By Chris Connery
Supplier offers advice on selecting information display systems
As airports continue to enhance IT systems to maintain a competitive edge, this is made possible with renovations to facilities, including upgrades to Multi-Use Flight Information Displays (MUFIDS). Today, airports are exploring the potential MUFIDS have to maximize space, increase customer satisfaction, and generate new revenue opportunities. technology is designed not only to comply with environmental regulations, but also to help airports keep budgets in check.
To ensure the successful implementation and performance of MUFIDS, airports need to address a number of issues, beginning with design and layout, to customer requirements and core business objectives. Before making a significant investment in MUFIDS, airport executives need to consider the different technologies available.
By providing real-time updates of essential information, displays not only disseminate information but also help control the flow of traffic. In order to maximize available space, particularly in high traffic areas, MUFIDS should be integrated into the overall design of the airport and their positioning should be carefully planned to deliver optimal results.
Depending on the size and weight of the displays, airports will have different integration options. MUFIDS with a lightweight and streamlined design provide architects and planners with more airport design options.
LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays), one relatively new option for larger format FIDS, can be readily incorporated into kiosks or inset into walls with minimal concern of product failure due to overheating because of their low power consumption. Keep in mind that regardless of the display technology, proper ventilation is always recommended.
RESEARCH THE TECHNOLOGY
Display technologies have different capabilities and limitations. As flight status information tends to be static, it is important to purchase a MUFID that can display information without suffering from burn-in. Ask about graphical requirements for the type of display technology being considered.
Plasma displays, for example, require continuous refreshing to prevent burn-in, which can result in permanent screen damage. LCD technology, on the other hand, is unaffected by this image retention problem, making it an attractive option when static pictures or text are continuously displayed for long periods of time.
When comparing the different technologies available, evaluate the brightness and contrast ratio of the displays in the context of the environment where they will be used in order to see their real-world performance. Contrast ratio is the proportion of the brightest and darkest areas of an image. Displays with a larger contrast ratio have a greater ability to show subtle color details and tolerate extraneous room light.
The specifications for different display technologies such as LCD, plasma and CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes) are measured differently for contrast and brightness. For example, LCDs measure both factors according to the Video Electronics Standards Association standard, using a full white pattern to calculate brightness and comparing the difference between full screen white and full screen black in a dark room to evaluate contrast.
For plasma displays, the brightness is specified using a peak value rather than a typical value and contrast ratio is calculated as the difference between the small white area and the black area surrounding it as opposed to a full white pattern. Due to these different measurement standards which, based upon uniquely different core technologies, are both valid, such "paper" specifications are not reliable comparisons unless the methodologies for such measurements are fully understood.
Remote management of MUFIDS is another important factor to consider when specifying various technologies for use in different airport environments. While many MUFID technologies allow for some sort of remote control, usually via a RS-232 device, new techniques allow this base level control as well as expanded controls directly though the video cable itself.
Look for displays equipped with software that allows for remote management and maintenance of the monitor controls directly though the video cable, enabling IT administrators to service, upgrade and repair units from a central control room.
New technologies are emerging that allow for such displays to be operated up to 100 meters away from the source without the need of expensive signal boosters. Some examples of how these remote control functions might be useful include setting the displays to remotely go on or off at any given time or automatically setting the displays brightness based upon the time of day.
Look for a high resolution display, with high brightness and contrast ratio, low front screen reflectivity, high reliability, and added features. LCD technology is currently proving one of the best solutions for passenger terminal applications because of its high brightness, low reflectivity, daylight contrast, and long lifespan in comparison with other display technologies.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
As MUFIDS are often in use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, airport operations managers should consider displays that offer a low total cost of ownership rather than just a low capital cost. For example, LCDs consume less power than Cathode Ray Tube ( CRT ) and plasma displays. With lower power consumption and minimal cooling power from air conditioning required, LCDs are up to three times less expensive to power per year than CRTs.
Every display has an estimated lifespan, which can vary depending on the type of technology used, so be sure to consider this when selecting MUFIDS. Knowing how long an airport will utilize a display helps in planning ahead.
Navigating through a busy airport can often be a challenge for the elderly, those with disabilities, or even just the travel weary.
Displays with a high resolution can provide clearer text because of their smaller-sized pixels, allowing for more information to be displayed on the screen. Although the viewable image size of large information displays may be identical, the native resolution can be quite different. Most LCDs between 40-inches and 43-inches have a resolution of 1280 x 768 and comparable plasma displays have a native resolution of between 853 x 480 and 1024 x 768. Higher resolution displays also have greater potential for multi-function capabilities that allow airports to present advertising and information on the same screen.
Installing MUFIDS in non-traditional places can often lead to increased customer satisfaction. For example, placing displays with flight departure information in terminal stores allows customers to shop longer by letting them monitor their time before boarding a flight.
Using MUFIDS in non-traditional ways like broadcasting real-time weather information and live TV or streaming Internet video can also increase customer satisfaction. Shortening a customers' perceived waiting time by making it more productive and entertaining will reduce stress caused by delays and will also serve to keep passengers more informed while traveling. By providing people with something to do they will ultimately be more satisfied with their airport and airline experience.
Equipped with advanced capabilities that incorporate motion, color, and audio, MUFIDS can now be used to create dynamic opportunities for advertising in public concourses, retail shops, and food courts. Airport advertising has experienced explosive growth and attractive displays are critical to the success of an airport advertising program. It is important to select the appropriate size displays with the best colors and features to fit with the needs of the advertiser.
Revenue-generating features of MUFIDS can be incorporated unobtrusively by using split screens, scrolling tickers and picture in picture. Content can be changed instantly, allowing for maximum flexibility in terms of frequency and message modification. This will ultimately result in unprecedented levels of revenue to the airport while subtly improving the appearance of the terminal building.