Freshmen’s Guide to Digital Signage for a Small and medium enterprises
9 aspects to need be taken into consideration to build your own digital signage solution
What is a digital signage display?
Digital advertising displays or digital sign screens are a kind of electronic signage display designed for commodity advertisements, upsells, brand promotions, restaurant menus, public information and messages.
These digital display screens are widely existed in retail shops, hotels, restaurants, corporate buildings, cafes, and bars. In general , they use a tv, LFD (large format display), LCD (liquid crystal display), or LED (light-emitting diode) Monitor to show and run media through a type of mini-computer/media player connected via HDMI.
You can also implement display units with an build-in player or smart TVs with inbuilt Android OS as an all in one solution.
Digital signage media players are produced with a few various types OS (operating system) such as Android, Windows, Chrome, iOS, or Linux. It depends on which signage software you want to use for your system and what functionality it requires.
9 elements should be taken into consideration when begin your digital signage project.
1. What is the target of using digital signage and budget of each digital signage?
Digital signage is widely used in multiple applications in these days, with the fast dropping of screen price. You may find digital signage in many areas, including restaurants, shopping malls, cafés, churches, schools and corporates.
Different facilities may have various requirements on digital signage and the budget may varies accordingly. Business may focus on return of investment, schools may highlight easy maintenance while corporate may emphasis better communication and give employee sense of belonging.
The budget of each digital signage also influence your choice. Many budget sensitive projects prefer to setting up digital signage solution via upgrading existing commercial TV or android smart TV or monitor to digital signage network by Sysview digital signage software since these devices are very accessible and it only need less than 100usd/screen to build a digital signage network.
2. How many digital signage terminals in your network ?
Managing single digital signage screens is entirely different with managing hundreds of screens, since the requirements of manage different quantity terminals are various.
If you only need to manage one or two digital signage screens, you may change the content displayed on screen just by a plug-in USB disk.
Once you have dozens of digital signages, there is high possibility that they are located in different locations . Some may be placed beside lobby, some may be parked beside window and some may stay on cashier. Upgrading dynamic content of these digital signage screens via USB disk isnot viable in this case since it is too labor consumption . Choosing a digital signage software, capable of manage the content centrally is absolutely necessary.
When the digital signage terminals rise to 1000 and more, you need a powerful digital signage software, capable of manage unlimited terminals and with several layers of management . In this way, you may divide the digital signages to several groups and assign multiple people to manage their own group individually. Sysview digital signage software supports group management feature, with which you may setup groups, assign licenses to each group, appoint user of each group. The users can manage the digital signage of their own group ,including assign dynamic content ,setup schedule and audit the layout and schedule of the end user. There introduces how Sysview manage the digital signage network: http://www.sysembed.com/Managing-your-Network.html
3.What digital signage software should I use?
I have found the versions of Sysview digital signage software to be great for minor projects and testing when you are first starting, since it is a cloud based digital signage and support free trial period as long as 30 days.
You may need to do a lot of testing and research to find the perfect digital signage software for you. Fortunately, some software providers offer you free trials, but they always come with some limitations. Some of these software are only compatible with a specific type of OS.
Things to look out for in software are:
• Rebrand/OEM or not
Some clients may ask for host digital signage software on their own server and rebrand it. In this case, Sysview is a good choice since it not only provide this option, but also can help you rent server(you may choice the server you prefer, Amazon AWS,Azure or IBM cloud server etc) and maintenance server.
For the clients who need digital signage software with their own brand and without hosting a server, Sysview also provides solution for you. In Sysview’s local partner plan, it provide option with which the local partner can setup their own brand without renting a server.
• Requirement on hardware ,including OS compatibilities
Many digital signage software place high demand on hardware, which may cause some system compatibility issue . With Sysview digital signage software, the user can free from the compatible issue since its V4.33 version can compatible to any android hardware, no matter it is Android 4.0 or higher.
• OS compatibilities
• Cloud digital signage software or on-premise one
Sysview digital signage software provides both. You may choose from using SaaS Sysview digital signage software, hosting it on your server .
• Free digital signage software or charged
Sysview digital signage software provides free trial account,with which you can get 2 licenses and run it on your existing Android device forever. You may get free trial account here: http://www.sysviewsignage.com/portal.html
• Enterprise version or individual version, which means how many digital signage players the software can support
Sysview digital signage software is a good choice for enterprise version with support to 1000+ terminals
• Cloud server speeds
• Upload media storage space and upload maximum size
• Ease of usability
• Features on the software, including drag and drop features ,widgets, social media etc.
• Scheduling capabilities
• Caching feature (ability to store and play the data offline on the device for cases where the internet cuts off).
• Management feature
This is essential when you have hundreds and thousands digital signage screen terminals to be managed. With Sysview management function, you may divide digital signage to multiple groups and assign each a user to each groups. As a group administrator, you may create new users, assign licenses to each user, monitor all screens in your account .
• User friendly interface
To beginners, user friendly interface can help them to understand the system quickly and setup their first digital signage high efficiently.
• Extra features like a clock display, weather, RSS news feeds, countdown timer, display splitting, etc. sysviewsignage.com covers many of these features plus more on the free version. If you plan to do some testing, you should try this software out. You may get Sysview digital signage software app from Android market or download from Sysview webpage http://www.sysviewsignage.com/portal.html after apply for a free digital signage trial account .
4.What Digital Signage hardware and media player should I use?
Protective casing - will it be located indoors or outdoors? Once the digital signage is placed outdoor, it should have a robust case with water-proof ,dust-proof feature. In addition .The container should also have holes or fans to allow the display and player’s heat to spread out, which is important to make it work stable in hot summer.
Display - This could be a LCD or LED type screen. If you decide to install an external media player to the display, make ensure that the display has the correct connection input (HDMI, VGA, DVI, etc.).
Mounting brackets - think about where you’re installing your digital signage display. On the wall, floor, ceiling, or will it be mobile. Each of these types of mounting will require different mounting techniques.
Media player - Will you be implement an Android box, Android All-in- one, Windows mini computer, Windows All-in-one, Apple TV box, or a Raspberry Pi player? Which content are you going to play on digital signage screen, just audio, video and text info, or need to show content from living stream such as real time TV program, or content from serial port ,such as queue information, ticket information etc?
Windows OS used to be the more dominant, most familiar, and most reliable with users. Still, recently, Android has rolled out as cost-effective and more simple for installations. Android systems was less reliable in the past but its stability has been improved greatly . Once the installation room is very limited, Sysview CMP0 digital signage player is a good choice, since it is an Android dongle player. You may finish installation just by plug-and-play.
Once the digital signage network is implemented in clubs or bars, where people together to watch football matches, Sysview is a idea choice, since it can display living TV stream source from its HDMI-IN port and show the living stream with other info such as menu and price at the same time. This one can also provide ticket information ,making people know how long they need to wait to get their turn while display video/image , since this unit include a serial port .
Implementing Linux with a Raspberry Pi may be difficult to people who have no experience with it before. But, it is in general cheaper and customizable with free open source resources. Stay away from this if you want to avoid a steep learning curve and headaches trying to troubleshoot technical issues.
Chrome OS players are relatively new but perform faster than windows and have regular security push updates.
iOS is expensive and not widely used due to its price but is stable and easy to use if you are in the Apple ecosystem.
Cabling and power - Plan power points for the TV and players. Suppose you plan to have the digital signage in a different room from the screen for more straightforward service and maintenance. Consider using an HDMI to cat converter/extender.
5- How will you connect your media player to the internet?
Plan whether the device you choose will need Cat5/Cat6 cabling, 3g/4g, or Wi-Fi for internet connection. Suppose you plan to use a cloud server or remote desktop support software.
In that situation, you will most definitely need decent internet speed from Wi-Fi or network cable. Also, you might want to consider having two connection types as a backup.
6- How will you be installing your digital advertising display screen?
Will it be wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, floor-mounted, or mobile?
Think about this when you inspect on site. You will need to take into consideration the material of the wall structure. Is it made of brick, cement, fiber cement boards, or wood?
Of course, each of these will require different mounting techniques and have different weight loading capabilities. You can contact a tradesperson for this if you are unsure.
You will also need to consider extra electrical points and data for your equipment. You should think about having an on/off switch on the wall that can turn off all your gear in one circuit.
7- What content management tools will you be using for your digital signage display or menu?
Think implementing a specific designing software such as Adobe to design content and upload it onto your server. Will you be utilizing an all-in-one software that can create content and deploy it directly to the screens?
If you plan to use separate software, consider the file format you will save your media. Also, check if the media file is too large to upload into your signage software.
In Sysview digital signage solution, the maximum file size is 40Mb. But you host the digital signage software on your server, this limitation is removed and you can set the maximum size of each file on your own server.
Here’s a case study:
You have created content with adobe premiere and export it into Mp4 format, 80Mb in size. Then try to upload it into Sysview signage software, which can only upload a full-size file of 40Mb. For this to work, you would have to split your video file into two parts of 40Mb to upload it and then join them back up inside your signage software.
8- How will you service your digital signage display?
You will need to think about what happens if the internet disconnect. The player breaks down, or maybe the media player updates during service. Can you remote on from a different location?
Do the player and software store the presentation and schedule and keep playing when no internet available? (most software do) Can you access to the device when it malfuntion and needs to be replacement ?
In Sysview digital signage software, the content will be stored on cache of each display terminal and be displayed per schedule when there is no internet connection. The internet connection is only required when upload layout and schedule. After that, Sysview digital signage software can display the layout per schedule even without internet.
9- What equipment will you need to start your digital signage project?
The equipment I use for my projects is from Sysview digital signage. I have had no significant problems with their products .
Digital Signage Media Players ,for scenarios that you already have screens or monitors
• CMP0 compact digital signage Player,for application with limited room for installation
• CMP1 mainstream digital signage player, with 1 AV port and 1 HDMI port , for display same content on 2 screens
• CMP2 advanced digital signage player, with 1 HDMI-in port and 1 serial port, for display living-TV stream and ticket info
All-in-one Digital Display Solutions
• AD320WT digital signage screen ,32” Android based digital signage screen ,with build in Android player and digital signage software Software Solutions
Digital signage software(Android), for case that you already have smart TV or Android terminal. Sysview digital signage software and you may download apps after register for 90 days free trial from here: http://www.sysembed.com/portal.html
Digital signages have become so popular that we may not notice them if you aren’t looking for them specifically. It is an excellent business investment for higher ROI for restaurants, retail shop and company.
You can follow the step-by-step guide in this article to walk you through designing your digital signage system.
From my experience, I have found these steps to be the most efficient procedure to take and based on these steps you may build up a digital signage solution high efficiently.