Due to the worldwide digital transformation, the amount of data and content being produced and used grows exponentially. This growth drives the need for large-scale visualization. While in the early years, large indoor video walls were mainly used in control rooms to monitor and manage critical infrastructures and security operations, the technology advancements and cost evolutions have expanded the usage into a wider range of applications. Nowadays video walls are deployed to control, present, collaborate, inform and impress, in a multitude of applications such as control rooms, enterprise lobbies, meeting rooms, experience centers, television studios, retail and public venues. Looking ahead, Barco’s Director of Product Management Gerrit Vermeire explains the key trends in the fast-evolving video wall market.
Conversations with customers have changed in recent years. In the past, discussions focussed on technical specifications, like resolution and brightness levels. This focus has shifted towards dialogues about business objectives and which solutions can help to achieve them. With several visualization technologies (LCD, LED, projection) being available, the outcome conversation allows to better pinpoint the exact requirements, to recommend and select the solution best serving the customer needs. The full solution discussions also involve for example the right controllers, connectivity, installation and maintenance plans and accompanying service contracts. On top of the viewing experience meeting the expectations, predictable and worry-free installation, operation and servicing are the key ingredients to secure the targeted return on investment.
While in the past video wall applications were very specific and content shown was quite static, today video walls are multi-functional and multi-purpose with dynamic content. Visualization in lobbies for instance, is used for branding, welcoming visitors, sharing company information and informing employees. Critical operation centers now have situation-dependent missions and require a large variety of content sources. The emergence of AV-over-IP is also driving versatile video walls, enabling any source to be activated at any time and in any place. Easy, fast and even automated perspective layouting and versatile far/close-by viewing capabilities are becoming instrumental.
Looking at market needs for indoor video walls (whether they are rear projection, LCD or LED), we have seen a shift in requirements from resolution, pixel-to-pixel pitches, brightness levels towards predictable, reliable and worry-free installation, operation and maintenance. Today’s video wall solutions achieve improvements in both the overall viewing experience and the ROI expectations.
In this context, Barco introduced the revolutionary Barco UniSee LCD video wall solution in 2017 which features a patented mechanical mounting system and configuration manager bringing a state-of-the-art viewing experience in combination with easy deployment, precise installation and predictable, easy maintenance.
Also, Barco’s LED XT(-E) series is offered with an extended service contract which ensures long term image quality and wall uniformity without the customer having to worry about LED batch compatibility.
For all video walls and accompanying controllers, Barco is also rolling out a cloud connectivity platform and accompanying subscription options offering remote management and monitoring capabilities as these are no longer limited to the typical signage applications for advertising but bring major added value for all applications.
Advancements in technology and continuous proliferation of manufacturers is supporting and driving the increasing indoor large visualization demand. Depending on the respective technology – being (front and rear) projection, LCD and LED video walls – the focus for further evolutions can be different. Single unit front projection technology concentrates on the resolution race standardizing on 4K, increased color performance, laser illumination evolutions, installation flexibility and strict controlled TCO. Rear projection video walls are the choice for reliable, long term serviceable and upgradeable solutions almost exclusively in the control room market. The technology is mature, showing incremental evolutions supporting the above values.
More than 65% of the indoor video wall deployments today use LCD technology, which is the affordable solution deployed in high volumes and in as good as all applications. Ongoing LCD investments further optimize the viewing experience by reducing the seam impact and improve wall uniformity (while limiting the impact on cost) and further ease deployment, installation and maintenance.
The highest growth for video walls exists for LED technology being the only solution for a truly seamless video wall, with significant technology investments ongoing to further lower the cost, improve installation complexity/robustness, step-up long term serviceability and further optimize image quality. Looking forward mainly LED and LCD will be driving the increased adoption of indoor video walls.