A Guide to Rugged Outdoor Displays


The word ‘rugged’ may not be one you usually associate with digital displays. These days, displays are usually sold on other features such as their resolution, sound quality and/or ability to support extra functionality such as content-management features.

This is fine for environments such as offices and shops, but there are some indoor environments that would actually benefit from using rugged displays, and as outdoor displays begin to move into the mainstream, the need for them to be provided with ruggedized bodies will become ever more important. Here are three reasons why:

Bad vibrations

One of the purposes of soft floor coverings, such as carpets and rugs, is to reduce vibration. That’s why people walking on carpets generally make less noise than people walking on hardwood floors.

At this sort of level, vibrations are a minor issue for both humans and computers, but as the number of vibrations increases, anyone or anything in the vicinity literally gets rattled to the point where it is actively dangerous in some cases. This is why human workers use protective clothing, particularly ear protectors, and outdoor displays need similar protection in the form of a rugged body.


The U.K. is quite (in)famous for its rain. Even in summer, the skies can open and drop down a real deluge and the further into the north you go, the truer that is. For most of the year, the U.K. has regular rainfall, even if it’s only what humans would consider mild showers. Rain (and moisture in general) creates two major problems for display technology. The first is that, as everyone knows, water and electricity do not mix, and hence any display intended for use outdoors needs to have its electrical components isolated from any possible contact with water. The second problem is that of corrosion.

Display technology uses a high percentage of metal components, which are, of course, susceptible to rust. Anyone who has metal gates or fencing knows just how important it is to protect them against the elements; otherwise, they soon become degraded or even completely destroyed. The same holds true of the metal components in outdoor displays.


It may seem somewhat ironic that a country with so much rain also has a problem with dust, but it is actually the case. While dust itself is mainly a product of dry conditions, environmental pollutants are a fact of life, particularly urban life, in all kinds of weather conditions and can actually be transported into outdoor displays via raindrops, which is another reason for protecting them against water ingress. Dust (and pollutants) can literally clog up a display to the point where it is unable to function.

products-socialite-slider-2Fundamentally rugged equals well-sealed

In some environments, ruggedness involves giving a device a certain degree of protection against impact, such as being hit or dropped, but this is much less of an issue with outdoor displays in general.

The main defining feature of a rugged outdoor display is essentially that it is totally sealed against external hazards and still performs well. This challenge is already well on its way to being addressed and indications are that, as the technology matures, the prices of outdoor displays will drop to the point when they will really become mainstream.

About Author

Richard Murton is the Managing Director at Display Technology. The company is part of the global FORTEC Data Display Group based in Germany and consists of specialists in TFT, LCD and touchscreen display solutions.

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