Volume 7, Issue 12 — December 14, 2015
|Emerging Liabilities in Dynamic Digital Signage|
By Robert White
Manager of Convergent Technologies, Multi-Media Solutions
As an integrator providing digital signage have you ever thought about all of the things that can jump up and bite you in the proverbial butt? I mean the kinds of things that can really put you at odds with your customer or even worse land you in a lawsuit. Well, suffice to say there are quite a few things these days that can create this outcome, and if you don’t do your best to stay abreast of them and keep your customer informed you can end up in some hot water. So these liabilities where are they coming from? How serious are they, and why should I pay attention to them? Let’s take a couple minutes to uncover some of the big ones and try to answer these questions.
Let’s start with a list of some of the hot buttons…
- Does that ADA compliance thing apply to our design and implementation of digital signage?
Let’s start by uncovering some of the places these liabilities are coming from. Many of them deal with safety, but the real kicker is that some liabilities are enforced by the government. Take the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) for example. This civil rights law enacted in 1990 affects many aspects of both interactive and non-interactive digital signage. For example, if the touchscreen kiosk in your lobby is available from forward approach and has touch buttons above 48″ tall and there is no handicap mode that changes the height of these buttons then your kiosk is breaking the law. There are serious implications at stake.
- Do you have permission to use that? Video, TV shows, streams and content from other websites…
Did you know that some of the RSS feeds that you and I take for granted that our customers can use have “use clauses” that preclude them from being employed in digital signage? Did you know that some of those images that our end users copy and paste from google image searches to use in their signage are actually copyrighted material? The second one may not be a surprise, but the first one may be. The chances of getting caught for the smaller digital signage infractions may not be high, but in some cases, it still constitutes breaking the law.
- Where did this calories requirement come from and where does it apply?
A new liability for digital signage goes into effect in December 2016 from the FDA, referred to as the Menu Labeling Law. Many have heard of this law so it is not a surprise, but nonetheless it is another potential liability for the digital signage industry with legal implications. It goes into effect on December 1st and requires that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations.
- Is your digital signage ENERGY STAR compliant? When is that even a factor?
Believe it or not certain states are starting to enact energy requirements for electronics used in commercial settings. This is inclusive of LCD screens deployed in a building for digital signage. The regulation enacted by California’s Electric Commission is an example of new state laws that will affect what type of screens can be used for digital signage.
- Will your system really integrate and perform as required with the Emergency Notification System?
Unfortunately we live in a world where we can no longer pretend that integration with ENS (emergency notification system) isn’t necessary. While most integrators would tell you that digital signage is never meant to be the only ENS, it should certainly be a complementing solution to whatever the main ENS is. This is where CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) compliance comes into play. It allows your digital signage solution to tie into and have emergency messages triggered by the ENS. In some specific scenarios like Airports if audio is part of your digital signage system, you commonly have to install audio “ducking” equipment so anytime there is a PA announcement your audio will be “ducked.” You can see the liabilities here if this solution isn’t secure and reliable for both the end user or the integrator installing it and saying it will work.
These are just a few of the top liabilities in current era, but there are many more where those came from. What if your monitor falls off the wall and lands on someone? What if the local sign ordinance decides that your images on your sign change too quickly? As you can see, there are a lot of things to watch out for, and there are more serious liabilities, which are enforced by local, state or federal governments. Not only that, but depending upon where you do business, new regulations and requirements may be enacted or change. So, the best advice is to stay informed about what will impact your business.
Author Robert White will present “Emerging Liabilities in Dynamic Digital Signage,” at Digital Signage Expo 2016 on Thursday, March 17 from 9:15-10:15am at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage, go here.
Robert White, manager of convergent technologies at Multi-Media Solutions Inc., focuses on where audiovisual and IT meet. With Multi-Media Solutions since March of 2006, White specializes in digital signage solutions, having been to the highest level of training for many of the top enterprise level digital signage packages available, and he oversees all of Multi-Media Solution’s largest digital signage deployments both domestic and international. He also oversees all of the internal IT support decisions. White contributes back to the industry by leading the Digital Signage Special Interest Group within the USAV Group, and has had the opportunity to be a panel speaker at InfoComm on the Digital Signage Application Showcase Stage. He is CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) certified an ANSI accredited certification. He has also served on DSE’s educational committees, recommending topics and reviewing proposals for the annual DSE conference.
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|Digital Signage and AV in Houses of Worship|
By Mike Lutrell
I say this to myself every day – digital signage is everywhere! It’s found in malls, schools, restaurants, and is continuing to become a part of our everyday lives. Digital signage is also becoming a large part of the worship experience. Regardless if your house of worship has 100 visitors or 5,000, every facility can benefit from implementing digital signage and AV.
Below you’ll read about some of the benefits that houses of worship are enjoying from implementing digital signage and AV.
Too often, we have all leaned over to our fellow worshiper and asked them what was just said. Why? The sound wasn’t quite right for the amount of visitors that day. These issues are slowly starting to fade with more and more houses implementing new sound equipment to help alleviate this problem. Clear and audible sound not only helps worshipers hear your messages, but can also aid when interacting with the audience in a room full of people or when hosting an event where the audience is much larger.
Accommodating Mass Schedules
With the increase in our busy lives, houses of worships have started scheduling multiple gatherings at different times throughout the week to help accommodate their members. Traditional sign boards are just not cutting it anymore when it comes to these mass schedules. Limited spacing and available lighting are just a few of the disadvantages of these traditional signs, so it’s best to consider outdoor digital displays to accommodate your mass schedules. Outdoor digital displays will advertise mass schedules on a rotating basis, as well as announce any last minute cancellations or changes. The general public will be able to see these schedules and other important news that they may not have seen unless they were members. Plus, these signs are visible day or night, a benefit that you don’t have if you are using a traditional sign board.
Indoor Signage Displays
Along with the increase in mass schedules, many houses of worship have evolved to be place for social gatherings, on a regular basis, for many people by hosting events like yard sales, pageants, concerts, plays, etc. Take a look at the photo of the bulletin board; How often have you seen bulletin boards like these in your house of worship? Often times, many announcements and flyers get completely overlooked because the bulletin is overloaded.
This issue can be eliminated by implementing indoor signage displays into your facility. Like the outdoor digital displays, this will allow news and events to be displayed on a rotating basis, giving every event the equal chance to be promoted in a clear and concise way to all visitors.
By providing excellent sound and display, digital signage and AV have helped houses of worship transform their visitors’ experiences. Has your house of worship recently integrated digital signage and AV into their facility? If so, tell us how it has changed your experience.Leave a Comment
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|The Case Study: An AV Integrator’s Best Marketing Tool|
By Gary Kayye
I’ve been teaching a Marketing 101 class at InfoComm for a few years now. And, ADVICE #1 to my students is: Publish case studies.
But, I continue to be amazed at how few AV dealers market their services this way. They’ll spend thousands developing a cool logo, hire interns to use social media, place ads in local business journals, pay web developers to beef up their websites and even still advertise in the Yellow Pages.
Yet, they won’t use the FREE’est (and best) marketing tool they have — using case studies to show what they can do!
Sure, some do, most don’t. Easily 95 percent of AV integrators have either never published a case study or have only done one in the last 5-years.
And, yes, I know the excuses — but, let’s talk truths:
1. The case study should be your PRIMARY way of gaining new business. You see, anyone can say they do AV integration, anyone. And, unfortunately, it’s easy to become a dealer of most AV products sold today — heck, even Amazon sells a ton. But, the differentiator is what you an actually do. Case studies prove your capabilities, show off your worksmanship, are problem/solution oriented (i.e., simple to understand) and are visual — assuming you realize that the best case studies have photos.
2. Yes, professional photography is expensive. But, that’s stupid. Don’t use a professional photographer — use your iPhone. Seriously, it’s good enough. Most of the case studies will not be looked at in print; they’re shown via the web. And, you know the average web resolution of your browser? Well, in case you didn’t know, currently, 68 percent of people browsing the Internet do it at a resolution of 1024×768. And, the other 30-some percent, are MOSTLY at a lower resolution than that. You know the resolution of the camera on an iPhone 5? It’s 3264×2448 — yes, that’s the truth. Oh, and that’s a three-year old phone. Do you know what the resolution of an iPhone 6s camera is? It’s like 4000×3000. Seriously! It’s 4K. So, forget the fancy, expensive, over complicated photography. Use you dang iPhone.
3. Oh, yeah, the client has to give you approval. That’s an EASY problem to solve: just put that in the PROPOSAL, up-front. Tell the client, up-front, that you want to use this as a case study (do it in ALL your proposals). Sure, 10 percent of them might say no but that leaves you 90 percent. I am sure 90 percent represents enough good quality work for you to show off and for POTENTIAL clients to see your capabilities.
4. Speaking of potential clients, case studies spark ideas. How many clients are walking in right now asking for a “digital-canvas” or for their conference room to be multi-image capable? Hardly any. You know why? You can’t ask for something you don’t know exists. And, if you don’t tell them it exists, I promise you they won’t buy it from you.
5. So, now you have a case study, where do you publish it? Well, on your own website, of course. Don’t have a place to publish it on your website, or, costs too much to pay your webmaster to do it? Then, go get a FREE Medium blog and post it there. Sure, link it to your website, but, more importantly, use social media to blast it out there. OK, I understand that you may not understand the art of social media marketing, but we at rAVe do and we have been publishing a blog series (for months now) called “It’s Social Marketing” that will teach you everything you need to know about Social Media Marketing — and it’s free!
So, what are you waiting for! Use case studies to market your AV potential!
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|A Digital Dining Experience|
By Scott Tiner
Several columns ago, I wrote about my experiences with digital signage in a restaurant. This experience included the use of an iPad with a credit card scanner attached. I thought the concept in an airport was very interesting. People are in a rush in airports and may not have time to wait for a waiter to get to them.
Recently, we stopped at the Olive Garden in Augusta, Maine. I was very surprised to see that each table had a digital ordering system. I was not surprised by the technology, I have written about it more than once. I was surprised that the technology was being used in Augusta. Typically, Maine is one of the last places to get new technologies. Also, I was surprised to see it being put to use at the Olive Garden.
Let’s start with the technology at Olive Garden. I understand that the Olive Garden is a chain restaurant, and not typically considered fine dining. Yet, it is not a fast food restaurant, nor is it a bar or pub style restaurant. When people go to the Olive Garden, it is often for a dining experience that is a little more quiet and upscale than say, Applebee’s. People at the Olive Garden go there for some level of experience. This experience is first ruined by having the technology sitting on the table. The tablet was approximately the size of a 9-inch touch panel and was on a restaurant table that sits four people. That takes up a lot of space. Once you get a bowl of salad, breadsticks and plates, there is really no room for the device. I left it on our table for just long enough to be able to play with it a bit. The device allows you to order, pay your bill and even prints out a receipt when you are done. Additionally, it provides games that you can play while you wait for your food. None of these uses were particularly appealing to me. At a restaurant like the Olive Garden, I like having a waiter take my order and serve us. Typically, the customers are not putting down several beers and trying to get the waiter’s attention in order to order another, like may happen in a typical bar or pub style restaurant.
Additionally, as I mentioned, the thing is just TOO big. I asked our waiter to take the device away because it was simply in the way. It is clear to me that the Olive Garden is rolling out the technology in order to cut costs, rather than to add value to the customer.
So, what can a restaurant do that wants to cut costs and do it in a way that the customer will embrace? They need to provide value to the customer. This technology does not provide any extra value to the customer. There is no incentive for me to keep that technology on the table, or interact with it. In fact, quite the opposite. I am incentivized to have it removed. My first suggestion for a place like the Olive Garden is to have them stop providing the technology. People who are going to use such technology already have some in their pockets, in the form of a smartphone. With location services enabled, smartphone users can easily be notified that they are at a location that has an app available. They can download the app, and interact with the restaurant in the same way as the tabletop device. Now, using their own devices they can interact with a menu, get detailed information on dishes. This would provide value, especially to the many customers who now suffer from food allergies. Additionally, the restaurant would be able to collect data on the users and push information to them that could benefit the customer and the restaurant. They may know the customers favorites appetizers and offer them a discount in order to encourage an order being placed. Additionally, they could offer the opportunity for the customer to summons a waiter to the table. This is perhaps one of the biggest frustrations in a restaurant. You just got your food dropped off and the waiter has left, but now you need something. You may not see the waiter for several minutes. An option to ask the restaurant to send someone over would add significant value. Finally, payment is another issue that would add value to such a system. If the smartphone app was used, you will be able to pay immediately when finished. No waiting on the bill and then waiting for it to be run.
In the end, it is always about the customer and adding value in some form for the customer. Wise customers know when a location is asking you to do “their job” for them. Creative restaurants will find ways to add value to the customer, and lower their costs.Leave a Comment
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|Digital Signage Summit MENA is Huge Hit|Digital Signage Summit (DSS) MENA 2015, which took place at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, UAE on 16 November 2015, received widespread acclaim from both delegates and exhibitors who attended the first DSS event to be produced in the region.
The Digital Signage Summit Series is a group of regional events, held in Middle East, Europe and Russia, which explore the business, technology and strategy of the digital signage and digital-out-of-home (DooH) marketplace.
DSS MENA featured 12 speakers, 11 exhibitors, 10 presentations, three panel discussions and attracted 196 delegates – a significantly high number for a launch event. The venue proved an ideal location for networking in and around the one-day event. Two thirds of the attendees were visiting from the UAE, indicating how DSS MENA struck a positive chord with the local market.
Satisfied exhibitors included Sharp, easescreen, NEC Display Solutions, AndSign, Barco, B-Tech Audio Video Mounts, dimedis, Famasete, ONELAN, Signwave and United Entertain.
Delegates and exhibitors also reported positively on the newly introduced matchmaking service, which they used to schedule appointments with people and companies they wanted to connect with. The easy- to-use system utilised the latest scheduling technology to support the creation of business relationships.
The conference itself saw a series of important keynotes, presentations and panel discussions, covering key industry topics like retail signage, guiding and controlling, digital agencies and DooH.
One of many conference highlights was Fredrik Holmvik’s keynote speech about Smart Retail at ICA, Scandinavia’s largest food retailer. ICA introduced digital signage at the POS six years ago. Now, revealed Holmvik, for its second-generation rollout, ICA has analysed its experience across hundreds of stores and adapted the original concept to cover 480 stores with 5,500 screens today. The keynote provided numerous insights into the major lessons learned and how the food retailer dramatically improved sales by harnessing the power of digital signage.
Stewart Caddick, CEO of Dubai Duty Free, discussed its new 80,000 square feet retail space at the new Concourse A to serve Emirates Airline and its A380 passengers. A major development within the new format has been the integration of a significant digital advertising platform comprising over 100 screens and video walls, revealed Caddick.
The organisers also presented the first Digital Signage Awards MENA, which honoured the finest digital signage projects in GCC and MENA.
DSS MENA continues the legacy that invidis consulting started with the launch of its first Digital Signage Conference in Europe in 2007. The 2015 European edition in September attracted almost 500 delegates to Munich, Germany. This was the first since it linked up with Integrated Systems Events, the producers of the Integrated Systems Europe exhibition.
invidis consulting MD Florian Rotberg commented: “DSS MENA 2015 has been a great success. It was our first conference in the UAE, with strong regional representation and nearly 200 delegates. This demonstrated perfectly what the joint venture between invidis and ISE is capable of.”
“The feedback from delegates was very promising and showed that we have adapted to the needs of the MENA region. We are looking forward to creating an even bigger event next year in Dubai, with exciting new event features,” he concluded.
Integrated Systems Events MD Mike Blackman added: “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the third chapter in our joint venture with invidis consulting and look forward to many more in the future. This year’s programme was full of highlights and we witnessed some very important conversations that will help shape digital signage and DooH in the MENA region. We now look forward to DSS events next year at Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam, Netherlands and in Munich, Germany, as well as in Russia and Dubai, and to working together to make DSS Europe 2016 an even bigger success.”
The next DSS MENA will be held in autumn 2016 in Dubai. Further details will be released in the coming months. For more information on Digital Signage Summits, go here.
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|VISIX Intros AxisTV Version 9.3VISIX just announced the latest release of their AxisTV digital signage software. This major update includes:
- Compatibility for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
- Easier reordering of playlist items
- Smarter scheduling tools
- Improved image handling in messages from templates
- Expanded support for Office 365
- More customizable event schedule messages
Version 9.3 also includes updates to the Conference App, with more flexibility for naming rooms for event schedules. And the Design app now has improved previews and image handling, and custom aspect ratios for imported content.
The update is free to Visix clients with a software maintenance agreement.Leave a Comment
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|The ICX Association Opens ELEVATE Award EntriesThe ICX Association (formerly the Digital Screenmedia Association) is making some changes to its awards program. It launched the Awards of Excellence and Crown Awards in 2011 to recognize those doing exemplary work in developing technology and content that created better experience in both brick-and-mortar and mobile environments. Now ICX is launching its Elevate Award, a name chosen because every effort to engage customers in a relevant way has, at its roots, the goal of elevating the customer experience. The mission of the ICX Association is to connect B2C brands to technology that elevates the customer experience.
For the content awards, ICX is handing out Elevate Awards for content in two general categories, with two sub-categories:
- Point-of-Sale – with sub-categories for budgets under $10,000 and over $10,000.
- Point-of-Wait – with sub-categories for budgets under $10,000 and over $10,000
As in years past, content will be evaluated based on the following:
- Did the content meet the stated objectives?
- Was the content engaging?
- Did the content fit the environment?
- Did the content fit the target audience?
Deployment of the Year: Another new offering is the awarding of the Deployment of the Year Elevate Award. This award will go to the deployment that receives the highest average score from our panel of judges.
ICX Influencer of the Year: ICX will also begin handing out in 2016 is the ICX Influencer of the Year award. This honor will go to the individual or organization that is making a significant impact in interactive customer experience.
Awards will be given during a ceremony at the 2016 ICX Summit, June 1-3 in Dallas. Submissions will close on February 1, 2016.
Who should enter?
If you are a B2C brand and have launched a deployment that you are proud of, you should enter. If you are a supplier or agency or integrator, and you’ve worked with a client to develop a great deployment, you too should enter. If you are a brand or agency that has developed stunning content that has elevated your customers’ experience, you should most certainly enter.
If you’ve elevated your game by elevating the customer experience, submit your entry today and share your success with the rest of the world.
2016 ICX Association Elevate Award categories are:
- Best ICX content Point-of-Sale (Total Budget <$10,000) Best ICX content Point-of-Sale (Total Budget >$10,000)
- Best ICX content Point-of-Wait (Total Budget <$10,000) Best ICX content Point-of-Wait (Total Budget >$10,000)
- Best ICX Deployment: Corporate Communication
- Best ICX Deployment: Digital Out-of-Home
- Best ICX Deployment: E-commerce
- Best ICX Deployment: Entertainment/Gaming
- Best ICX Deployment: Financial Services
- Best ICX Deployment: Government/Education/Non-Profit
- Best ICX Deployment: Healthcare
- Best ICX Deployment: Hospitality
- Best ICX Deployment: Restaurant
- Best ICX Deployment: Retail
- Best ICX Deployment: Travel
- Best ICX Deployment: Other (for a vertical market not listed above)
- ICX Deployment of the Year
- ICX Influencer of the Year
To enter or get more information, go here.Leave a Comment
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|Extron Ships 4K HDMI Matrix Switchers with Audio Deâ€‘EmbeddingExtron is shipping its DXP 1616 HD 4K and DXP 168 HD 4K, the first two models in a new series of high performance HDMI matrix switchers for resolutions up to 4K (capable of 4096×2160 @30Hz at 4:4:4 and 4096×2160 @60Hz at 4:2:0). They are HDCP compliant, and support data rates to 10.2 Gbps, Deep Color up to 12‑bit, 3D, and HD lossless audio formats. Extron technologies such as SpeedSwitch, Key Minder and EDID Minder, along with automatic input cable equalization and output reclocking, ensure dependable system operation with exceptional switching speeds and compatibility between devices. These 16×16 and 16×8 matrix switchers also feature built-in audio de-embedding, enabling digital audio from any input to be assigned to the digital or analog stereo outputs for streamlined integration. The DXP HD 4K Series is ideal for use in applications that require reliable, high performance routing of digital video and digital or analog audio signals in professional AV environments.
The DXP HD 4K Series also switches embedded digital audio from HDMI source signals, along with the corresponding video, to any or all of the selected outputs. The technologies and capabilities built into the DXP HD 4K Series ensure high performance AV signal routing, with a fully digital pathway that maintains the highest possible audio and image quality for multiple sources and displays.
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|NEC Display USA Names Jennifer Cheh As VP of MarketingNEC Display Solutions of America just announced the appointment of Jennifer Cheh as vice president of marketing. Cheh previously served as Director of Marketing Operations for North America at Motorola Solutions.
She brings more than 20 years of business-to-business and channel marketing experience to NEC, where she will be responsible for driving marketing strategies, as well as programs and initiatives to generate demand in display solutions.
“Jennifer has a proven track record of developing winning marketing strategies in the technology industry, improving customer demand, and guiding business operations,” said Todd Bouman, president and CEO of NEC Display Solutions. “The way people engage and interact with digital information is evolving rapidly, thanks to NEC’s influence. Under Jennifer’s leadership, NEC will connect with partners and customers in such industries as retail, hospitality, transportation, and education on a profound level, helping them find the display solutions that will enhance their businesses and build deeper relationships.”
Over nearly two decades of service with Motorola, Cheh has developed a diverse background, with expertise in channel development, customer relationship management, and an enthusiastic use of technology to improve marketing and sales processes.
“NEC Display is driving the display industry with its expansive portfolio of products, strategic solutions for partners, and deep network of services and support capabilities,” Cheh said. “NEC is focused not only on offering industry-leading products, but also comprehensive solutions and strategies that ensure its partners maximize their use of technology. I look forward to expanding our connections with customers and partners to bring them innovative digital solutions that will change the ways people interact with information.”
Cheh earned her MBA in finance from Loyola College and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in finance from Pennsylvania State University.
NEC Display is here.Leave a Comment
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|Datapath Adds Pair of Capture Cards to VisionSC LineDatapath Ltd has introduced its latest professional AV capture cards: the VisionSC-HD4+ four channel HDMI capture card and the VisionSC-SDI4, a four-channel 3G-SDI capture card.
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The VisionSC-HD4+can be used to meet a wide range of applications that demand multiple channels of video capture from a single card. It has been developed to suit markets from advanced medical and machine vision capture, military applications and security/surveillance systems, through live events broadcasting and lecture capture, to retail display.
Available with either HDMI or DVI adapters, the VisionSC-HD4+ has four on-board HDMI1.4 capture inputs allowing for two channels of 4096x2160p @ 30fps and two channels providing 1920x1080p @ 60fps. All inputs operate independently of each other to enable four separate video sources (including HDCP protected sources) to be captured and controlled simultaneously. The card also features embedded audio support across all four channels.
Developed as a half-length card (110×177-millimeter including heatsink), the VisionSC-HD4+ will fit almost any systems.
The second new Datapath capture card, the VisionSC-SDI4, has been developed to capture multiple high definition SDI video signals, making it the ideal solution for AV professionals working in the broadcast, live event or surgical markets, or for any SDI capable applications. It provides four 3G-SDI inputs, each one capable of capturing 1920x1080p @ 60fps. All of the capture channels are hardware time-stamped, allowing for larger surfaces to be captured and stitched together seamlessly according to requirements.
The VisionSC-SDI4 includes an eight lane PCIe Gen.3 interface, 768 MB frame buffer memory, Datapath unified Windows and Linux driver support, and full support of the Vision Feature set.
For streaming applications, the VisionSC-SDI4 can be used with Windows Media Encoder to compress and stream captured video. The RGBEasy SDK from Datapath is also available for customers wanting to integrate Datapath cards into their own software environments.
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|BroadSign Upgrades BroadSign Administrator with New User InterfaceFor the first time since entering the market in 2004, BroadSign has redesigned its BroadSign Administrator user interface to deliver a modern and intuitive user experience to global enterprise customers. The upgrade is available at no charge as part of BroadSign’s cloud-based model.
Schedulers are now provided with a more visually appealing and user-friendly experience via faster access to workflows, intuitive graphics and increased customization. Such improvements strengthen BroadSign’s key benefit of helping scaled DOOH media publishers attain operational efficiency.
Viewing enhancements include a map for easy location-based targeting and calendar for simple planning of complex schedules. A new loop share feature further eliminates micromanagement by providing networks the flexibility of automatically allowing different types of content to receive their necessary airtime based on rules set by the scheduler.
BroadSign customers can experience the new user interface immediately by upgrading to Version 11 of BroadSign Administrator. BrightSign is here.Leave a Comment
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|DSE 2016 to Offer Four Professional Certification Programs
Digital Signage Expo (DSE), the world’s largest international trade show and educational conference dedicated to digital displays, interactive technology and digital communications networks, announced today that its 2016 educational conference will feature four individual full-day educational programs for Digital Signage Expert Group (DSEG) certification or renewal credits.
Tuesday, March 15 – 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
- Digital Signage Certified Expert Program (DSCE) – Designed for anyone whose professional involvement requires a full understanding of all the elements of digital signage and the interconnected technologies that produce the images on-screen.
- Digital Signage Display Expert Program (DSDE) – Designed to provide the information to understand the entire calibration process, each display technology and key elements that can be adjusted/calibrated in concert with one another and relative to the environment in which the display exists.
Friday, March 18 – 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
- Digital Signage Content & Media Expert Program (DCME) – Designed for content creators and managers, this program addresses how content fits into a digital signage or DOOH system, what makes content most effective in this medium, the cost of content, and how to measure it.
- Digital Signage Network Expert Program (DSNE) – Designed to provide an introduction to and full understanding of the complexities and what comprises a digital signage network and what is necessary for successful network operation, network communications and good network security policies.
Courses eligible for certification renewal credits at DSE 2016 include these and all 40 approved seminars on the DSE general conference program.
DSEG certification information is available on “The Path to Digital Signage Professional Certification” page on the DSE website. Registration for the pre- or post-show certifications programs, or any of the educational programs at DSE, which are eligible for certification renewal credits, is available here.Leave a Comment
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|Videotel Digital Launches VP71XD Rugged Digital Signage Media PlayerVideotel Digital announced the launch of the VP71XD Industrial Looping Media Player with built in Scheduler to time content. In keeping with the company’s rugged product line, the industrial grade player has an estimated lifespan of over six years of continuous play. Seamlessly looping video, audio, images and photos the digital signage player enhances brand recognition. It also boosts customer experience and information delivery all efficiently read directly from a USB or SD card.
The VP71XD has a built-in scheduler that allows various content to be scheduled for greater impact on passersby. A hands-free digital signage solution, no remote to re-loop content is necessary. Even in the event of a power loss the VP71XD will power on without human interaction. However, for simple navigation and modification a remote control comes with the media player.
While the industrial audio video player is a stand-alone option it’s also Interactive. It’s compatible with Videotel Digital’s line of interactive motion, wave, LED push button and weight sensors. The VP71XD will vertically load audio and video to any monitor or screen. This is an essential marketing tool for exhibits and trade shows, museums, transit advertising, showrooms and the like.
More information is here.Leave a Comment
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|How We Built an Application Development Program|
By Aaron Bach
Four Winds Interactive
It all started with an art museum.
About two years ago, our CEO, David Levin, stood at my desk and looked at a custom sign build I had created for the Denver Art Museum (a local client of ours and one that, incidentally, our new building backs up to). The build featured some exciting, compelling functionality: sign-to-sign wayfinding, exhibit promotions and dynamic pricing. As I demoed it to David, he said something that would fundamentally alter the course of FWI: “We should be promoting this application to every single museum in the country.”
Initially, I didn’t catch the weight of his comment. After all, promoting our best work – meeting room signs, flight boards, virtual concierges, etc. – to entire industries was something we did every day. David wasn’t talking about that. He wasn’t implying that we ought to create a “Custom Museum Application Statement of Work” for every museum in the country.
Rather, his vision was something far greater: we ought to sell this exact application (along with a way to customize key aspects) to every museum in the country. This was a radical notion. It scared me. To date, our software platform had been focused on custom digital signage and content management. We had always done things a certain way, and this wasn’t it. How could we possibly accomplish this? Could the software even do it? What did this mean for FWI long term? Who would manage a program like this?
So, like any careful, measured, responsible technology leader, I thought about all this in the span of three seconds, swallowed my concerns, and boldly proclaimed, “Let’s do it.” At the same time, I remember thinking, “Aaron, don’t you dare regret this.”
Fast forward. After a year of “working group” status, we launched FWI’s Application Development program in January of 2015. And now, as we near the end of our first official year in operation, I want to reflect on some of the big things we, as a team, have learned along the way.
Forming a Development Team
The construction of a competent software team is never easy. In our case, however, we had a unique challenge: for the first 9.5 years of FWI’s history, our Sign Developers had gotten used to building one-off digital signs. SOWs would come in, meetings would be held, and they would begin building. When a particular project was complete, they’d move on. We gave little thought to previous sign builds because there were so many to focus on in front of us.
Task one on our plate was to expand. Principally, this meant that our developers had to change their ways of thinking. It turned out to be a hard transition.
When you begin to build any software for a one-use scenario, you naturally go down the most direct path: you build it to work for that environment and you pay little attention to anything else. That wouldn’t fly with our group. Ours was a harder job: we had to design applications that would work for anyone. They had to configurable; they had to be skinnable; they had to combine our best practices with the flexibility that “app users” came to expect. In short, our developers had to be a lot smarter about how they built things.
To accommodate this change, we decided to pursue a strategy that would allow it to occur. Early on, we adapted Agile Scrum as our development methodology. Although it provided several tactical benefits, one, in particular, stood out to me: it didn’t require that we “get it right” immediately. We could try things; we could iterate quickly; we could collect feedback and rapidly adjust. I believe we flourished more quickly because we didn’t demand that our “end-all-be-all” product be on the shelves on Day 1.
Now, a year later, our team is performing at a level I didn’t imagine was possible. We are operating on all cylinders, so to speak. The lesson learned? Perfection, although a wonderful thing to strive for, can crush anything that’s trying to change.
Pivoting a Platform
Traditionally, Content Manager focused on just that: content management. Although it might have carried other responsibilities over the years, “application development” wasn’t high on that list. Given that our client base was used to this product, we faced a unique challenge. How were we supposed to roll out a brand new paradigm using the same tools as before?
In the early days of AppDev, we created “sort-of” applications. We took our best sign builds, exported them as .ds files (a proprietary format for Content Manager), and stuck them on a shared network drive. The thinking went like this: “When we need to implement another meeting room/virtual concierge/etc., we’ll go to our shared drive and grab the one we’ve already made!”
At the time, we thought this was revolutionary; in retrospect, it suffered from some core problems. Principle among these was ease-of-use: “configuration” of these applications meant opening up an Excel spreadsheet, editing a bunch of values, saving it somewhere, then deploying a version of our .ds file that pointed at that Excel spreadsheet. Clean? Useful? Intuitive? Not even close.
So, we did something bold: we went back to our leadership team and said, “Content Manager needs to have the ability to produce and consume real apps.” We outlined our needs: easy-to-configure, not overwhelming, documented, and more. We wanted a distant cousin to an iOS or Android app architecture and we needed it to live within our ecosystem.
I’ll never forget the email I got from David one morning in late 2013: all it said was “FYI :-)”. Below, I saw an email exchange with our CTO. “Apps as entities” within Content Manager was something that he’d been thinking about for a while. More importantly, he really liked the idea. Right before my eyes, the dream was coming true: Content Manager was going to be enhanced to build the real, reusable applications that we so strongly desired.
What lesson did we learn? Be bold and go after something big. Had we constrained ourselves by the old way of doing things, we might never have progressed past the “working group” stage. By going for the “big ask,” we catapulted ourselves to a new level and began to inspire all of FWI to orient towards it.
Building an App Store
Around the same time that development began on Content Manager, I had a sidebar discussion with our Core Product Director about where we were going to house the apps that we planned to create. Our shared network drive was obviously no good: we needed something that was customer-facing. We tossed around several ideas; then came another pivotal statement in our group’s formation: “You know, what we really need is an app store.”
I was elated at the thought. There was only one problem: I had no clue how to build, maintain, and run an app store.
I did the first thing I could think of: I Googled “how to build an app store” and searched. Not surprisingly, this approach didn’t yield much; most literature (if you could call it that) on the subject focused on technology, infrastructure requirements, user authentication, etc.. We knew all this. What we didn’t know was how to run a store as a business. How do you charge for each app? What do you charge? How do you collect feedback? How do you choose what apps to feature on the store’s homepage? On and on it went. I remember dreaming about speaking to executives from Apple and Google on their stores. All I heard back was gobbledigook.
So, in a truly agile fashion, we winged it. We came up with a basic UI, we wrote down a few processes around its maintenance, and started communicating the idea of the “FWI Store” to our internal teams. Within a few short weeks, our Sales, Legal, and Accounting teams had come up with mechanisms to incorporate the Store into our agreements and SOWs. We started to pitch it to selective clients (and only a few at a time). As time passed, we expanded the Store more and more. Before we knew it, a mature app store was up and running.
Where’s the proof, you ask? Last week, in five days’ time, we had 112,000 logins to the FWI Store. Not bad for a concept that got its start through a sidebar conversation and some furious Googling.
The lesson? Don’t immediately think about replicating the successful model of a distantly-related “cousin organization.” In retrospect, we didn’t need to deduce how Apple and Google operate their stores; our intention was never to be Apple or Google. In pursuing our own revolution, we found a sense of the unknown and, more importantly, our ability to overcome it.
The Road Ahead That’s Year One of FWI’s App
Dev Department and the FWI Store. I can barely believe the road that we’ve taken. Our baby has grown up and is starting to flourish.
The most exciting part? Even though I know the tactical nature of what we’ll try to accomplish in Year Two and beyond, I have little insight into how the journey will look. There’s uncertainty in the unknown. There will be challenges, difficulties, and long days ahead. We may face complete revolution a time or two more before this is all said and done.
You know what, though? I’m thrilled. Our group is pursuing something special and they’re doing it in a powerful way. When I think of all the places we could be, I realize that the only place I want to be is right here.Leave a Comment
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