World's biggest digital signage screen switched on in Saudi Arabia

December 9, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Oh my.

The OOH industry and its ADHD little half-brother DOOH have been slowly turning buildings into media facades using  suspended print banners, transparent vinyl wraps, electronic boards and LED light curtains.

Now a French company is marketing (and installing) technology, that really does turn a building into a media vehicle – with LED lighting actually embedded in the double-glazed windows of office towers.

As spotted in OOH-TV, the King’s Road Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has installed technology from a company called Citiled that turns the north, south and west facades into giant screens. Not sure why the east not done, but assume it has to do with Islam and culture.

Press reports on the project indicate:

21 floors on the north and south façades and 16 floors on the west façade have been equipped with LED screens developed by Citiled, i.e. a total of 9,850 sq m and more than 5 million LEDs, making this structure the largest Media Façade in the world installed on an inhabited building. It took more than 6 months to produce the 10,000 sq metres of this media façade, occupying a team of around twenty engineers and craftsmen for 3 months during the project design phase and then 6 months for installation and testing.

Citiled uses patented technological innovations and was able to develop and implement systems that are almost transparent when mounted on the façades, guaranteeing daylight for the building’s occupants and preserving visibility. This achievement demonstrates how the city will look in the future, a future where buildings will be interactive with controlled energy consumption. Buildings will become theatrical stages bringing together an interactive community around them and the content they display.

Citiled is a four-year-old, 25-person company based in Paris. The LEDs,as noted, are embedded in rows inside the window glass and the cabling embedded in the mullions. The wiring all maps back to a central control room that manages what’s called the Digital Media Facade.

This is interesting on a whole bunch of levels, though I assume it is also insanely expensive (hence it being done in Saudi Arabia, where … well … who cares about cost).

It directly addresses the need to go big with displays. It doesn’t have the same issues with environmental conditions that LED walls and boards face in the wild. It cuts through daylight sun, making it more than a nighttime attraction. It makes all those good digital signage network arguments about instant changes and no ongoing maintenance. And it MIGHT just get around a lot of local laws that restrict the use of OOH and digital signs, since this not technology fixed on to the side of a building. It IS the building.

The video (below) shows a lot of blooming flowers and stuff that looks pretty, but you have to know corporate branding will find its way on to these kinds of facades. The official video doesn’t show it, but other videos do indeed show branding and advertising. Curiously, the videos just show a side wall and the LEDs don’t seem to cover top to bottom. The wider part of the facade, based on some still images I saw, also has the technology. Perhaps it is still being activated.

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