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Grabbing Your Attention With Size, Clarity

Unusual video displays are piquing and grabbing viewers’ attention with unique size and clarity options.

The San Antonio International Airport has two AVAs that explain procedures and answer questions.

Video displays grab people’s attention; there’s no doubt about it. But with the increasing usage of video displays in all sorts of venues, a degree of view fatigue has crept into the public, lessening their tendency to watch every monitor that they see.

This is where unique video displays can make the difference. By confronting viewers with something other than a typical HDTV monitor, these displays pique curiosity and hold it so that the desired messages can be delivered and received. Here are three examples of how this is being done today.


Getting people’s attention in airports is a real challenge. They are usually so caught up with their own thoughts, or racing for a plane, or staring at their smartphones, that they are not likely to watch helpful information on overhead monitors. Even when travellers are standing in line waiting to pass through security, chances are that they aren’t paying attention to what’s around them … unless it is unusual.

Management at Texas’ San Antonio International Airport (SAIA) in Texas have grasped this reality, and decided to do something about it. This is why passengers waiting in two security areas are startled out of their stupor by what appears to be holographic SAIA employees who provide them with helpful hints.

“Once screened, please be sure that you’ve collected all your items before leaving the checkpoint,” says the paper-thin SAIA employee known as ‘AVA.’ “Thank you for chosing San Antonio International Airport.”

AVA is an acronym for “Advanced Virtual Assistant,” and that is exactly what AVA is. But she isn’t a hologram; instead, AVA is actually a rear-projected image video shown on a vertical screen. Since the screen is cut out in the shape of the person being displayed — at their real height — visitors don’t notice the screen. It helps that the actress playing AVA keeps her body position immobile; except for moving her head when she talks and occasionally clasping and unclasping her hands.

Fairfax County Emergency Operations Center in Fairfax, Va. (photo by Anita Klimko)

AVA is the invention of Airus Media. “Our goal was to create an attention-grabbing informational display,” said L. Patrick Bienvenu, Airus Media COO. “People don’t notice monitors as much as our clients need them to. That’s why we came up with AVA: She is a unique, completing video display that people can’t help but pay attention to.”

An AVA can be created for any kind of client and any kind of message, as long as the person speaking stays relatively immobile. The spokesperson is shot against a black screen. The video is then projected against a thin, rigid reflective vertical screen and calibrated so that the image’s size matches the actual height of the spokesperson in real life.

Next, the AVA’s image is traced on the screen, and cut out in the spokeperson’s shape. It is then mounted on a floor-based frame, with a Casio rear projector and video player hidden in a decorative pylon a few feet behind it.

“We locate the unit to prevent people from walking between the screen and the projector,” said Bienvenu. “Typically, they don’t even know the projector is there.”

San Antonio International Airport has had great success with its two AVAs since they were installed in November 2014.

“People are startled to see what appears to be a life-sized hologram giving them instructions,” said SAIA Aviation Director Frank Miller. “They can’t help but pay attention to AVA, since they are caught up in trying to figure out how she works.”

It helps that AVA has a motion detector. She will stand there quietly smiling, not saying a word until someone gets close. The detector then senses the person and she starts talking. AVA can connect to a nearby touchscreen: Users can select questions on the screen, and then AVA will answer them in spoken words.

Besides providing SAIA customers with eye-catching attractions — “people often bring their friends over to see AVA, and take selfies with her,” said Miller — these talking signs have helped traffic flows.

“We have definitely seen the lines move faster in the security areas where the AVAs are,” Miller said. “Not only does AVA catch people’s attention, but they listen to her as well.”

Planar UltraRes 4K displays are available with a touchscreen option.


It’s clear that 4K, also known as UHD, is on the way. Displays with UHD resolution are increasingly common and getting more affordable daily, which means that more of them will be pressed into service for digital signage and operations center use.

The Planar UltraRes series is a line of 84-inch and 98-inch UHD resolution (3,840 x 2,160-pixel) professional LCD displays that have four times the resolution of standard HD displays. Such displays can show native 4K material (which is increasingly available from cameras and computers) as well as allowing the screen to be split into four HD quadrants.

These large Planar displays support native 4K resolution at up to 60 Hz, enabling smooth motion video and mouse tracking. True 4K at 60Hz can be driven via single-cable HDMI 2.0 or with dual- or quad-cable DisplayPort. With four HDMI and four DisplayPort inputs, it is possible to support up to six simultaneous 4K sources on Planar UltraRes series displays.

There are a wide variety of display styles that can be used for signage and operations center video walls. Some of these are intended for standalone operation — just a single monitor on a wall with an informational display — and others are engineered to integrate into large display walls.

For example, the Panasonic TH-55LFV50U is an ultra-narrow bezel high-brightness LED display designed for large digital signage and command center video walls where multiple displays are used. With a bezel width of less than 3mm, TH-55LFV50U displays can be combined to create near-seamless large video wall displays. The TH-55LFV50U also has a direct LED backlight and IPS LCD panel for wide viewing angles.

Travel often puts people in unusual surroundings, where they need help finding their way. Some large displays are touch-capable and allow an interactive experience. These can be maps, schedules and even emergency information. (For example, where is the nearest emergency exit?)

The Samsung QM85D-BR 85-inch UHD display provides a 4K image with high pixel density. The unit can upscale HD content in for simulated 4K and it includes a pre-assembled touch overlay for interactive operations. Targeted at videoconferencing and operations center applications, the QM85D-BR’s picture-by-picture function can display up to four content feeds at once, each supporting 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution.

There are plenty of applications for outdoor displays, and several manufacturers build them. One example is the LG BV72PSF BoldVu 72-inch free-standing display, which can be mounted either vertically or horizontally. The BV72PSF features a constant 2,500 nit brightness over its 10-year usable life in an outdoor environment. The unit has a fully enclosed chassis with IP54 design, and vandal-resistant cover glass. Its closed-loop cooling system does not require ventilation.

Samsung QM85D-BR touchscreen display


Fairfax County, Va., is right next door to Washington, DC. As a result, the county is home to many important federal government buildings, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Counterterrorism Center.

Add the fact that 1,120,785 people call Fairfax County home — among them many Washington movers-and-shakers — and one can understand why the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management has a very spacious and sophisticated Emergency Operations Center (EOC). It is housed within the 114,000-square-foot McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC) in Fairfax, along with the Fairfax County Department of Public Safety Communications (police/fire 911 call/dispatch center), the Virginia Department of State Police Division Seven communications center and the Virginia Department of Transportation’s operations center.

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The video showpiece of the Fairfax County EOC is its massive front-mounted video wall. Comprised of 10 Barco 80-inch rear projection video cubes in a 2 x 5 arrangement, the wall provides the EOC’s many staff members with a big screen view of what is happening. The big screen is supplemented by eight Sharp 60-inch displays on the room’s four walls, and the staff’s own desktop video displays.

“The front video wall can show a number of different views at the same time, including video feeds, GIS mapping, PowerPoint and any other images that we want to share with the entire room,” said Sulayman Brown, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management’s Assistant Coordinator/EOC Manager. “Being able to show everyone the same views helps us share information, which aids collaboration. It also helps cement us as a team: Much of the time our people are working at their own tasks at their own monitors, which can isolate them from the rest of the room and narrow their focus. Putting images up on the front video wall literally connects them to the Big Picture; not just what’s on the screen, but what we are doing overall.”

This Big Picture can be particularly important to the EOC during a natural disaster, when numerous incidents are happening at once.

“We can put them all up on the video wall at once, so that everyone can see what everyone else is dealing with, and share resources on a prioritized basis,” Brown said. “This helps us manage the overall situation more effectively.”