Business opprtunities Entry-level digital signage

What do we mean by entry-level? In what areas can costs be min- imised (hardware, software, con- tent or support? We take a look at the changing nature of entry-lev- el digital signage.

When we last considered this subject, Thomas Walter, Sec- tion Manager Strategic Product Marketing, NEC Display Solu- tions Europe argued that “an open and modular signage play- er approach is the best solution for digital signage as it allows a smart upgrade of the signage player and screen both in terms of scale and performance.” But is ‘openness’ a luxury that budget precludes at the en- try-level? Thomas Walter argues that this is far from the case. “A basic integrated media play- er for simple media playback is ideal for single screen installa- tions or small companies. With an open modular solution, per- formance levels can be upgrad- ed should future requirements change.”

“The NEC Open Modular In- telligence (OMi) platform is an open and modular computing intelligence concept that al- lows the integration of a broad range of computing power from RaspberryPi to Intel Core i7 Slot-in PCs. Supporting all the common OS such as Windows, Linux, android and Raspbian, this solution provides compat- ibility with all major digital sig- nage software providers.” “Full performance media playback is fully integrated in the screen for a holistic ap- proach which is neat and cable free whilst customisable for current requirements and re- maining compatible for future upgrade.” A year later, in February this

year, NEC launched the new E Series for entry-level, UHD professional digital signage. Featuring an integrated Media Player for native UHD content playback, a 10W USB interface to power external devices (such as Raspberry Pi) and a playback scheduler that enables users to programme auto-play content. This latest generation of the E series is ideal for standalone cost-sensitive signage installa- tions. With

a are modern design,

high-definition brilliance and multiple input source options, the plug-and-play E Series dis- plays

perfectly-suited for

er at budget prices must be a good thing, right? Yes, but the display costs don’t tell the whole story, even if the media player is integrated.

And what about the soft- ware? Walter argues that: “The best system for digital signage is the one that provides the most flexible solution to the wide range of different cus- tomer requirements and an open and modular system can do that best. The OMi concept allows all kinds of signage applications including cloud- based software solutions. Cloud based signage systems provide fast availability, quick adoption and low operational efforts. We recommend our partners to be clear on their requirements and then rec- ommend the best fit solution which might differ from case to case.”

Platform diversity

NEC’s collaboration with RaspberryPi is intended to bring embedded affordable and upgradable computing power to its large format dis- plays. RaspberryPi is a true IoT device that can be smartly integrated into cloud-based systems.

NEC argues that this solu- tion is not a closed system – an allegation made about SoC solutions which can be limited by compatibility is- sues. Also, compute power is entirely available for media playback and not diverted to power the on-screen menu or display operation. NEC con- tends that its solution is the most cost-effective open and modular choice on the mar- ket.

But entry-level buyers with limited ambitions to upgrade and scale-up have other op- tions. Both LG and Samsung have entry-level solutions. LG’s SuperSign, for example, was first launched in the UK as an SMB solution with ap- plications in large retailers, hospitality and education, offering affordability to invest and simplicity of operation.

iCOMPEL interactive digital signage platform - a system-on-chip tech- nology empowering users to build eye-catching signage and to stream content from websites.

along with monitoring features that enable a single server PC to monitor multiple displays.

Remote control

Last year, it was announced that popular cloud signage software Signagelive release was com- patible with the remote control supplied with Samsung D and E Series Smart Signage Displays. This new feature allows any sup- ported piece of media, playlist or multi-zone layout to be selected and displayed on screen using the 0-9 buttons on the supplied Samsung Remote Control. The Signagelive / Samsung solution

supports interactivity

LG SuperSign with SimpleEditor: LG’s SuperSign, for example, was first launched in the UK in 2010 as an SMB solution.

digital signage applications in smaller retail outlets, hospitals, small museums and other pub- lic places, as well as for meet- ing and conferencing in small and medium-sized businesses. A quality solution from a rec- ognised digital signage suppli-

P16 AV News May 2019

“For SMB retail and com- mercial outlets looking for customer-engaging and cost-effective ways of gain- ing a competitive edge, LG’s new SuperSign digital signage solution provides the hard- ware, software and additional

with the displays without the need for a touchscreen or any other device, just the supplied remote control. This enhance- ment turns passive displays into multipurpose interactive media devices, unlocking lots of great use cases, in retail, hospitality and meeting rooms. It’s said to be simple to setup and use, all the user needs to do is publish content to interrupts 0-9 in Signagelive, set a dura- tion on the interrupt and the job is done is done. Not for every body perhaps, but for a simple reception display, perhap,s it certainly had us tempted

Content and maintenance

Digital Signage in advertising is used to stand out from the crowd and successfully impact on tar- get customers. The consensus

As digital signage content be- comes more demanding, we hit upon perhaps the basic problem of the entry level customer – the absence of a professional system manager or “signage champion” to ensure that the content is fault-free and continuously up- dated.

Solutions at the entry-level,

but with potential to scale, in- clude the Black Box iCOMPEL interactive digital signage plat- form - a system-on-chip technol- ogy empowering users to build eye-catching signage, stream content from websites and vi- sualise timetables, events, and useful wayfinding or emergency messages. Users can play, up- load, and share images, presen- tations, videos and audio media files on any HDMI screen. The platform supports 4K Ultra HD/ HD and simplifies creation and playout of HTML5-based con- tent. To facilitate updates and system management, iCOMPEL allows for remote device man- agement and configuration and provides on-screen diagnostics and error alerts. TrouDigital has also picked up

on the emerging demand in edu- cation. They offer a simple ‘drag- and-drop’ software enabling us- ers to create and manage their own content. This can be videos, photographs, news-feeds and more. This content is then put into a playlist and applied to a screen. Customers are provided with design templates and of- fered other help with regard to the design of their content. Each

features in an easy-to-use and install package.” At the time, LG’s own research shows SMBs comprising the largest proportion (31%) of the European digital signage market. It also reveals that SMB operators are seeking the same quality and reliability from displays as larger operators but at lower costs.

LG SuperSign is designed as a highly scalable solution that in- cludes displays, a media player (PC) and powerful but easy-to- use software. The solution allows an operator to transmit media and data files through a local area network (LAN) from a PC server with the SuperSign soft- ware installed.

A broad range of format support includes photos, PowerPoint pre- sentations and HTML and Flash content. It also packs in a full diagnostics

system, anti-theft system and fault monitoring among digital signage profes-

sionals is to steer away from a standardised approach with tem- plates which appear similar to all other signage installs. While customisable products allow tailor-made solutions in terms of performance, system integra- tion, management and main- tenance and are the basis for a good return on invest in the sig- nage system they can command a price premium.

4K UHD content is fast becom-

ing the de facto standard and undoubtedly brings huge advan- tages when it comes to shorter viewing distances. In digital sig- nage the viewing distance con- stantly changes, as the viewer passes by he will approach from a distance then be in close prox- imity. In both instances, the con- tent needs to be crisp, readable and appealing, no matter what the budget

customer is provided with a team viewer license free of charge. This means that if there are any software issues, TrouDigital can log-in and fix them proactively.

The software is run on an Android Media Signage PC box which is attached to the back of the screen. It will work with any screen, al- though TrouDigital can supply High Bright screens, designed to run a 24/7 duty cycle. Soft- ware updates automatically download to the box, Using Android rather than Windows means that content shown on the screen will not be in- terrupted by updates. This hand-holding is great for nov- ice users or new recruits to ‘signage champion’ role.

Additional items

Anything else to consider for the signage newbie? Keith Dutch, Peerless-AV’s EMEA MD, says: “Understanding that the mount is a vital part of almost every digital signage project is key. By selecting the right mounting solution for the display(s) at the start, the installer, systems integrator and end user will save valu- able time and money.” Peerless-AV specialises in “fully serviceable” LFD and LED mounting solutions, which means if there are any issues with the hardware, the key electrical components can be immediately accessed for service or “swap out”. This is especially important for 24-hour critical information systems within transport hubs like airports and rail.

Peerless also maintains that, for video wall projects, installation times are also massively reduced by using our ‘unique’ Video Wall Mount Locator App so installers can get ‘in and out’ of the project in less time. It has been noted by installers that Peerless-AV mounting solutions can often be up to 4 times faster to in- stall than other brands, thus reducing time on site and la- bour costs significantly. Key factors for consideration include compatibility, ease of installation, post-installation adjustment, serviceability, UL safety and aesthetics. As display configurations have become more complex, it has become critical to integrate the mount options into the initial design specification. Whichever way your custom- er chooses to go with an ear- ly venture in digital signage there is a solution to suit everybody but be sure their intentions are clear for the medium and long-term.

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