Early Bloomer

Toronto Pearson airport displays passenger info on a flower-shaped, LED-rich sculpture.
Inspired by the trillium wildflower, the sculpture at Toronto Pearson’s busiest terminal displays flights on curved NanoLumens displays. The round display below is decorative and informative.

Over 44 million passengers go through the Toronto airport each year, a startling number that exceeds the population of Canada itself. This bustling gateway to the world recently revamped its signage in a big way. A new sculpture inspired by Ontario’s floral emblem, the trillium, stands 35 ft. (10.5 meters) tall in Terminal 1. But to frequent travelers and locals, it’s simply “the flower.”

The flower sculpture is the combined work of NanoLumens, manufacturer of flexible LED displays, designers at ICON Media (Toronto) and a local architectural firm, Eventscape. This innovative art piece appeals to travelers and first-time visitors to the city. Toronto Pearson is just one of several international airports that are reviving signage in a vibrant, attractive manner.

Airports that operate 24/7 are also choosing LED over LCD-based displays. Considered to be market contenders in terms of pixel pitch, viewing angles and screen depth, the most reliable applications are turning to LED due to lifetime. “With critical front-side maintenance, an LED display out-lasts LCD, which is more maintenance intensive and typically requires replacement after five years,” said Martin LeClerc, NanoLumens’ international sales director.

Beyond practical concerns, there is also growing demand to provide a calm and soothing environment in a place where passengers may have to dwell. As Almir DeCarvalho, Nano-Lumens’ vice president of international sales, points out, airports are even competing to engage travelers and enhance customer experience. “The quality of restaurants is improving and many airports now have entire sections dedicated to art and history of the city, state or province. Our goal was to balance the aesthetic needs with functionality,” DeCarvalho said.

The sculpture uses custom-shaped flower “petals” with built-in flexible displays employing NanoLumens’ flexible pixel technology. Each 6 x 12-ft. (1.8 x 3.7-meter) display matches the curvature of the petal. The sculpture designers chose DuPont Corian for its translucence and its nuanced look when lit by color LEDs. “We took into consideration such factors as the ingress into the airport, so each petal was fabricated as a single piece and assembled on site,” DeCarvalho continued. An additional all-around display at the flower’s base is 26 ft. in circumference.

DeCarvalho made final notes regarding security. The display interface unit (DIU) uses a proprietary signal to prevent hacking. Very low levels of electromagnetic interference (EMI) also rank high on the list of priorities for international airports.

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