Digital Billboard Timeline: Technological Advancements Lead to Profitability

Nine Years is a Long Time in This Business

How about a quick history lesson?

Quiz: What Year Was It?

President Reagan passed away. Facebook made its debut. Shrek 2 was tops at the box office. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunctioned. A gallon of gas only cost $2.00. And the Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino.

Answer: 2004

Yes, it’s been awhile. In 2004, the networks were just starting to broadcast in HD. There were no iPhones, no Androids, no tablets. I’m pretty sure I had a sweet flip phone and giant monitor on my desk at the office.

My point? Nine years is a pretty long time…and in electronics, it’s an eternity.

In 2004, we were proud of our 35mm LED product — pretty cutting edge for that time. But a year later, as technology advanced, we introduced our 19mm product line. It wasn’t just higher resolution, it represented a significant advancement in the evolution of LED signage — the move from four LED pixels to the more modern and reliable three LED design.

As you may know, LED manufacturers work hard to continually improve the performance of their product. By the end of 2004, high quality LEDs had become bright enough for us to abandon the four LED design in favor of the three. We were ecstatic to make this improvement, integrating the highest quality LEDs into our top-of-the-line products immediately.

Any engineer focused on product reliability knows that one of the primary drivers of product reliability, measured as Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), is its component count. The concept is pretty simple: when you decrease the parts count, you increase performance and uptime. We do it across the board in our product, from LEDs to power supplies to the number of connections on the back of each module. In electronics, fewer means better.

That was the key to our decision to shift from four LEDs to three — which, in terms of LED quantity, cut component count by 25% and dramatically improved MTBF. It wasn’t a question; it clearly made our product better.

Although there are still a few products on the market using four LEDs per pixel, they’ve mostly gone the way of the flip phone. When you see those products on the market, four LED pixels can be an indicator of low quality, low brightness LEDs — something to think about when you choose a manufacturer.

But nine years ago, this was a big deal. Experience has taught us that innovations like these are vital to offering the best products on the market. And similar advancements, large and small, have made Watchfire products exceptionally reliable — and profitable — for our customers.

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