Manufacturers of display signs
September 22, 2005 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Looking for manufacturer, patent info of electronic display signs.

I'm interested in a particular type of electronic display. They display upper and lowercase alphanumerics by illuminating various combinations of irregularly shaped material. They are not 'dot-matrix' style message boards that use LEDs as pixels. Nor are they the 7 or 14 segment type.

Imagine a rectangle completely carved into rectangles and curved shapes. By lighting different combinations, you can form a wide number of shapes. There is practically no 'empty' space. If all of them were to be lit, it would appear as a glowing rectangle. In certain cases, it almost looks mosiac-like.

They have them in Grand Central Station, the WTC PATH station and I believe Penn Station. Probably a million other places.

If been googlin' like a madman and I can't find them. I looked at Grand Central and the WTC path, but I couldn't see a name on them. I'm interested in the exact specifics of how they cut up the rectangle, so ultimately, I'd prefer a patent or specs of that sort. -Thanks
posted by miniape to Technology (5 answers total)
Can you find or take a photo of what you're talking about, at least?
posted by nthdegx at 8:13 AM on September 22, 2005

Best answer: As soon as I read the question, I knew the ones you were talking about. And then I couldn't rest until I'd dug up some information about them, because, darn it, you've got me all interested in them too now.

I eventually found this manufacturer, who makes "mosaic-type LCD displays". They look like the right thing, but unfortunately the photos are pretty crap.

Finally, I found this US patent (5,497,171) which I reckon might be exactly what you're looking for. Page 8 has a schematic of the display arrangement, and pages 13 to 19 have some example characters.
posted by chrismear at 10:14 AM on September 22, 2005

I haven't found any information on the signs but here is a picture from Penn Station.
posted by aaronh at 10:31 AM on September 22, 2005

Response by poster: Amazing! Thanks to everyone. Chrismear nailed it.
posted by miniape at 10:38 AM on September 22, 2005

Upon doing more research in MTA documents, the company that makes the ones in use at Penn Station and Grand Central is Solari.

Strangely, their information and images page is also woefully bad. You'd think these guys would be more into making these things look good.
posted by aaronh at 10:57 AM on September 22, 2005

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