Title: Blog
One board to rule them all? The hardware of tiling epaper displays
In tiling eink displays into bigger screens the mechanical aspect of how the displays fit together, paying attention to overlapping edges and borders, is not the only question to consider. Also important is the decision on how the hardware is to run the new jumbo sign.


One board to rule them all? The hardware of tiling epaper displays
19 July 2015
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We already spoke about how combining electronic paper displays into large-format screens is not unlike a jigsaw puzzle: you have to pay attention on how the individual parts fit together in order to create an XXL sign.

Another important decision in how eink screens are to be combined together is the question of what the purpose of the finished sign will be, influencing the sign’s tech settings, the hardware and firmware running it. 

Based on the sign’s function, a multi-display electronic paper screen can either be run by several hardware components, one for each display, or by a single hardware board controlling all of the displays at once.  

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Based on the sign’s function, a multi-display electronic paper screen can either be run by several hardware components or by a single hardware board.
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Driving board and sign management

Crucial in such tiling is Visionect’s electronic paper driving board, the hardware at the basis of digital signage products that has been developed from the ground up for signage applications using multiple electronic paper displays.

Visionect’s electronic paper driving board’s power options enable the creation of products with very long battery life or even that of completely autonomous and self-sustainable outdoor systems that can be powered by a solar cell.

Supporting the new signage entity is the Visionect Server, allowing the signage integrator to manage the tiled sign as a single unit, no matter if the maxi sign runs on one driving board or on several.  

Set the number of screens that make up the jumbo sign and check the ‘Live View’ tab to see if their content is displayed correctly; adjust the sign resolution and rotation, check the signal strength and battery status, and control the parameters of the e-paper sign session

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Supporting the new XXL sign are the Visionect electronic paper driving board and the Visionect Server.
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The Visionect Server interface allows you to control the settings and behavior of your tiled electronic paper screen by checking, among other, the sign’s signal strength and battery strength.

Menu boards, wayfinding screens and maps

One option of interconnecting multiple screens is to simply tile them together, with each screen running on its own electronic paper driving board.

This method of tiling offers the option of interconnecting as many e-paper screens as you want.

Because each of the displays in the multi-display sign is driven by its own hardware, there is no loss of signal that can sometimes occur in systems running a great quantity of wiring from one central hardware point across the whole of the solution. The communication between displays and their programming is always perfect, no matter the quantity of interconnected displays.

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Running each of the tiled displays on its own electronic paper driving board allows you to combine as many e-paper screens as you want.
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One option in interconnecting electronic paper displays is to run each of the displays in the multi-display screen on its own driving board, with the Visionect Server managing the tiled sign as a single unit.

However, the separate hardware also means the displays of the maxi sign will connect to the server individually, which can lead to slight delays between multiple screens due to variances in cellular network performance.  

Put simply, a section (that is, an individual display) of the tiled jumbo screen might be somewhat out of sync when refreshing what is shown - which is not a problem in signs that change content more infrequently, such as jumbo e-menu boards at restaurants, wayfinding maps or fuel price signs at gas stations.

Arrival information displays, traffic signs and destination indicators

Signage solutions that need seamless, constant refreshing of content and cannot afford one section of the multi-screen display to lag in showing updated information can, on the other hand, be tiled by having one driving board run all of the screens in the large-scale electronic paper sign.

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Solutions that need seamless refreshing of content can be tiled by having one driving board run all of the eink screens in the maxi sign.
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Tiled eink displays can also be driven by a single electronic paper driving board. This can either be a regular driving board with an extension, or a board with multiple drivers that can run several displays at once.

This means that one Visionect e-paper driving board, be it featuring an extension board or a driver capable of running multiple screens at once, will support multiple tiled displays and combine them together to function as a new, bigger screen - with connectivity and refresh times identical across the board. Moreover, this type of tiling will reduce the overall complexity of the signage solution and the number of its components, but has certain limitations when it comes to the number of screens that can be combined into the new sign.

This tiling method is perfect for applications such as arrival information displays at tram and bus stations, as well as traffic signs informing drivers of real-time traffic restrictions and destination blinds indicating the route and direction on public transportation vehicles.

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This type of tiling will reduce the overall complexity of the signage solution and the number of its components.
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Four 9.7’’ electronic paper displays tiled together into a traffic sign’s real-time information area and driven by a single Visionect e-paper driving board.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg - with freedom in deciding on electronic paper display size, new and innovative signage implementations of the energy saving technology with perfect visibility are sure to follow. 

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