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Dynamic and Adaptive Signage: Product Explanation


What is dynamic and adaptive signage?

Dynamic and adaptive signage is a very recent phenomenon. It’s still in development and newly emerging into the market, so people are only just beginning to get their head around how it works and why it’s effective. There’s a huge variety of acronyms around ‘dynamic’ signage, it’s been referred to as: dynamic, intelligent, adaptive, smart, among other terms. All of these terms essentially mean the same thing and they all lead to one unique selling point of the product. Instead of being ‘passive’ like the other fire exit signs on the market, they are both ‘reactive’ and ‘adaptive’ to their environment.

Up until now, when the alarms go off in most buildings, emergency exit signs don’t do anything more than they did before the alarm went off. They’re illuminated. They show you which exit to go to. The only problem is that the arrow is pointing to the right. That could be where the fire is, so this is a pain point that the Evaclite product targets and is able to solve. Currently, fire exit signs are passive and that’s the issue, Evaclite is making the move to dynamic signage.

How do dynamic signs work?

The signs have been made both adaptive and dynamic at the same time. The emergency exit sign is attached to the ceiling and connected to a smoke detector, which may only be a metre or two away from the emergency exit sign. This is one of the triggers for the sign to activate into adaptive mode.  A fire engineer would then inspect the fire panel and do some cause and effect programming, this would determine if smoke is detected in a specific zone and acknowledge that we don’t want people going out of that specific exit, this would then activate a red cross to appear in the form of a 3 pulse array across the sign. This is now a negated X. It’s no longer a fire exit, but people are still able to see that it was a fire exit.

A lot of design for the product takes into account people’s behaviour. Evaclite could have flushed the red sign with a constant flashing X. But then this creates some confusion, is the sign faulty? Should we ignore the X? I’m not sure it’s working. This all cuts into valuable time and in a fire, the second’s matter.

Why use LED pulses?

To try and combat any confusion that could be caused by a flashing X across the sign, Evaclite uses LED lights that pulsate at the outer corners, so the sign is static yet eye-catching. It’s important to note that the lights aren’t just there for purely practical reasons, there is a psychological reason for the pulses. It’s intuitive and people have to instinctively understand the message without stopping to think about its meaning. The 3x pulsing array only activates when the alarm has sounded, ensuring that building occupants will not become too familiar with the concept, reducing the likelihood of learned irrelevance. The enhanced design also has the advantage of being fail-safe – if the LEDs failed to operate, the sign would remain compliant, as a standard passive emergency exit sign. The way the flashes present is from left to right, if you’re to follow the flashes with your head, you’re turning your head from one side to the other and saying ‘no’. This may sound a little simplified, but psychologically it’s another effective deterrent.

How do we know they work?

Evaclite have conducted a number of trials on the dynamic signs. Evaclite found that 60% of people don’t actually notice passive signs (standard emergency exit signs) during an evacuation. It all comes down to what is known as ‘learned irrelevance’. When you see something every day it loses its impact. It’s not something that’s relevant to you now, so you block it out and gradually this becomes a learned behaviour. During a trial conducted at the University of Greenwich.  Participants had to run down a corridor with the passive signs present and the majority of people didn’t notice them, and if they did, they didn’t follow the way that the sign recommended.

Evaclite replicated that trial, and this time, they put in the dynamic exit signs, and received twice better detection. The majority of the people not only noticed but verbally acknowledged the signs. The key in this trial was the time it took to make the decision. In the first trial participants were spending on average 6 seconds deciding which way to go. However, when presented with the dynamic signs they didn’t stop and think they just acted, and these few seconds could be vital in the event of a real fire.

Why is this so important?

As we’ve said multiple times, if you’re in an emergency, every second is crucial. If you find yourself in a high rise building, you start to multiply the seconds and quickly the seconds turn into minutes and suddenly it’s been 10 minutes. This is really the USP of the product, reaction time. Although the design is brilliant and loved by architects the product focuses heavily on human behaviour and instinct to get you out of danger as quickly as possible.

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Want to discover why hotels are making the move to dynamic and adaptive signage?

Download our free eBook: ‘Dynamic Emergency Exit Signage: Why the time is now for the hotel sector’ to discover the wider problems facing hotels and how they deal with some very practical customer experience issues.

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