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One-Stop Shopping for Digital Signage

When Oklahoma's Choctaw Nation needed new AV throughout all its casinos and a digital signage system, it turned to a single source: Alpha Video & Audio of Minnesota.


Of course, with a dizzying array of AV equipment, sending content to one endpoint or another can be challenging, particularly when it comes to the many video feeds. Choctaw Casinos’ Party Pits are collections of tables grouped together and imbued with their own entertainment options. “Each Party Pit has over 20 displays, which are mounted to two steel trusses that run the length of the pits,” Westra explains. “We had to devise a way for the user to clearly understand on which display he was changing content.”

Programmers designed a touch-panel interface that was a graphical representation of how the displays were laid out in the pit so that it would be easy to visualize where a person was about to send selected source content.

In fact, Alpha Video’s DDG left no stone unturned when it came to usability. The wayfinding kiosks that DDG installed were placed in “greeting areas” at the various casinosout at the edge of the facilities where visitors enter and might need help in finding their favorite machines. The kiosks communicate wirelessly with the casinos’ central computers to generate reports on what games, amenities, or other casino features patrons seek out the most.

With many installations, updating the wayfinding software on kiosks to reflect changes in a floor plan or to include new attractions requires a visit from a programmer. DDG made it so Choctaw could perform the updates itself. “We template-ized the screens for them,” Medlin says. “The update process is simple and the client can do that themselves, which is a huge cost- and time-savings factor.”

Which isn’t to say Alpha Video and DDG simply installed user-friendly systems and walked away. Alpha Video also contracted with Choctaw Casinos to supply training and 24/7 technical support for the casino’s AV and digital signage infrastructures. “We felt that that was necessary given the enormity of the systems we’ve put into the casinos,” says Choctaw’s Mathews.

Though the kiosks are wireless, much of the rest of the digital signage and AV systems, including the CobraNet-based audio networks, were built on networks already in place.

“We were able to use [the casinos’] own Ethernet backbones for delivery, so there’s significantly less cabling than there might have been,” Medlin says. “Before, you would have had to have a home run to each screen. Now, they just plug into an Ethernet jack.”

The network-based approach also means that when the various Choctaw casinos want to expand their digital signage networks, upgrading should be significantly easier. And they’ll have just one call to make.

“The network lets the casino erupt when somebody wins,” says DDG’s Medlin. “They can put people’s pictures up on the displays just as the jackpot happens. This is what brings people back here. That’s the ultimate goal of every casino, so it had to be ours, too.”

Dan Daley is a freelance AV writer and frequent contributor based in Nashville, Tenn.

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