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This guide explores electronic message centers, what they are, and how they work. Keep reading for expert insights on EMCs from an experienced LED sign manufacturing company.

What Are Electronic Message Centers?

Electronic Message Centers, also known as EMCs, are digital signs that can change their displays using LED lights. EMCs represent a step forward by giving businesses a better way to communicate and advertise.

Side Note: EMCs come in various resolutions that affect how “dotted” or smooth displays appear.

Evolution From Traditional Signage:

Before EMCs, business signs had fixed messages that were hard to update. You essentially had to replace the whole sign to change the message.

When EMCs came along, they introduced LED light displays that could be controlled by a computer, which meant businesses could show new messages whenever they wanted.

This made EMCs generally more useful, or at least more powerful, than older-style signs. Today, with the ability to change content at will, businesses can:

  • Display multiple messages throughout the day
  • Quickly update information in response to changing circumstances
  • Showcase more dynamic content
  • Tailor messages to specific times of day or events

EMCs vs LED Signs: What’s The Difference?

EMCs are a specific subset of LED signs. The term EMC is reserved for the common types of on-premise signs that businesses use, while an LED sign refers to any sign using LED technology. EMCs are generally regulated at the local level, while LED signs can fall under broader regulations.

How Do Electronic Message Centers Work?

EMCs work like large-scale digital displays, meaning they rapidly switch LEDs on and off to create the illusion of moving images or changing text.

For monochrome displays, each LED is simply turned on or off. In full-color (RGB) displays, pixels are illuminated at varying intensities to produce different colors.

Keep in mind that some EMCs maintain a steady image that does not change. These static displays use the same LED technology but are programmed to show a fixed message or image. This can be useful for businesses that want to display consistent information like store hours, contact details, or a company logo.

EMC Control System:

EMC control systems manage displays through specialized software, which includes:

  • Content management, preview, and scheduling tools
  • Remote access and control capabilities
  • Multi-zone display management
  • Data integration for displaying real-time information (e.g., temperature)
  • Diagnostics and system health monitoring
  • Automatic content rotation and playlist creation

Advanced EMCs:

Advanced EMCs often feature pixel pitches as small as 6mm for ultra-sharp displays. Additionally, modern EMCs can display the right level of brightness based on the time of day. This is a considerable leap forward compared to old-fashioned displays, which sometimes suffer from visibility issues.

Key Components of an Electronic Message Center

Here’s a quick summary list:

LED Modules: The basic display units of the EMC.

Power Supply Units: These convert AC power to DC and often incorporate power filtering and voltage regulation measures to reduce electrical noise and ensure system compatibility.

Control Systems: These allow for remote management and updating of display content.

Enclosures and Weatherproofing: These protect the EMC components from environmental factors, preferably in accordance with IP and NEMA protection standards for outdoor use.

Brightness Control: This feature uses sensors to adjust display brightness based on ambient light conditions, ensuring visibility in varying light environments.

Communication Interfaces: These allow for data transmission and remote control.

Mounting Systems: These provide flexible installation options, often including integrated slotted mounting angles and removable lifting plates.

Thermal Management Systems: These maintain optimal operating temperatures, which is crucial for the longevity and performance of outdoor units.

Front Access Panels: These enable easy maintenance and module replacement without the need for rear access.

Optional Components: These can include internal clocks for time-based messaging, audio systems for synchronized presentations, and more.

Types of Electronic Message Centers

EMCs are best categorized based on the following factors.

Color Capabilities:

  • Monochrome EMCs
  • Full-color EMCs

Display Complexity:

  • Single-line text displays
  • Multi-line text displays
  • Graphics and animation-capable signs


  • Indoor EMCs
  • Outdoor EMCs

Viewing Angles:

  • Single-sided EMCs
  • Double-sided EMCs


  • Fixed EMCs
  • Mobile EMCs

Specialized Types:

  • Time and temperature displays
  • Menu boards
  • Video boards
  • Tickers

EMCs with lower resolutions tend to look more dotted, while higher resolutions appear smoother. As you can expect, static text will show more pixelation than moving images or video. Newer EMC technologies can reduce the appearance of individual pixels.

Where Are Electronic Message Centers Used?

EMCs are used in many places and industries. Let’s take a look at the most common examples.

Retail and business signage:

If you’ve ever seen a scrolling message board outside a bank or gas station showing the time and temperature, you’ve seen an EMC. However, this is only one example. EMCs are also used by businesses to display sale items, pricing, and promotional messages.

Educational institutions:

Schools and universities use EMCs to display event information and important announcements and integrate with emergency alert systems.

Churches and community centers:

EMCs are used by churches and community organizations to promote events and share inspirational messages.

Sports venues and stadiums:

This is a major application area for EMCs. They are used for displaying scores and player statistics, running advertisements, and enhancing overall fan engagement.

Government and municipal use:

Cities and local governments use EMCs for public announcements, traffic updates, and emergency communications.

Healthcare facilities:

Hospitals and medical centers use EMCs for wayfinding, patient information, and health-related messaging.

Financial institutions:

Banks often use EMCs to display interest rates, currency exchange rates, and other financial information.

Benefits of Using Electronic Message Centers

Here are the core benefits of EMCs and why so many businesses use them:

  • Dynamic content capabilities
  • Increased visibility and engagement
  • Cost-effectiveness over the long run
  • Energy efficiency and durability
  • Weather resistance
  • Remote management and easy updates
  • 24/7 advertising presence
  • Ability to display multiple messages
  • Real-time updates
  • Versatility for various industries and purposes
  • Customizable display options (size, color, resolution)
  • Multi-language capabilities
  • Emergency communication capabilities

The Future of Electronic Message Centers (EMCs)

In the future, EMCs will advance across a number of parameters. They’ll offer better resolution, brightness, and energy efficiency, which can already be seen in certain cutting-edge displays.

Specific technologies driving this trend include:

  • Advanced driver ICs
  • High-efficiency LED chips
  • Nano-coating technologies
  • Smart power management systems
  • AI-powered content optimization
  • Advanced thermal management systems
  • Multi-zone display management
  • Integration with IoT and smart city systems
  • Enhanced local dimming technologies

Ultimately, EMCs are poised to evolve from relatively simple signs into interactive, data-driven advertising and messaging hubs.

Contact Yaham For Your Electronic Message Center Needs

With over 25 years of experience, Yaham can help you find the right EMC and LED signage for your needs. Our expertise in designing, manufacturing, and installing state-of-the-art signage ensures you’ll receive a product that exceeds your expectations.

Contact us for a quote to improve your business with a tailor-fit solution.