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IP-based Signage Delivers Cost-effective Scalability and Versatility

Jul 8, 2008 12:00 PM, By John W. DeWitt

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Targeting retail, commercial, government, and educational applications, Harris and VBrick Systems are now offering a combined IP-based solution that delivers digital-signage content and live streaming video over various communications networks to both signage and computer screens. A key advantage is simplified content control over different distribution channels.

"Successful multichannel distribution requires a streamlined, automated media distribution workflow," according to Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications. The combined Harris and VBrick package provides "a single point of control for delivering rich media [along with] the critical tools to effectively and efficiently support both online and digital-signage delivery models."

The VBrick video appliance and Harris' InfoCaster solution can be configured interchangeably into a network. The VBrick appliance provides features such as multicast, reflecting, and HTTP encapsulation using standards-based video encoding schemes. Combining the VBrick appliance with the InfoCaster platform creates a single centralized digital signage system that can be used to drive up to thousands of client displays. The solution also is interoperable—live video streams can be combined with other signage inputs, adding live video streams to existing deployments.

"As the demand for both digital signage and online video communication increases, organizations will want to streamline the process with reliable solutions to help them not only capture video at the source, but also stream it live via the Internet and over digital-signage networks to reach a broader audience," says Vince Graziani, VBrick's chief executive officer.

The IP-based Helius digital signage platform is being used by PlasMedia Productions to power its advertising-funded in-mall digital signage network, which services over 3,600 advertisers in 100 locations. Previously, PlasMedia's digital signage system required manual updates to media players every time an ad was modified or created. By late 2006, with its mall signage expanding across the United States, the manual update and management solution was proving unwieldy.

"We had reached a tipping point in the growth of the company and technology was becoming a major obstacle," says Dean Talley, PlasMedia's founder and CEO. PlasMedia then piloted the Helius Media Signage product and found it allowed for central control and deployment of content to any number of Helius media players. "Helius has been instrumental in overcoming specific technological and logistical challenges, helping us achieve our growth objectives."

Today, PlasMedia's network is deployed in regional shopping malls owned by Simon Properties, General Growth Properties, CBL Properties, and independent developers. The Helius network management software provides an interface to upload and target content as well as the reporting needed to manage the system and serve its advertisers. Helius also integrated cellular broadband access to each of the media players, further simplifying deployment by enabling connectivity at each remote play-out device.

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