What are some operational solutions that have helped your network effectively manage growth and control disparate display types?”
When it comes to digital signage, managing network growth can be a difficult task. Commercial grade displays have come a long way and offer lots of different features, but rarely is there an industry standard that you can rely on to scale your network without worry. We all know 720p and 1080p are broadcast standards, but many displays have native resolutions that are actually a bit different, such as 1360×768 rather than actual 720p. This is just one minor example of disparate display types, but how do you design content to display effectively and beautifully when you might have four different resolution sizes in your network? As a network grows, there will inevitably be display model changes, vendor changes, performance improvements etc. and your content needs to be able to adapt and look amazing on any display you use.
There are different ways to tackle this problem; the most obvious one might be to render your content at the different sizes needed and deploy them to the appropriate screen. This will certainly work, but involves a lot of extra production time, additional people and hardware to render extra versions. In addition, operational employees now have to keep track of multiple versions of content and can only deploy certain content to certain display types.
A better approach might be selecting playback software that scales independently based on native resolution (available on certain signage platforms running on Windows, but there are proprietary solutions as well) and then designing your content at the highest quality and size you can effectively support. That way, the software will scale it down if necessary, maintaining quality, but won’t ever have to scale it up, losing quality. For example, if you think there’s any chance you might want to deploy content at some point that is 4K, I would recommend producing your content in 4K now. If and when the time comes to move up to 4K on the hardware level, your signage software will display your 4K content, but will scale it down on older displays that don’t support such high resolutions. Needing to produce content once instead of multiple times while having to keep track of less inventory by not using multiple versions allows for a much more effective scaling of your network. Whether it’s a controlled growth or an expansion full of surprises, you’ll be in a good position to meet either challenge when your content and software work together to do the work for you.