By Ralph Idems
When Vertigo Digital Displays launched in Canada in July 2013, Venture was tasked with building an R & D and product development team, a prototyping and testing team, an NPI facility (New Product Introduction) and a Scalable production facility, all while generating new business and filling customer orders!
Vertigo is in essence a hardware Company; they rely on innovative software developers and companies to create the apps that make our outdoor interactive displays beneficial for users. Many of their products are used for Wayfinding, Hyper Local Marketing, Local Attractions Information (including real time information like weather reports, traffic conditions, train schedules, advertising, security, connectivity) smart City interactive kiosks, and menu boards. More and more of their applications involve Big Data and seamless execution of disparate technologies
The Process From Start to Finish
We were interested in creating a canvas for app developers similar to a mobile phone or tablet but something that could survive outdoors and truly be useful. The first task was to research the market and identify possible markets for the Vertigo IP, which consisted of a portfolio of technology that allowed us to deploy large format LCD displays and electronics outdoors in a wide variety of harsh climate and difficult physical conditions. We identified a few possible markets and then studied the potential client requirements and the main competitor products. The end result was a functional product specification that we could design and test.
We decided to leverage the Vertigo teams’ industry experience in the defence and telecoms world to create a truly global product that was reliable, durable and could handle a multitude of threats – including wide ranging ambient temperatures (-30°C to + 50°C), extreme solar loading, torrential rain, snow and ice, air pollution, Power disruptions and quality, and EMI/RFI – all while developing best in class low power consumption. An outdoor LCD display is really a complex system that includes the obvious things like the LCD, power conditioning, distribution and conversion, heating and cooling, and physical security, but also remote monitoring and control, sensors and relays, media engines, network appliances, firmware, OS and application software, alerting and self-healing intelligence. The product had to be able to thrive not only in the harsh conditions of an urban environment, but also had to withstand corrosive environments, such as hurricanes, fires, bugs, rodents, salt, fog, vandalism. We needed to provide customers with a platform that could inform and alert the public to possible natural disasters and other threats.
Our approach was to first build virtual prototypes for review by all stakeholders followed by physical mock-ups and prototypes for client and functional lab testing. Design Validation included theoretical analysis utilizing tools like CAD, FEA and CFD. We also built specialty test chambers for testing, high temperature, solar loading, and IP testing for dust and water ingress.
Vertigo has deployed many prototypes for real life field-testing in many locations and environments, then used the results for continuous improvement of the design. They have had to consider multiple accessories that may or may not be added after deployment, like touch and gesture control, webcams, RFID, Proof of audience, proof of display, cell phone charging, emergency alerts and broadcasting, Wi-Fi, etc. Through a rigorous design and testing process, the team made some major advancements in a number of technologies including field service architecture, heating and cooling, acoustical noise suppression glass properties, EMI/RFI control, sensors, remote control and monitoring, and network integration.
During the development process the team never lost sight of making sure that they achieved the necessary quality and reliability as well as driving down costs. To reduce initial product cost and future servicing we opted for as much COTS (commercial-off the shelf) components as possible and only custom designed and built those components that we could not purchase. Vertigo was very fortunate to have partnered with a number of top-tier global organizations that have supported their efforts with state of the art technology and samples.
Growing a business is never easy, and at times this process was painful and arduous at times but everyone understood that we needed the right product at the right price in order to amplify their market presence. I am happy to report that this year Vertigo launched two new digital product platforms, the Totem Flexview line of freestanding 72 and 75” high bright display systems and the Pronto 49 and 55 high bright display systems. Both products have proven to be very successful for Vertigo, offering customers the best in-class performance for an affordable price point. New products are being rolled out at a steady pace, in a variety of environments throughout the world. All of us at Venture are very excited to see what is next in store for Vertigo Digital Displays.
Posted January 18, 2015