BYOD: Mobile Interactivity with Digital Signage Networks
Posted by Todd Fender in DisplaySearch, FPD Industry News, Small and Medium Displays on May 8, 2013
BYOD (bring your own device) has traditionally referred to the act of people bringing their personal devices into their work environment with the ability of being able to access privileged company documents and information on those devices. However, this acronym may soon find another application referring to personal interactivity with public digital signage networks.
Interactivity – whether via physical touch, gesture, or other method – has gained popularity over the last several years. Smart phones with touch screens have literally single-handedly changed the way we expect all interactive devices to work. Console-based video games have also helped push the envelope with gesture or motion-based interactivity (Xbox Kinect, PS move, Wii remote, etc.)
Regardless of how it is accomplished, interactivity seems to be gaining traction and popularity with end users. As a result, software companies, integrators and advertisers are noticing. The good news for them is the infrastructure is already very large and growing larger every day.
According to NPD DisplaySearch’s Smartphone Quarterly report, smartphone shipments will reach 937 million in 2013, just over half of all mobile phone shipments. We live in a connected world and for the masses, there may be no going back. “Generation Y” is now driving many markets, and they thrive on interaction. Whether the interaction is social media (Twitter, four square, instagram, etc.), based on an ability to respond to simple surveys, polls or to provide feedback for the chance of winning or earning discounts or prizes, playing games with people at the same venue, or to receive additional product or service information on a new product they just saw; they want it and they want it now, on their device.
How will increased mobile interactivity with these networks affect the digital signage ecosystem? Will public kiosks become extinct or shift their focus to cater to the older generations and to the very young? Will the market for touch overlays and other touch technologies on large screen public displays decline? (According to our tracking of large format commercial display sell through in U.S. distribution channels, in Q1’13, touch-enabled monitor sales declined by 16% Y/Y.)
Ten Tips for Designers Creating Digital Signage Hardware
Author: John Schilling, Senior Technical Architect, Scala Inc.
Digital signage is much more than just billboards or posters. Digital signage combines content from virtually any source and connects to a wide variety of displays for a highly impactful interactive communications experience. It can inform and influence audiences to promote products, provide directions, explain corporate benefits, reinforce branding, manage key performance indicators and much more.
Over the years, digital signage has become an effective tool for marketers and corporate communications professionals to reach consumers, employees and other stakeholders in multiple environments. One of the big drivers in growth of the digital signage market has been decreasing hardware costs. Prices of digital displays, players and other hardware components have gone down considerably and sparked adoption. Research from Intel projects there will be 10 million media players and a corresponding 22 million digital signs worldwide by 2015 (see 22 Million Digital Signs By 2015). The same research calls out retail, corporate and transportation as the top three sectors for digital signage expansion with healthcare and hospitality experiencing significant growth.
A typical digital signage hardware deployment includes digital displays, content management servers and digital signage players. These digital signage players run digital signage software and are responsible for transmitting information from content management servers to multiple displays. It is important to have good stable software on your players, but it's also important to have rock solid hardware.
This is where hardware designers come into the picture. A digital signage player is the heart of the hardware configuration which pumps content from servers to the screen. Here are ten tips designers can keep in mind while creating digital signage products:
- Talk to Customers and Software Developers: A great starting point for a designer is to have conversations with customers and software developers to understand their requirements and objectives with digital signage installations. This process is critical to designing customer-centric products that align with the latest software developments.
- Use Quality Components: Stability of hardware goes hand in hand with stability of software. Digital signage software is only effective if the supporting hardware runs without glitches. It is essential for designers to use high- quality, stable components in digital signage players. Cutting costs with low- quality, unreliable parts that result in system failures just shift expenses to later in the product lifecycle.
- Graphics Quality Matters: The ability of digital signage to command attention is greatly dependent on the graphics capability of the digital signage player. This means the graphics systems of the players need to be sophisticated enough to display an MPG or H264 movie and do an overlay of alpha-blended, semi- transparent anti-alias text on top of that video. To deliver such a complex display, designers need to use quality, stable graphics components specifically manufactured for digital signage players.
- Serviceability: It's critical for designers to keep in mind the serviceability of the digital signage player once it has been deployed. For instance, from a design perspective, centrifugal blowers mounted so as to be easily removed, in combination with heat-pipes and thermal spreaders, make for highly reliable cooling solutions that are generally better than using axial fans. We have seen instances where designers have buried smaller axial modular fans in a chassis in such a way as to require the removal of 25 screws and so can be cumbersome to deal with while servicing! Centrifugal blowers provide better quieter airflow cooling to the player and are also easier to service.
- Power Supply: If the power supply is internal, it needs to be built for reliability under the actual customer environment where it will be deployed. A digital signage player will oftentimes be placed in a 10 centimeter gap between a 550 watt plasma screen and a wall or the player will go into a tight little equipment closet. In both cases, there is limited airflow and elevated temperatures for the players. To address this environment, designers should use solid polymer caps over electrolytic capacitors. Solid polymer caps may be more expensive but have much better behavior over time under elevated thermal conditions. If the power supply is external, friction fit connections from the power supply to the player are not really acceptable. The better approach is to have a positive interlock, which will help keep the connectors in place under stress or vibration.
- Efficient Use of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs): A digital signage player is very similar to a gaming console which plays video games like Halo™ or Doom™. However, a key distinction is that those games are producing tens of thousands of polygons per second in 3D space. A typical digital signage would use a maximum of four polygons per 2D text character on the screen, so there are never more than a couple of thousand polygons on the screen. Designers can install a good quality GPU and downclock it for digital signage use. If you downclock the GPU by even 30 percent, you reduce the power consumption by 50 percent and more importantly you reduce the heat output by 50 percent. Taking this step can reduce the thermal design challenges for building the player.
- USB Dongles: A large number of digital signage products today use USB security dongles to keep their software from being pirated. I recently came across a design for a digital signage player where the USB connecter for the dongle was on the inside the box instead of outside. It's a great design element, especially since the dongles are meant for security and nothing says "security" better than the connecter being inside the box in a secure location.
- RS232 Port: Many players today only come with USB ports and have no support for RS232 connectors. In the commercial screen space, RS232 is still the dominant mechanism to control screens and video switchers. Designers should include the RS232 adapters in their players along with USB, as these connectors are much more reliable than the USB to RS232 converters that are available on the market.
- Thin Player Design: There seems to be a general trend to make digital signage players too small. These players are usually fitted at the back of big plasma screens and making them small really doesn't help performance. Another idea designers should consider is using existing laptop design for players. Consumer laptops are built in volume and have the capacity for heavy graphics utility. Designers could save on tooling costs by using a standardized player VESA-mount chassis and adapting laptop printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA) to the stock chassis using mounting jigs and ribbon cables for the connectors. This way new PCBAs can be accommodated without substantial re-tooling work. Purchasing found a new PCBA? Just make a new set of jigs and cable harness!
- Cable Traps: Digital signage players have a great number of cables going in and out of them. Using a cable trap is a simple but elegant design approach because they can hold the cables together in an organized fashion and also provide strain relief. This way cables don't get entangled, friction-fit connectors do not get pulled out, and the entire assembly is easy to work with if anything needs to be changed.
Narita International Airport features Japan's Largest Digital Signage System by Mitsubishi Electric
Tokyo, June 26, 2012 - Mitsubishi Electric Corporation announced today that it has completed installation of Japan's largest digital signage system at Narita International Airport, comprising a total of 100 display units made up of a total of 336 display panels, including Panorama Vision, an organic light-emitting display (OLED) screen. The system, which covers all passenger terminal areas, displays airport news, entertainment programs and advertisements as well as relaxing imagey, including "Living Japan", which depicts the beautiful natural scenery of Japan, and "Aquarium Japan," which shows enchanting marine life. Following an opening ceremony on June 26, 2012, the system will begin full-scale operations.
Narita International Airport has undertaken a fundamental review of airport information presentation and has introduced this digital signage system to deliver appropriate and timely information to its customers.
In addition to manufacturing the large display systems and the video streaming system, Mitsubishi Electric contributed to the overall concept design, including unit placement, design of the large display systems and LCDs, and video content creation, which includes choosing the clearest and most visually appealing fonts and progression speeds for each location and how to most effectively arrange displays to provide information and entertainment to waiting travelers.
Core features of the system include
- Panorama Vision, the world's first seamless and smooth 160-degree OLED concave screen. It measures 9.6m x 1.9m (385-inch), consisting of 2,000 96mm x 96mm OLED panels.
- Large-scale multiple LCD screen units installed in all passenger terminal areas, including a 9.2m x 1.7m unit consisting of 27 46-inch display panels (equivalent to a 370-inch screen) as well as units made up of 16, 12, 8 and 4 panels, respectively.
- 42-inch touchscreen user stations created along the principles of universal design.
- Mediaway, a video streaming system, delivering full HD video to 100 display units simultaneously or independently, and capable of promptly switching from scheduled videos to emergency information.
Smart TV Alliance to create a large and productive ecosystem for Smart TV application development
Leading TV Makers Launch Smart TV Alliance, Provide Infrastructure For Effective Collaboration Among Smart TV Makers and App Developers
SEOUL, KOREA / AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS / SAN RAMON, (CALIF.) USA - June 20, 2012
Founding members LG Electronics and TP Vision (for Philips TVs) today officially established Smart TV Alliance with other Japanese TV manufacturers in the process of joining. The Alliance forms a cooperation that aims at enhancing the Smart TV experience by creating a non-proprietary ecosystem for application developers to create attractive, platform-independent services. The foundation of the Smart TV Alliance comes after the collaboration announcement of the mentioned TV makers at IFA 2011 in Berlin. The names of other players that are joining the Alliance will be announced accordingly on the Alliance's website.
Expanded Market Opportunities
"Before today, the Smart TV industry was a very difficult market for both TV manufacturers and application developers as TV's from different brands used different platforms and technologies," said Bong-seok Kwon of LG Electronics, President of Smart TV Alliance. "Smart TV Alliance creates a larger playing field which encourages developers to create more and better TV applications at the same time giving manufacturers and consumers the richest source of movies-on-demand, music services, games, social networking and more."
Reduced Time and Costs
Alain Perrot, a Smart TV Alliance Executive board member from TP Vision, is convinced that reduced application development time and costs will be beneficial for all: "Instead of spending valuable time on porting and testing on different platforms, developers can focus their creativity solely on realising apps that consumers will enjoy. Now we can really make it interesting and fun for everybody." "We continue to believe this is the right direction for Smart TV makers and app developers," said Sharp.
To make it easy for new partners to join in this effort and to facilitate effective discussions, the founding Smart TV makers have established Smart TV Alliance Consortium (www.SmartTV-Alliance.org). One of the primary objectives of this consortium is to help define technical specifications which will enable application developers to create their applications once and run them on multiple TVs regardless of the platform.
To enable this kind of development process, Smart TV Alliance will make the first version of its software development kit (SDK) available on its website which developers can download at no cost and use to develop their applications. The SDK is based on open web technologies such as HTML5 and allows for developed web applications to run on Smart TV's from participating members regardless of the underlying platform.
Smart TV Alliance plans to build on this first version and announce specifications of SDK 2.0 followed by the actual SDK 2.0 software release at the end of this year. With SDK 2.0, developers will be able to create applications for 2013 TV sets from participating Alliance members. Smart TV Alliance is designed to benefit all participating members, TV makers, applications developers and content providers alike, and welcomes any interested organizations to join. Full details about new members, current activities, developer forums and SDK information will be available on the official website -- www.SmartTV-Alliance.org -- by the end of the month.
About Smart TV Alliance
The Smart TV Alliance's mission is to create a large and productive ecosystem for Smart TV application development that gives manufacturers a faster path to more and better TV applications, enables developers to write applications once for many different platforms, and provides consumers with a rich source of content and services. For more information on the development environment or how to join the Alliance, visit www.SmartTV-Alliance.org.
Five tips to stay ahead of the digital signage evolution
By Erica Schroeder, Cisco Systems Inc.
It's no secret that today's marketplace is rapidly evolving. With these changes, customers are expecting more, challenging you to look for new ways to reach and engage with them. It's this expectation that is moving digital signage beyond advertisement to a highly interactive and personalized experience, making the network and a robust digital signage platform more important than ever.
Here are five tips to make sure you are always prepared for changing customer behavior patterns and the digital signage evolution:
1. Plan for the customer of today and tomorrow
Determine what customer needs your signage solution should meet. Is it entertainment? Information? Awareness? You may need a digital sign to serve multiple purposes during a day, or over time. It's important to keep in mind how you may use your digital signage technology in the future. For example, start with promotional content over digital signage, and over time, invest in increasingly interactive and customized content for your viewers. Think about a digital sign as a complement to other forms of communications — the Web and mobile devices. You may even consider eventually delivering live interactions such as "remote expert" customer service to a digital display, improving customer service and setting yourself apart from the competition.
2. Think multipurpose
To get the most value out of your investment, think beyond the traditional use cases of advertising and information sharing for digital signage. You can use your signage for employee communication and training before the opening hours of your store. You could integrate signage with your emergency communications system, using a digital sign as another endpoint to alert your organization to emergencies and other important communications. Thinking broadly about digital signage will help you get a strong return on investment.
3. Optimize your network bandwidth
With the recent spike in video growth, many networks are already over-burdened with traffic. High-resolution digital media must compete for bandwidth with other applications that IT must deliver. Partnering between the business and IT is critical for success. With content delivery solutions, you can optimize your network — and in particular your WAN — to deliver the highest quality live and on-demand video content to end-users anywhere, anytime without affecting your other business-critical data applications.
4. Prepare your smart network
It's important to think about ways to automate the process — and reduce costs. Can you have endpoints that automatically install themselves? How do you reduce costs for deployment? With "smart" digital signage players, the element of human error is dramatically reduced, and so is the cost of the installation and maintenance. When digital signs are deployed on an intelligent network, you can reduce operational costs because you can monitor and manage the signs centrally. That means reduced TCO and better ROI, and ensures that signage can co-exist with transactional applications and other data on an already crowded network.
5. Content matters
With the plan, purpose and technology in place, the last component comes down to content. As we all say, content is king. But that content now has to be more than just digitized replacement for posters and standard marketing materials. Increasingly, there is a need for more customized, engaging and relevant content for your audience. This is where understanding the role a particular sign plays, relative to other signs, is critical. Consider physical location and purpose: Is the content to inform or guide? Is it interactive — on its own or with a customer's mobile device? Signage content requirements are best considered as a unique platform — and the industry is still going through that transition, much in the same way the early Web developed from static marketing sites to transactions and ultimately to e-commerce. Know and listen to your audience to ensure you are planning for today's content needs and how those needs will evolve.
Schroeder is the director of marketing, Enterprise Video Group, Cisco.
Source: Digital Signage Today