2017 Marks Diverging Trends: Training Part 1
If you are wondering what you can expect the future to hold for dynamic signage content management, we have insights to share. Technology – from a sign industry point of view – need not be overly dissected in order for a client to gain a great digital sign. For the sign professional, however, here is a technology view that has never before been presented in this way. It will clarify not only HOW a dynamic sign operates, but also reveal WHY so many content management services and subscriptions have appeared – and disappeared – in this space.
Before we begin, take a look at a very insightful article written by Alan Brawn, founder of DSEG.org, called “FUTURE PROOFING YOUR DIGITAL SIGNAGE?” This covers the gamut of specs and decisions to be factored into a client dynamic sign project. It may be a bit on the technical side for digital sign shops, so we will facilitate an understanding of some all-important basics for your discussions with clients. In addition, be sure to attend the series of education programs hosted at the ISA Expo in April! This content and more will be shared on Thursday, April 20th, from 11:00 am to 12:00!
Content that is configured and electronically activated on the web, on a cloud server, or in a browser falls under what we term as the “Remote Rendering Protocol.” Alternatively, content that is rendered on a local device such as a media appliance or computer, we have termed a “Local Rendering Protocol.”
RRP vs. LRP
Remote Rendering Protocol Example
When you view a web page, you are viewing a configured collection of ingredients that display based on some code – the gears – in the back end.
If you have ever viewed a webpage source, you can see many scripts embedded behind the scenes. These scripts allow galleries to operate, pages to resize for mobile devices, and video to play within a player. This back end “engine” is hosted on the website’s server. Some of the “gears” allows RSS feeds to display properly (news and blog posts), while others can give you weather stats based on your location. The feeds, text, videos, images, and more are the ingredients, baked up for display. (In technical terms, seamless presentation of rendering results from high bandwidth services to deliver imagery produced by remote, hardware-accelerated rendering platforms.)
Local Rendering Protocol Example
If you choose to download a PDF file from the web, and then you open it on your computer to view it, you are using a PDF viewer – an app located on your local computer. If you download a video to play on your laptop, you are then using a local “engine” to play that video. It is not streaming from the web. Instead, it was downloaded, and a local set of “gears” enabled you to play it properly. Dynamic signs use HTML code for display and layout options, just like a web page. A webpage that you build locally can be viewed in a web browser, which will use the scripts you built into your page to create motion, video players, and more. If you load your new web page to your web host, you will need to also load the scripts to their relative folders.
So What Does This Mean for DS?
Certain types of media players allow one or both protocols (RRP or LRP) for orchestrating the ingredients of your dynamic sign display. Think about a small form factor computer that is to display content on a screen. Quite a bit of software, scripts (also called “apps”) need to be preloaded on that media player, so that what it sends to a display screen will render properly. In addition, you will, in nearly all cases, need to send, or download all of the HTML code, images, videos, fonts, and layout script of your new design, BEFORE the new design can be displayed. This can take minutes or even hours, depending on the file sizes being sent to the computer. This small computer (Windows) or media player may utilize a Windows operating system, an Android operating system, OS X, iOS, Raspberry Pi or a Linux-based OS.
Quite a bit of software, scripts (also called “apps”) need to be preloaded on that media player, so that what it sends to a display screen will render properly.
Chrome OS: The Paradigm Shift
It’s time for the dynamic sign industry stakeholders to embrace a fresh take on content display from Google. For over a year, the Chrome operating system has found a home in dynamic digital sign systems by the thousands. One example: Chico’s clothing stores deployed 1500 displays nationwide on Chrome-based media players. All easily managed in the Chrome Management Console.
It is virtually hacker-proof, unlike any other system on the market today.
The Chromebit, for example, a very high power player that is purpose built for specific applications such as digital signage kiosks, is about the size of a candy bar. It is virtually hacker-proof, unlike any other system on the market today. Why? Because, as one of the world’s most famous hackers explained, “There’s nothing there.” The reason there is “nothing there” is because all of those scripts, embeds, and apps do not get downloaded on the Chromebit. The digital sign content is displayed via the Remote Rendering Protocol. All of the design – HTML and scripts and back end engine – can reside on a host, or cloud, site.
Content Management Services
A server just like a web server features a completely built HTML design. This design is limited only by imagination, and is built in a cloud studio by professional sign designers. The designed page URL is then carried through the Google Sign Builder (which is actually a scheduler) to display on such and such days, at such and such time(s).
Google manages the operating system updates (every 6 weeks) so there is never any outdated system to worry about.
Google manages the operating system updates (every 6 weeks) so there is never any outdated system to worry about. This is markedly different from many media players. Within the Chrome Management System, an admin sets the update schedule, the user levels, and easily manages thousands of displays from one web console.
LobbyPOP has been offering the entire design studio, training, devices and displays for these systems. Come join us next time as we confirm that the best control and reporting systems for remote management cost less than a Starbucks coffee, per month! It’s the future with LobbyPOP, RRP and Chrome!