Thursday, September 11, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Innovation and Progress, or Complacency and Stagnation in LED Sign Technology

- Scott Hofheins

With the highly anticipated Apple Live event on Tuesday still causing excitement and buzz across the country, it reminds us that innovation continues to be a key component for a successful product. While there are some in the LED sign industry who believe things are best left the way they are, history has proven that true progress in any industry relies heavily innovation and organizations not afraid to take risks.

It is well understood that the sign industry is different than the consumer electronics industry. Manufacturing outdoor electronics that need to operate consistently for 5-10 years means that innovative development takes more time. However, true innovation is still extremely important and necessary for the health of the industry and the end user experience as a whole.


The options now available for outdoor digital signage has, thankfully, progressed and evolved since the days of flip discs, incandescent marquees and simple LED marquees. While there is still a very secure place for single color text only message centers, I believe I speak for many by expressing my gratitude that full color technology and higher resolutions were developed. Content is more dynamic, and pleasant to read. Sign operators can be more creative and deliver their message more effectively to their targeted viewers.

This evolution did not come from an attitude of complacency; it came from people taking the risk of developing new technology to answer the market’s demand for a better and affordable product. Some failed, some succeeded, and the industry is better off because of their efforts. Outdoor digital signage is still young. We will continue to see more innovation, more features, a better experience and a better product for years to come.

The way we interact with our displays has also evolved for the better. We are beginning to see more progress and a significant evolution toward better software, and a better end user experience. You would be hard pressed to find any sign owner who would choose outdated software designed overseas, over a quality domestic provider when truly given the opportunity. And this is one of the challenges with our industry. Too many end users do not get that opportunity. They are accepting sub-par software, or a sub par product because it’s simply what they got with the sign.

This is changing, and will continue to improve as our society gets closer and closer through improved communication and education. We are a world getting larger, while our social circle get’s tighter, giving us better tools and access to important information about any industry, business, manufacturer or organization.


End users in our industry now realize that they have a choice, they can be an educated Digital Signage consumer. They understand the difference between innovative products that offer an array of useful features and options, versus products that offer less simply because they can’t do any better. 

Innovation is hard, and is not without it’s challenges. Even hugely successful organizations like Google have their fair share of flops and failures. Remember Google Lively? No? Exactly. But that is the beauty of true innovators, is they don’t give up. They fix, re-invent, take a different approach, or start from scratch. Change isn’t always popular, but is critical to the progress of technology, and I would argue to the human experience in general.

Without innovation we would still be waiting days, weeks or months for important letters, seeing our recorded history in black and white, and agreeing that the idea of a individuals owning and using personal computers is ludicrous. While there are products and software out that may be gimmicky, over hyped, or bad copies of the original, you have the tools now to weed through it all and get what you want and deserve.

Stay smart, and deal with true innovators who offer products designed, produced, and supported in the US.  


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

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