Several key aspects distinguish Philips Professional Display Solutions'(PDS) mighty airport signage displays from your common-variety television. The most obvious is brightness.
"The TV that you would have at home will emit light in the range of 300 - 350 candela," explains Franck Racapé, vice-president for the EMEA region at Philips PDS. "In an airport, we are used to supplying products which are in the 500 or 700 candela range, that are 1.8-2.5 times brighter than a standard screen that the consumer would use."
The reason? Televisions are usually watched a few metres away in a comfy living room; airport signage, meanwhile, usually sees travellers craning their necks towards displays much further away from where they're sitting or standing, with displays either hanging from the ceiling or affixed to faraway walls. This therefore requires that the display competes in brightness with ambient light, and thereby keeps its distance from the passenger. "You are rarely looking at the display that is right in front of you."
Philips PDS's expertise in this area is extensive, and draws on a rich lineage in the wider electronics market. Founded in 1891, in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, Royal Philips as it was then known, began with the manufacture of carbon-filament lightbulbs. The business rapidly grew into a formidable electronics giant, and its display arm, which supplies displays to the hospitality, corporate and healthcare sectors in addition to airport operators, is one of the fastest growing in the EMEA region. "We have a market share that is around 15% as we speak," says Racapé. "We offer a range of products for signage displays, ranging 10-98in, with up to 24/7 usage lengths."
Among airports, Philips PDS's most popular products are its D-Line and P-Line displays. At 55in and placed at head height, these displays emit 450 and 500 candela per square metre respectively, and are available in portrait and landscape mode. Crucially, they are powered by Android operating systems, allowing the installation of remote access software TeamViewer. "The airport environment is extremely regulated," explains Racapé. "It's not like you can send troupes of engineers to intervene when a problem arises with the display."
The company's displays contain an insurance policy against any unwanted interruption in their signal. "Our Fail-Over technology means that if the primary source of information that is coming to the display is failing, there is an automatic switch to a different source," says Racapé. "That way, nobody will ever see that there is actually an issue externally, as they will still see the information being played on the display."
These technical innovations would not be possible without the efforts made by Philips PDS's large research and development team, based at facilities in South East Asia and the Netherlands. "They're in direct contact with the technicians who are installing the displays, getting feedback on what issues they're encountering and implementing solutions accordingly," says Racapé.
Such issues include the problem of remote technical support for displays, solved by the embedding of TeamViewer in all Philips' professional displays. It is an approach that highlights Philip's wider attitude towards innovation along its product line. "We are quite a teachable company," says Racapé.
"We're eager to get feedback from the field and tackle technical issues. That is the only way we will be able to manage and to grow our business," he concludes.