Electronic Signage for Buildings (1988)
Jeroen van Erp
A. J. Stienstra
Luuk van Hagen, director of signage company Kemperman, recognised the potential of applying developments in electronics to indoor signage. Focusing on signs in hospitals, that needed frequent changing, Van Erp looked at various electronic displays and recognised the benefits of LCD.
He also investigated how electronic signs could be reprogrammed at a distance. Philips, which was working on a successor to the cathode ray tube, provided him with a state-of-the-art display and a protocol for data transfer. These enabled Van Erp to build a prototype with the help of the then Electrical Engineering faculty.
Van Erp’s remotely controlled displays, which made use of emerging LCD technology, enabled dynamic information to be displayed in buildings. Hardware prices at the time stood in the way of a sustainable business model, an obstacle that has since been overcome.
Watch the interview:
(English subtitles available)
In the 1980s indoor signage signalled a lot of work. Making signs by hand and then putting them up was time-consuming and required regular updating in response to changing occupants or use.
Graphics were a major challenge: the monochrome LCD displays of the day were far from advanced, causing Van Erp to design his own font to get over the problem of huge pixels. His font is based on Univers, the font of this booklet’s introductions.