Articles and Whitepapers
DSF Members are invited to submit articles and whitepapers to be posted in this section. Submit your article here.
Many people think of fans as essential components for cooling heat-generating electronics devices such as digital signage media players. Fans are loud and make devices bigger than they need to be, but they’re a necessary evil, right? Wrong! As far as media players are concerned, they are actually completely unnecessary and a telltale sign of inefficient design.
I am a firm believer that fans should be avoided at all costs. Why? Let me count the ways… First of all, a fan is a moving part, therefore a potential point of failure. When a fan does fail, you probably won’t know until the entire device overheats and fails. Second, the fan itself requires power, which generates additional heat. Lastly, fans are not an essential part of electronics if the device is designed properly. They add no operative value – they’re simply a cooling system. That’s why you’ll never find a fan inside a BrightSign media player – a policy that I am passionate about. Our Series 3 players are more powerful than ever before, yet still there are no fans.
Specifically in digital signage, there are simple ways to avoid the need for a fan. Start by designing products that produce less heat in the first place. Product designers should be sure not to use bigger processors than necessary. Although it’s counter-intuitive, using a lightning-fast general-purpose processor may slow the system, rather than speed it up. Using appropriately specified processors with efficient, dedicated software can enable all the functionality required. A purpose-built, commercial-grade OS (rather than a consumer-grade OS, like Android or Windows, which is multipurpose and clumsy) can drive low-powered efficiency. Use fast, solid-state storage that can be returned to a low-power idle mode quickly. There are many strategic ways to produce less heat and creative methods to dissipate heat that do not require a flimsy, breakable fan.
If you are considering a player or SoC that needs a fan to cool it, be sure to also consider the potentially much higher TCO as a result of the fan breaking and the system overheating. That’s simply not a risk we’re comfortable passing on to our customers.
About the Author
BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings joined BrightSign in August 2009 while it was still a division of Roku Inc. In late 2010 with digital signage activities growing so rapidly, BrightSign became a separate firm. The holder of eight U.S. patents, he also has a history of tech industry leadership, including as president of mp3 pioneer Rio.
SignStix® Takes Major Step Towards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) with Advanced Integration Features for Truly Intelligent Digital Campaigns
As part of SignStix’s® upcoming 2.10 software release, the team behind the award-winning digital engagement platform have developed a set of brand new integration features that enable organisations to build their own intelligent digital experiences without technical restriction.
This presents new, exciting opportunities for brands looking to craft dynamic digital campaigns that go far beyond the realms of what standard digital signage platforms can offer.
“We really have reached a significant milestone in the development of the platform and we’re extremely excited to launch this feature set, because we realise the immediate benefits this will bring to organisations, regardless of size or sector,” said Aneysha Wakelin, Head of Marketing at SignStix®.
“Whilst the SignStix platform is still a perfect fit for typical digital signage use cases, brands are now able to address specific communications challenges that were previously difficult to overcome, whilst uncovering new opportunities for digital engagement across the business.
In the transport world keeping your customers up to speed with the latest information relevant to them to make their journey and travel experience a good one – ideally so that they return – is crucial. Traveling is a matter of getting people to places as fast and efficiently as possible, but the whole experience should include so much more, whether it is for business or pleasure.
Digital signage is emerging as a way of enhancing that travel experience from a customer point of view, while also making the process easier for transport employees. It is even possible to shrink perceived waiting times down with the use of digital signage.
By: Earl Naegele, Managing Director of Commercial Sales, Peerless-AV
As we near the holiday season, airport travel is going to spike, typically causing added anxiety for passengers. However, as technology continually advances, airports can utilize various solutions to help alleviate some of the major pain points of traveling – such as navigating a crowded and confusing airport, printing boarding passes, and more.
Interactive Solutions to Enhance the Customer Experience
Implementing digital signage is one surefire way to simplify the passenger experience. Through the use of digital solutions, airports can share updated and accurate flight information, provide interactive mapping for wayfinding, and reduce perceived wait times for customers with shared entertainment. Interactive, self-serve kiosks can also allow users to check themselves in, print tickets, and locate facilities. By empowering the passenger, these interactive solutions can also reduce staffing and operational costs.
Airports often experience heavy levels of foot traffic, specifically in entryways, security lines, and boarding areas. It can be difficult to grasp the passenger’s attention with so many activities occurring at the same time, but these are also great places to share pertinent information. Digital signage displays offer the opportunity to constantly change content, and provide an eye-catching element that static signage simply cannot do.
In addition to helping travelers stay informed, digital signage in airport settings can also benefit retailers, as ad options are endless with digital signage. Airports house a plethora of vendors and shops, including food and drink stands, restaurants, gift shops, apparel stores, and more. In utilizing digital signage, retailers have the ability to display multiple ads on one display and the opportunity to reach many different audiences.
Digital signage also reduces operational costs in that static signage needs to be continually printed, hung, and taken down again and again – digital signage can instantly be changed to reflect new sales and promotions.
What is ADA Compliance?
Beyond the vast benefits of integrated digital solutions in airport settings, it’s important to understand the qualifications and requirements that go into this type of product – specifically ADA compliance.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 in order to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal access and opportunity for those with mental and physical disabilities in the areas of employment, public entities, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and more. Also, in 2010, additional provisional regulations were added to review the area of Accessible design – to ensure that public spaces have, among other accessibility features, clear pathways and curbed ramps.
What does this mean for airports?
For airport settings, these laws impact the planning of digital signage applications in various ways. For instance there are restrictions surrounding how far a video wall can extend from the wall, as well as how low they can hang. There are also guidelines when it comes to touch-enabled solutions and accessibility.
ADA Compliance Checklist
To ensure an airport’s digital signage solutions are ADA-compliant, integrators should look to the following:
Video Walls: Video walls that are between 27″ and 80″ off of the floor must be less than 4″ off of the wall to allow for the visually impaired to safely, and easily walk past.
Before slim and sleek displays were available, large and bulky displays made this regulation a bit more complicated. Many times integrators were tasked with recessing the display into the wall, which can take quite a bit of time and is costly.
With the introduction of slimmer and lighter displays, like Samsung’s commercial display units that measures about 2″ or less in depth, integrations are much easier. Used alongside mounts that offer easy installation and maintenance, like the Peerless-AV SmartMount® Full-Service Thin Video Wall Mount, it is much easier to meet ADA compliance.
Kiosks / Interactive Digital Displays: ADA regulations also apply to the construction and functionality of digital signage kiosks. If a device has touch screen features, the maximum touch point cannot exceed 48″, with a max reach of 10″. A reach larger than this requires a shorter kiosk.
With enhanced technology, integrating ADA-compliant kiosks has become easier. Advanced IR sensors are used to determine height and cater the placement of touch items on displays in accordance with ADA regulations.
A multitude of additional options exist for compliance in digital signage, including voice responsive software, Braille keyboards, and tactile signs.
For devices that offer payment functions, the ADA guidelines require that the numeric keys have a raised dot on the “5” key, and that the function keys visually pop out from the background.
Selecting & Positioning the Right Hardware
In any project, whether it’s for an airport install or elsewhere, it’s important to understand the cost implications that different solutions will incur. While it may be appealing to select a display at a lower price point, the result can be added maintenance and servicing fees, as well as needing a totally new, replacement unit.
Another point to consider is, how accessible is your display? Is it easily reachable on the wall, or is it on a high ceiling? Can the software be remotely updated? All these considerations will impact the total operational cost. Placement and product both have to be considered when implementing new digital signage.
Energy consumption of the display will also impact the overall operational cost – will the display be powered by an LED or LCD display? LCD displays, which utilize the light modulating properties of crystals, do indeed use less energy than traditional tube displays. However, by moving to LED displays rather than LCD displays, airports can find anywhere from a 30%-60% reduction in energy and power consumption. This can be a huge savings for applications with multiple displays.
Overall Benefits to Implementing an ADA-Compliant Solution
Technology has become an integral part of most consumers’ every day life, helping to solve and alleviate life’s issues, and the opportunities for airports are endless. Digital signage can provide personalized guest services like wayfinding and ticketing information, while simultaneously helping to market retailers within the terminals.
Along with the endless opportunities that digital signage offers, installers have to be conscious that the display meets the needs of all air passengers. By keeping ADA compliance regulations in mind, digital signage applications can accommodate all users and enhance the travel experience.
About the Author:
Earl Naegele, Managing Director of Commercial Sales, Peerless-AV
As Managing Director of Commercial Sales, Earl Naegele is responsible for the management of Peerless-AV’s National Accounts and Pro AV Sales teams. As the primary point on contact for all Commercial Sales at Peerless-AV, his core mission is to manage and streamline the sales efforts to key customers.
Prior to his current position, Naegele served as Director of Professional AV Sales, where he oversaw the Pro AV Sales division, including managing key relationships with Peerless-AV’s largest Pro AV customers, collaborating on Business Development strategies, and originating vertical market programs.
Naegele has extensive award-winning experience in the audio-visual industry and is one of the original founders of AVAD. He brings a unique background to Peerless-AV, having worked in every role across the AV supply chain, from retail/wholesale sales to rep/distribution principal to strategy consultant.
Naegele has a BA from Kansas State University in Computer Engineering. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and fitness.
By Robert Suffoletta, Logic Supply
The digital signage industry is booming. Analysts predict an 8.94 percent compound annual growth rate between now and 2020, and that by 2023 the market will be worth $32.84 Billion. The expansion of signage implementation throughout industry has been a major contributor to this exponential growth, with displays being used by businesses of every shape and size for a huge range of content delivery needs. Of course, Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising is still a significant part of the overall signage equation, but increasingly digital displays are being utilized for applications far beyond customer acquisition, and in locations that would challenge, or even destroy, a typical media player.
Static and interactive digital displays are popping up everywhere from medical facilities and manufacturing floors, to transportation hubs and outdoor events (Figure 2). These varied applications for digital content delivery bring with them a host of logistical and environmental complications that have required signage professionals to reevaluate the hardware they utilize to convey their message.
But what makes an industrial digital media player different, and what factors play into an educated hardware choice for signage integrators and ISVs?
A Different Look and Feel
In the past, there’s been an attitude toward disposability in much of the digital media player space, with entry level device builders suggesting that when a media player fails, the user simply throw it away and replace it. But that assumes a certain level of nonchalance toward the information being displayed. Industrial digital signage players aren’t throw away devices because the content they’re displaying isn’t disposable. In fact, it’s often mission-critical.
Perhaps the most striking difference between consumer-grade digital media solutions and industrial media players is the way they’re constructed (Figure 1). The vast majority of commercially available media players are built using some combination of plastics and polycarbonate. While these materials are relatively inexpensive, they don’t offer much in the way of durability, particularly in challenging environments. Industrial media players, which may be subject to extreme temperatures, moisture, vibration or even impact forces, most commonly utilize all metal enclosures and internal components designed specifically for industrial use.
Industrial media players may also look very different than their commercial counterparts. With enclosure extrusions designed to dissipate heat, and form factors tailored to installation behind low profile displays or within electrical cabinets, industrial signage devices don’t always conform to the nondescript black box archetype. The connectivity options available on industrial media players also tend to take into account the variety of output devices they may need to interface with. In addition to HDMI, USB, and DisplayPort (of various flavors), it’s not uncommon to find VGA or even DVI connections to accommodate legacy displays that may be part of the existing infrastructure at a given installation location.
A hardware crash at a retail facility utilizing a digital signage solution might be inconvenient or embarrassing for the proprietor, but imagine the potential ramifications to loss of signal at a high-paced manufacturing plant or, worse still, a busy medical facility. Reliability is paramount in any industrial signage application, making attention to detail and careful engineering of industrial media players vital to their longevity. For signage integrators installing hardware at client sites, a single failure that results in the need to roll a support truck can cost the company hundreds of dollars, not to mention the potential lost revenue for its customer.
With outdoor signage deployments becoming more commonplace, systems designed for industrial use are employing components rated for extreme operating temperatures, from -25 ºC (-13 ºF), all the way up to +70 ºC (+155 ºF) or more. In addition to outdoor use, these wide operating temperature ranges provide integrators the flexibility to install systems in cars, busses, trains, and ships—where they’re commonly used for everything from passenger information delivery to infotainment and wayfinding.
In addition to environmental resistances, many industrial signage players limit, or even completely forgo, moving parts. Solid state storage offers faster read and write speeds to allow for smooth content delivery while also eliminating the noise and data corruption that can result from spinning hard drives. The most reliable breed of industrial media players also leverage fanless, solid state cooling solutions. Removing a cooling fan from the equation can result in a digital media player with zero moving parts, greatly improving overall system reliability, especially for installations where the hardware is subject to vibration.
Above and beyond fanless cooling, some industrial media player hardware manufacturers take the extra step to create systems that are also fully sealed against contaminant ingress, with no vents or extraneous openings in the enclosure. Quick serve restaurants who employ digital signage displays for their interior menu boards are increasingly turning to fanless solutions to prevent dust, grease, and moisture from reaching sensitive hardware components and causing failures.
Constructed for the Long Term
One important aspect of industrial signage that frequently goes overlooked is the concept of life cycle. While the reliability of the hardware contributes to its life span (how long it’s expected to operate without a failure), life cycle refers to the manufacturer’s commitment to produce and support a given device.
In the world of consumer technology, frequent hardware turnover due to obsolescence makes life cycle less of a concern, but for industrial applications that may depend on a system to operate for three to five years or more once installed, the ability to order additional devices or get support for any necessary updates is paramount. When dealing with international or safety certifications, even slight changes to a device configuration can cause huge logistical headaches, not to mention the significant costs of re-certification. The ability to order a locked-down configuration for the foreseeable future of a project is a huge advantage industrial media players offer over their consumer-grade counterparts. In addition to life cycle management, industrial media player manufacturers frequently offer more inclusive and longer warranty support, providing additional peace of mind to signage integrators.
The Bottom Line
The continued evolution of digital content delivery is changing the way signage professionals evaluate the hardware platforms they utilize. Even the most user-friendly, fully featured software suite is still only as viable as the hardware it’s running on. The widespread use of digital media players in increasingly challenging environments puts pressure on integrators to ensure the hardware they select will survive the rigors of installation, no matter where that might be. Ultimately, the quality of your industrial digital signage hardware should always match the gravity of your message.
Article originally posted on the Embedded Systems Engineering website.
About the Author
Robert Suffoletta is a Visual Communications Specialist at Logic Supply, an Intel IoT Solutions Alliance member. A 20-year veteran of the computer industry with more than 10 years’ experience in providing hardware solutions to the digital signage market, he is dedicated to matching clients building innovative signage solutions with the most capable and reliable hardware for their unique installation.
Digital signage in stadiums and other event facilities is not new. For the better part of the past decade, venues have been swapping out aging, legacy static signage and CRTs in favor of sleek new digital signage to enhance the fan experience. But even more interesting to me is to see how digital signage is being used in new venues. We’re talking about much more than digital menu boards here – we’re seeing digital signage as an integral component of the stadium’s conceptual design, long before construction begins.
Our players are working hard behind the scenes at many new major sports complexes – powering menus, scoreboards, luxury suite signage, parking lots and even displays located in the restrooms. Digital signage is EVERYWHERE in these new venues. Late-model LED displays are an increasingly popular option utilized in stadiums, from individual displays to massive installations like the stunning 9,000-square-foot LED video mesh on the exterior facade of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
New DSF Member, Advantech Corp recently published a white paper discussing the context, solutions, consequences and benefits of the digital signage industry. An excerpt of the whitepaper is included below.
“Digital Signage is a powerful lever for communication which uses information technology, the Internet of Things and smart devices (screens, networks, content servers). It can assemble and broadcast continuously all types of information (image, video, text feeds, etc.) on networked screens which can be installed in both public spaces and private settings. Screens viewed by specific groups (employees, customers, associates, suppliers, etc.) can broadcast information relating to, for example, the internal workings of a company or organization. Such information can be enriched with more general information, such as the time, weather forecasts, traffic reports and news.
The numerous benefits of Digital Signage are continuous and dynamic updating of information, customization in real time, instant broadcasting of messages to manage crises, reduced environmental footprint, drastic reduction in the use of paper, a modern image and, above all, improved communications thanks to the attraction and stimulation inherent in the images shown on the screens. The power of image over text has been widely documented (cf. Ralph Haber, 1960). Digital Signage enables the user to present all types of information through dynamic images and, consequently, to increase adhesion and memorization.”
IHS and the Digital Signage Federation have partnered together to offer DSF Members exclusive access to IHS’s Digital Signage Industry Tracker Executive Summary report each quarter.
For nearly 50 years, IHS has assisted customers harness the power of information to improve their business results. IHS seeks to provide its customers with the technical information, tools, and operational and advisory services necessary to help them make critical business decisions, maximize their core business processes, and improve productivity.
The Executive Summary report available to DSF members highlights research and findings pertaining to:
- Hardware (media players, set-top boxes, & PCs)
- Services (installations, project management, & technical support)
- Media sales
The summary reports on the growing sectors within the industry and across verticals such as retail, hospitality, healthcare, and public spaces.
Download the Q2-2017 Executive Summary by clicking the member access button below.Member Access
New DSF Member Userful Corporation has published a white paper discussing the process of making high-end video wall controllers simple, cost effective and flexible. An excerpt of this white paper is included below.
“Use of a Local Area Network (LAN) as a delivery mechanism is an obvious choice for a standardized and cost-effective approach to video walls. Delivering a video wall over a standard LAN reduces the amount of specialized knowledge, equipment installers and support teams need. Network equipment is standardized and easily available, and its use significantly reduces deployment costs. It also provides customers with unique flexibility benefits. However, until now, approaches to deploying video walls over the network have had performance and scalability limitations. The innovations behind Userful Network Video Wall change that.”
By Doug Bannister, CEO & CTO of Omnivex Corporation
“The modern world runs on data. It is the most significant and valuable commodity on Earth, and is the reason Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The core business of these and other tech titans is amassing and consolidating data that can then be sold for use by other companies such as advertisers. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion isn’t merely a play for grocery dollars. It offers the online company a brick-and-mortar presence in which it can explore retail analytics, customer traffic management, and other data driven experiments to gain insights into in-store consumer behavior that can be transferred to online applications.”
To read the entire article, please visit https://www.omnivex.com/company/blog/data-drives-decisions.