Effective communication and collaboration relies on the participants’ ability to comfortably engage with the shared content. Content needs to be clearly visible and any text being displayed must be legible from any seat in the room. Determining the proper display size, type and placement is key in creating an engaging collaborative environment conducive to successful meetings.
Considering the technologies early in the planning phase will allow for the most flexibility in design options and provide the best possible outcome. An analysis of the requirements and goals will help in determining the ideal display for the space. Working in collaboration with the designer and project stakeholders to factor in the room’s furniture and its placement, calculations of the room’s dimensions, viewing distances and angles can be made. The types of content, the room’s ambient light, the options for mounting in-wall and in-ceiling displays or projectors, the control system and budget will be factored in as well.
Viewing Distance Drives Display Type
The distance of the furthest participant is a key factor in determining display type. There are various methods to determine proper viewing distance and screen size. The commercial AV industry association, AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, formerly Infocomm), offers the specification “ANSI/INFOCOMM V202.01:2016, Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual System”. The standard uses multiple calculations that factor content, viewer positions from multiple locations, image size, font size, ambient light, off-axis viewing, the human eye’s range of sight at various angles, and more. These standards apply not only to presentation spaces, but to more complex applications such as auditoriums, training venues and Security Operations Centers (SOC) as well.
Calculating for Content
For huddle spaces and small-to-medium conference rooms, calculations using a multiplier factor can provide a close estimation of display size that can help guide the design. Screen size and distance calculations are greatly impacted by the content being presented, however, because the type of content dictates the multipliers (or factors) used in the calculation.
For corporate environments where presentations including PowerPoint, Excel, Word or Webpages will be shared, a large image will enhance user engagement by allowing participants to read the content more clearly and comfortably. To calculate for this scenario, use a multiplier of 6 times the display’s image height (based on 1920 x 1080P resolution) to determine the furthest seating position. If data-rich content such as CAD drawings, Word or Excel documents or Web pages are to be shared, a factor of 4 should be used for added clarity. In boardrooms and conference rooms using video conferencing such as WebEx or Skype for Business, a multiplier of 4 is also recommended since it is a mixed-use application with multiple windows within the display image.
If the shared content is primarily videos, calculating screen size and viewing distance is more lenient using a multiplier of 8 times the display’s image height. For example, if using a 55″ Monitor (27″ high screen height), the maximum seating distance would be 18’ (8 X 27 = 216”). Again, this is for video viewing and not necessarily a comfortable distance for viewing text-based content. In a mixed-content environment, such as a conference room, the text-content calculation should be used as the default. Another alternative offering great flexibility without compromising design is installing both an on-wall LED display as well as an in-ceiling projection screen. This scenario offers sleek aesthetics coupled with the ability to transition to a large format screen based on more detailed content.
The 45° Rule of Thumb
Viewing angles are a critical consideration, especially with wide rooms or where multiple displays may be required to provide easy viewing from various positions. As a general rule-of-thumb, participants should be within 45 degrees from the center of the screen and the top of the screen should be positioned within 30 degrees above the audiences’ eye level. AVIXA’s standards are much more detailed, but this general guideline will help set the expectation of screen size and positioning for initial design purposes.
Widescreen aspect ratios of 16:9 and 16:10 are currently the most common, with 16:9 becoming more prevalent. Laptops have landed on 16:9, but most new displays and projectors can properly scale a 16:10 image to 16:9 and visa-versa. Any incompatibilities in native resolution and screen size/ratio can be addressed by the system designer.
By providing a screen that maximizes your content, your participants will remain engaged and your meetings will become more productive. Do you have a meeting space that could benefit from a more engaging video experience? Call us for a complimentary on-site assessment and let’s get started!