Going 3D: A Quiet Revolution for Building Signage

Building signage is undergoing a quiet revolution. Digital signage, typically plasma or LCD displays, is almost imperceptibly replacing static signage. Unlike conventional signs, more advanced alternatives offer a dynamic form of communication that can be used in a variety of ways across building types to inform, advertise, entertain or otherwise enhance a resident’s or tenant’s building experience.

Digital signage has important life-safety uses, as well, supplementing fire alarms or other automated life safety systems. For example, it is now possible to place a digital sign adjacent to a standard EXIT sign. In case of a fire, for instance, the new breed of digital sign can—using information provided by wireless sensors—display a warning that the stairwell is full of smoke and alternative egress is safer.

Another digital option for commercial properties—especially retail—is 3D signs. The technology, formally known as autostereoscopy, is a method of displaying stereo images without the use of special headgear or glasses by the viewer. “Why buy a 2D display when you can buy a 3D display that can also play 2D content?” asked Exceptional 3D CEO Michael Egan, whose company makes the systems.

Currently, there are about 600 glasses-free Exceptional 3D signs at commercial properties in the United States, and the company recently inked a deal to expand into Europe. Convenience stores have shown strong interest, according to Egan, especially if they can be persuaded that customers will pay attention to the signs, but he also says there are markets for the technology at hospitality properties, entertainment venues, standard retailers, quick-service restaurants, and even banks and healthcare facilities.

“Systematized Approach” in the October 2013 issue of CPE discussed additional achievements in building system integration.