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Opinion: left out in the cold

Digital signage not specialised for a wide thermal range is at high risk in low temperatures, explains Jeff Hastings, CEO at BrightSign

Think of all the places you encounter outdoor signage these days – bus shelters, drive-through windows and freestanding smart city kiosks, just to name a few. There are even a number of DOOH platforms pushing content to car-mounted displays. All of these use cases have varying degrees of environmental protection, but it’s likely that most of the hardware in these scenarios is exposed to cold temperatures, especially during the winter months. It’s a big mistake to install a player that is specified for the protected indoor environment for these installations. 

Environmental conditions have always been important considerations for installers when deploying digital signage. Any component that draws power generates heat, and unless those components are intentionally cooled via increased ventilation or some other means, temperatures climb to the point of jeopardising operational integrity. Media players are particularly exposed to increased temperatures because their compact size often leads to them being installed in cramped, poorly ventilated spaces. For this reason, media players are designed to operate in high-temperature settings, often in the presence of increased humidity. 

Generally speaking, heat and humidity are known risk factors, and most professional-grade AV hardware sold today is designed to perform well even when exposed to hot, humid conditions. Our players have low power consumption and are designed to efficiently dissipate heat and operate reliably at temperatures up to 70ºC. This contributes to our exceptionally low failure rate: currently 0.15%, giving us 99.85% reliability. Most of those failures occur very early on – it’s rare for a player to fail once it’s been running a while. One of our European installers has put nearly 10,000 players into a major retailer over a ten-year period. Those players are subject to a maintenance agreement, and the reseller hasn’t been called out even once since the players were installed.

The AV industry as a whole concerns itself more with high-temperature performance than withstanding the cold”

From one extreme…
On the other end of the environmental spectrum, however, is the cold. As a general rule, the AV industry as a whole concerns itself more with high-temperature performance than withstanding the cold. And this is a problem. It’s problematic because a growing number of digital signage installations are outside, protected from the ice and snow but not the cold. This is why we believe there’s a growing demand for hardware that withstands not only the heat, but also the cold. 

Now BrightSign has certified its players for use in temperatures as low as -20ºC. This recent certification for low-temperature use establishes a 90ºC extended thermal operational range for our players. Safeguarding against the elements by specifying hardware that can withstand both the heat and the cold is an essential step for installers to ensure reliable performance in any temperature extreme – and eliminate an important cause of costly and time-consuming call-outs.