Ask the Board – May 23, 2016 | JEFF PORTER

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What does the future of eco-friendly digital signage look like in terms of power consumption?


There’s a trend in retail digital signage these days that I call “disposable digital signage.”
It’s not very eco-friendly I’m afraid. I’m sure you’ve noticed those little 7-inch screens on the shelf edge that might even have a “blinking red button” or motion detector to play a pre-canned video. These are not connected screens, but it is a retail digital screen nonetheless.
 
Often times, these small displays are put in for a specific product promotion and are thrown away with the rest of the cardboard in that display when the promotion is over (usually three months or less). The cost to recover those screens, replace the batteries, update the content and send them back out for the next month’s promotion exceeds the cost of the unit itself. So I’m afraid there is a big landfill somewhere with thousands of these little Chinese screens. And I don’t even want to talk about the environmental aspects of the batteries.
 
I’m sure you’ve also seen similar little screens as “digital brochures,” and I’ve even seen screens show up in magazines. Open the cover and a video start playing. Again, these use the same very inexpensive technology, and it’s a throwaway, sad to say.
 
For regular “networked digital signage,” most LCD manufacturers have switched from
CCFT backlights (cold cathode fluorescent tube) to LED backlights, which takes less power. And if the screen is small enough, they might even be powered over Ethernet (PoE).
 
The big win ECO-wise for digital signage is that you’re not killing trees as you’ve been doing for years in printed signage. It’s even worse for outdoor billboards. Switching to LED boards on the side of the highways not only is a higher revenue product for the outdoor industry, but is dramatically reducing the “trashing” of tons of vinyl printed billboards each year that have no good recycling solution. At a recent OAAA show, they used old vinyl billboards to make the tote bags at the show. During Hurricane Katrina, OAAA members donated a large number of old vinyl billboards to act as tarps on people’s homes that were affected by the hurricane. At least some good came out of this before they headed to the landfill.
 
So, to be quite honest, power consumption is the least of our worries when it comes to the eco-friendly decisions that people make today in digital signage. 

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Founder & CEO
Porter Digital Signage

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
Industry Consultants Council

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