Going retro: New airport style split-flap display for businesses looking to stand out

New airport style Smart Split Flap Display from Oat Foundry combines retro analog design with 21st century functionality to help businesses break away from the digital norm
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Oat Foundry, a leading product design and manufacturing agency for commercial businesses, today announced the official availability of its smart Split Flap Display – a retro-designed, nostalgia-inspired message board for retailers, restaurants, hotels, and more, that can be controlled and automated through a unique web-based application.

“The Oat Foundry’s Split Flap plays into the desire to find non-digital and mechanical solutions that can perform the same tasks as digital displays,” Oat Foundry CEO and Co-Founder Mark D. Kuhn IV said today. “We’re helping businesses to better engage with this growing customer base. People are tired of being bathed in the glow of TV’s. The Split Flap Display design runs against the grain of the LED and LCD norm, without sacrificing any of the 21st century functionality that businesses expect to be able to access when controlling their displays. It delivers powerful messages in a meaningful and creative way that is resonating with architects and designers for restaurants, retailers, hotels, and more.”

Each Oat Foundry Split Flap Display is hand-built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and contains an array of individual modules with 50 unique character flaps. Its internal driving motor revolves each flap in a series of rotating animations that significantly advance on the original Split Flap Displays of the early 20th century. “When we build the display in our Philadelphia-based shop, the size, colour, number of modules, fonts, and characters are entirely customised per customer, allowing businesses to truly emphasise their brand,” Oat Foundry Marketing Manager Jeff Nowak said, “but the old-school ‘clacking’ flap sound we all know and love remains the same.”

For message control, the display’s intuitive web-based application makes configuration simple. The display is connected to an interface that allows businesses to send one-time messages, or schedule recurring messages to occur automatically.

For example, a bar manager can configure a happy hour menu to appear on the display starting at 5:00 PM and ending at 7:00 PM, running only Monday-Thursday of the week. “Users can set it and forget it without needing to keep a device powered on,” Nowak said. “This solves a very common pain point experienced with today’s commercial displays.”

What’s more, the display has the ability to pull data from sources in real time through customized API integrations and MQTT Protocol – meaning that in addition to scheduling custom messages, businesses can showcase information from a source in real-time, without their direct involvement.

“The Split Flap Display we installed at Nolita Hall in San Diego pulls real-time data from a Flight Tracker API to show the origin and flight number of planes as they fly over the Italian inspired beer hall,” Nowak continued. “This is just one example of what’s possible. With the integration capabilities of Split Flap, we can bridge the gap that analog once faced.”

Oat Foundry has been the only North America-based manufacturer of Split Flap Displays for the past five years, as they hand build each of their products in their Philadelphia-based shop. Before shipping the display, each order is thoroughly tested by the Oat Foundry engineers. “We don’t just build it and ship it,” Nowak said. “We test each display for 80,000 rotations before sending it off to the client as part of our Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) to make sure that it’s running smoothly, in addition to offering a 1-year warranty to every customer. Plus, the displays are completely modular - so if one component breaks, it’s an easy fix. We have a torture sign in our shop that has been running for over nine million rotations. That’s something like 40 simulated years of use for the average business.”

According to Kuhn, the display directly appeals to guests’ curiosity on many levels, which is enticing to buyers in the hospitality, food service, and retail markets that are increasingly designing spaces to fully engage guests. “We’ve been successful in building custom Split Flap Displays for major players in a variety of commercial markets,” he said.

Over the last five years, Oat Foundry has been leading the transition of Split Flap Displays from transit terminals to luxury hotels, retro restaurants, and grassroots breweries. Current clients include the Chicago Cubs, Starbucks, Herschel Supply Co., Momofuku, Milk Bar, American Airlines, Hilton, Marriott, and many more.

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