Video walls can be incredibly useful brand marketing tools, wowing customers with larger-than-life experiences that deliver emotional impacts worthy of their size.
But just as hanging a beautiful painting on a wall can bring a room together, adding an interactive element to a video wall can make for a much more inviting brand experience. Doing so fosters a two-way conversation that enhances understanding and communication with customers via an experience they won’t soon forget.
Implementing large video wall displays isn’t all that technically challenging until you add the aspect of interactivity. But achieving effective interactivity means addressing a range of issues, from accommodating the hardware to designing the user experience to choosing the interaction models you’ll use.
4 Steps to a Dynamic Interactive Video Wall
In short, we may live in a world where video technology has become so commonplace that pretty much all of us carry interactive screens right in our pockets, but the scale and physical characteristics of an interactive video wall bring unique challenges to be addressed and optimized.
Here are four key elements to help you identify and meet those challenges as you develop your own interactive video wall:
1. Who Will Use Your Wall - and How?
To determine your wall’s interaction model, start by asking who will be driving the experience and who will just be along for the ride. In other words, is your wall intended primarily for a single user, multiple users or will it be a presenter-led experience?
Remember that at any given moment your wall will have both drivers and passengers — those controlling the wall and those watching it from the surrounding area. Both experiences must be carefully considered.
For example, with a large video wall the driver will have a more limited viewpoint when close enough to touch it, while viewers standing just a few feet back will have a considerably fuller view.
Your design should account for these differing perspectives. The user experience design you select — including the positioning of interactive elements on screen — will also depend on who your driver is: With presenter-led experiences, efficient interactions are a priority so that the presentation is simple to deliver. With experiences meant to be driven by customers, an absolutely intuitive and easy-to-use design is essential.
2. Size Matters - and So Does Shape
A huge screen will certainly draw attention, but one very effective and underused technique is to utilize unusual aspect ratios. There’s a lot of awe to be found in differentiating your video wall from a television.
Viewers will see the gigantic-but-familiar ratio of a 16 to 9 wall and unconsciously perceive it as a really big TV. Present them instead with a wall arranged vertically or one with an extra-wide aspect ratio like 24 to 9 or 32 to 9 and viewers will see an actual wall in front of them. That change in perception can help create an experience that is drastically different from what viewers could obtain at home, even with a home theater.
When choosing your wall’s dimensions, remember the importance of high-quality, high-resolution content, since the images you project will be blown up to a huge scale and viewed from very close. Low-resolution graphics will stand out — but not in the way you want.
Also, make sure your A/V technology can accommodate the high-resolution graphics and the display size you have in mind. The touch technology for large displays must be very specialized, and it is typically custom-built for each wall. When picking a size, make sure your vision for the project isn’t bigger than what you can execute well.
3. Will Your Screen Use Touches or Gestures?
The obvious choice for video wall interactivity is touch, which lets viewers treat your wall like a giant tablet. But gesture-based technologies like Microsoft Kinect and Leap Motion can be strong choices as well.
Each option has advantages and disadvantages and requires thorough homework. Gesture-based solutions solve the issue of needing to be so close to the wall that the user can’t see the whole thing. However, touch is the superior choice when fine interactions are necessary.
4. Create High-Quality Content
The most important driver of your wall’s success will be the quality of your content. We’ve covered the importance of high-resolution content, but it’s important to note that most video content available today is at 1080p resolution. 1080p looks great on a conventionally sized screen, but unfortunately can look pixelated on many large walls.
One useful trick to help in a situation where high-resolution content isn’t available is to use a combination of high-resolution images and motion graphics.
Remember that content doesn’t necessarily have to make full-screen use of the wall but can be run at a size where it looks good. That tip can also be useful in steering clear of the bezels — the thin-but-obvious seam lines where multiple screens have been joined together — when placing important content such as interactive elements.
By properly researching and considering all of these factors, you’ll be able to create interactive video wall experiences that have the right design, right dimensions, right interfaces and right content to make a lasting impression on your customers.
Editor's Note: Learn more about creating immersive customer experiences during Fabio Matsui's session at CMSWire's DX Summit in Chicago, Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Acqua in Chicago.
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