In late October of 2017, the iconic lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus were upgraded by to a massive, outward curved display capable of true 4K video production. This was done by Land Securities and Daktronics. During installation, Piccadilly Circus was dark for the longest period since World War II, and the transformation seen today reestablishes Piccadilly on the world stage. The display features 8-millimeter line spacing and covers the existing digital footprint of approximately 58 feet high by 146 feet wide.
Piccadilly Lights is one of the world’s most sought-after advertising sites, and this transformation was meant to take it to the next level.
The technology upgrade is allowing for messages that use the entire digital canvas as well as the classic look with multiple messages on different parts of the display. The increased functionality is a wonderful addition to this space as it curves around the corner of the buildings. The display’s content is managed by Ocean Outdoor UK and features variable zoning to show one large piece of content or multiple sections showing different content simultaneously. The new display provides increased flexibility within Piccadilly that is rejuvenating the visual experience throughout the area.
There were several challenges at Piccadilly Lights with the two largest challenges being the close proximity of the audience to the display and the logistical challenges of installing a 783 square-meter (8,433 square feet) display in one of the busiest intersections with close viewing distances and steep viewing angles. Daktronics installed an 8-millimeter screen, which filled the available space at a 4K resolution (width is slightly larger than 4K). The 8-millimeter is ideal for the close viewing distance to provide a seamless image quality. Daktronics also installed our patented city-view louver, which provides an additional 20 degrees of downward viewing angle to ensure all the prime viewing locations have a clear image without the louvers causing a color shift or dimming of the display at the extreme edges.
Piccadilly Circus is one of the busiest intersections in London, which limited access to a crane for installation. A large scaffold system was erected in front of the display location to provide a safe working environment for both installers and pedestrians below, as the old displays and structure were removed and new elements were installed. Traditionally, the display could have been constructed in as few as 70 sections, but due to site limitations, Piccadilly Lights was constructed in 640 sections that were small enough to be carried down the scaffolding by hand after being winched to the proper level. The sections were stored offsite and brought in twice per week for installation. The logistics had to be precise as each section had to be installed in exactly the right position to ensure mounting locations were correct and that the display properly followed the asymmetrical curve of the building.
Since October 26, 2017, the new state-of-the-art digital canvas at Piccadilly Circus has been interactive and fully responsive, allowing advertisers to include aspects like live video streaming. About 100 million people pass the central London site each year, and the new display marks the largest single display in Europe. Piccadilly Lights is one of the world’s most sought-after advertising sites, and this transformation takes it to the next level. Today, the Lights remain a testament to London’s global reputation for defining invention and innovation.