent displays and showcase a unified, larger image as a powerful tool to grab audience attention. I sometimes call this feature ‘flash mob,’ and it has hundreds of use cases from digital menu boards to sports venues to casinos to food courts.
And speaking of video walls being used as tools, we will definitely see them being used more as sales tools. A large video wall can help frame a product in a better light, in particular specialty items like vacation experiences, home builders, appliances, etc. Mobility features will allow salespeople to control the video wall content from a smartphone or tablet, and peripherals (such as presence detection sensors, etc.) will complement the customer experience and make it more dynamic and personalized.
Also, when it comes to video walls as sales tools, we will see disruptive retailers like Tesla, Apple or Amazon increasing their retail “presence” through video walls. One example is using a mall wall space as a “virtual auto show-room,” bringing the dealership to where the people go shopping.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the network and the cloud will be key for video wall developments in 2017. This will continue to drive solutions away from proprietary hardware and cabling, and into more standard network infrastructure. Cloud management and other advanced features will come to life this year.
This year is going to be an exciting one for video walls. The massive cost drops and the expansion of toolsets that are familiar and comfortable to IT departments mean that many organizations that have dabbled in video walls can now deploy them across all sites with a lower cost, simpler management and a better ROI.