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Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions.

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Exhibio Compact Form Factor

Exhibio Compact Form Factor

Through its Inspired Signage line, AMX can provide a complete signage package with its Inspired Player software for multizone display at up to 1920×1080 resolution; the Inspired Player Server, a native NetLinx device designed for 24/7 operation; Inspired Composer, a content management interface able to manage multiple destinations with full user rights and restrictions; and the Inspired Babel application, which enables integration of the system with any data source to dynamically push/pull realtime information into content playlists.

The Xpander from Applica through its division SmartAVI is a PCI card with a 15-pin VGA video interface that can display any file that can be played on a Windows PC. The unit can fill a videowall with one image or put a separate display on 64 screens. Presentations may expand, contract, or move to any location or size on the videowall, which may also display live RSS feeds from the Internet while a video presentation is playing. With the Xpander software, any Windows XP or Vista PC or 2003 server can manage the videowall or serve as an Internet gateway, through which the videowall may be managed remotely via the Internet over TCP/IP.

The Emerge MPX1000 transmitter and Emerge MPX1500R receiver from Avocent offer a solution for multipoint distribution of high-def digital-signage applications to as many as eight display locations in a wired or wireless distribution link. They support HDMI video and embedded audio and digital and analog computer graphics with analog audio and component video. Avocent's system management and diagnostic software works with an onboard web server that allows browser-based unit control and configuration while the front-panel display provides push-button access to system status.

CE Labs offers the HD300ZX high-def digital media player as a light and quick solution for converting a local display device into a digital-signage system. Downloading via Ethernet, USB, or CompactFlash, the unit can store content on an optional 40GB-to-200GB hard disk and play back MPEG -1, -2, or -4; Divx HD; WMV 9; and WMV HD. The HD300ZX presents a user-friendly graphical interface for easy playlist operation, and it can use Internet updates with the CE Labs Flight Content Manager Software.

Real Digital Media Neocast

Real Digital Media Neocast

The latest model in the long line of video graphics information display systems from Chyron is the ChyTV HD 100 with an internal MPEG clip player. The unit can display video in various windows or superimpose text messages over video backgrounds. Fullscreen graphics can be displayed with dynamic text, logos and animations, text pushes, fades, and crawls in landscape and portrait display modes. A playlist scheduler provides versatile programming capability, and the ChyTV Tools application enables direct control of multiple ChyTV 100 units. For realtime updates, there are USB and Ethernet ports.

Cisco's Digital Media System can be used as a complete digital-signage application using all of its components — including the Digital Media Player, the Digital Media Manager software application, and the Digital Media Encoder 2000. The Digital Media Player is an IP-based device that delivers HD broadcasts, Flash animations, graphics, text, tickers, and other web content. The Digital Media Manager is the central management application for all Cisco Digital Media System Products. It allows for content creation, playlist scheduling, and administrator and user accounts. The D9032 Encoder delivers high-quality MPEG-4 video optimized for efficient transmission.

The SSV-304 SignStream media player from Contemporary Research can broadcast up to four HDTV signage channels and display control commands over RF coax. The unit plays 1080i ATSC MPEG-2 transport streams from a 250GB SATA hard drive through slide-in SSM-ATSC HDTV Modulator Cards housed in its chassis frame. These are independently programmed with the SignStream Media Express software. Browser-based SignStream Media Express web pages manage playlists, media libraries, and system setup, while event scheduling assigns playlists, starts and stops media, and controls displays.

Enseo markets the 1RU rackmounted Channel Gfx for combining live video, MPEG-1 and -2, bitmap graphics, graphic sequences, and web surfaces along with scrolling text, crawling text, and effects. Facilitating this is Enseo's included Author and On the Air software, which presents its theme-generator user interface with graphic overlay of web content. Also available are alpha blending and chroma key and NTSC/PAL outputs in a very versatile content-creation package.

For easy setup and configuration of a digital-signage system, Exhibio offers its Compact Form Factor digital player with file support for WAV, MP3, AIF, and WMA audio along with Flash, PowerPoint, BMP, GIF, and JPEG graphics and MPEG-1, -2, and -4; WMV; and MOV video formats up to 1920x1080 resolution. The unit also has USB and FireWire ports. The Exhibio Manager application provides an intuitive interface for users at any skill level to create custom multimedia mixes with audio, video, RSS feeds, scrolls, and stills using background templates.

GestureTek has added an interactive angle to digital-signage applications with its ScreenXtreme immersive interactive digital-signage system that can be used alone or added to any existing signage setup. Upgraded to work with Active X controls, the system allows passersby to become part of the display through a camera-capture method and then to control the background in the display by moving their arms and hands. ScreenXtreme comes with more than 30 preprogrammed special effects — including effects that simulate swimming underwater, juggling objects, or wiping away a hazy mist to clear the view.

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