Electronic Message Centres

High-impact digital signage

Electronic Message Centres (aka EMCs) are a powerful tool for any business or organization. Digital signs enable you to communicate directly and draw attention to what your business has to offer.
EMCs began with single-color displays but have since evolved to offer a range of colors and resolutions with great flexibility. EMCs let you display messages, graphics, videos, and images.
Graphics can be changed easily from a computer or cell phone, which makes keeping your signage current and your customers updated on sales easier than ever.

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Understanding EMCs

The technology seen in the modern EMC screen has been constantly evolving and perfecting itself for many years. The first electronic signs were simple – light bulbs placed in a specific pattern that turned on and off in set intervals. From there, EMCs evolved to become programmable, which allowed incandescent light bulbs to be affixed to sign faces, and automatically turned on and off at different times. This programmability allowed these signs to display changing messages.

There were limited improvements to this technology over the next couple of decades until an innovative breakthrough in lighting technology occurred: the light-emitting diode (LED). Incandescent signs were only capable of displaying single-color, basic messages with limited capabilities, and required large amounts of power to operate. LEDs use a combination of three colors (red, green, and blue) which can be transformed into millions of colors, and require much less power.

EMCs are now capable of displaying virtually any computer-generated image, and can also display a wide variety of effects which include simple changes from one image to another, or full-motion video in high definition.

Increase Revenue

It’s estimated that the installation of an EMC has the opportunity to increase business revenue by up to 150 percent. Non-commercial entities such as schools, churches, and community centers can also greatly benefit from EMCs through the ability to inform the public of changing information in a timely and effective manner.

The Small Business Administration of America compared the cost with other advertising mediums:
Newspapers – $7.39 per 1000 exposures.
Television – $6.26 for 1000 exposures.
Radio – $5.47 for 1000 exposures.
Electronic Message Center – $0.45 for 1000 exposures.

Eco Friendly

The ability to display more messages in one place lets you advertise more promotions. This  reduces the overall signage required, allowing you to reduce over-all waste.

EMCs consist of LED lights. Changeable signs of the past, such as readographs use fluorescent bulbs, which become more difficult to service due to their decrease in popularity and high toxicity leading to a decrease in production for their components.

LEDs are more energy efficient, consuming less electricity and saving $$$

Save $$$

Technological advances are continually leading to a reduced cost of producing and running EMCs. These displays can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for at least 10 years, with minimal bulb replacement, and electricity costs as low as $74 a year for small displays.


Being able to update your sign remotely saves the labor of manually changing your signage.
Traditional readographs are subject to weather damage, vandalism, missing letters, and design limitations. Switching to a digital sign avoids all of these annoyances.

SOURCES – The Sign Association of Canada (2019) Electronic Message Center Basics  Daktronics (2013) Effectiveness of Outdoor Digital Displays for the Convince Store Industry

Key Terms



An LED (light emitting diode) is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it. Light is produced when the particles that carry the current (known as electrons and holes) combine together within the semiconductor material.



A unit of light in a screen that comes together with other pixels to make an image. The resolution of your image is defined by ppi (pixels per inch)


//ˌdiː  piː/

DIP (Dual In-Line Package) LED technology has been around for more than 50 years. DIP used to be the most common LED as it was cheap and reliable. Today, with continued technological innovation, DIP and SMD LEDs are comparable in price and reliability.


//ˌɛs ɛm d/

Surface Mounted Device LEDs (aka “SMD”) LEDs, have become very popular due to their versatility. SMD LEDs can be made very small and have led to higher definition digital displays, as more LEDs can fit per square inch. They can produce curved and even transparent displays.

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