Taking Computers Out Of The Digital Signage Loop Has To Be A Good Thing
Here at SpinetiX we call our HMP100 the world’s first Hyper Media Player. It’s really an appliance for digital signage. As a playback device for signage content, it replaces the PC—we took everything out that it didn’t make sense to have. If you compare it with a PC, it weighs only 190g, you can hide it anywhere you want, there are no other moving parts, it’s very robust, and it’s very suitable for harsh environments. When people have it in their hands, they say: Is that all I need? And it is.
The HMP100 is a standalone device, which means you have internal storage—a solid-state disk of 2GB which is enough for most applications. What you do is centrally create— on your laptop or whatever— your project with our software, which is a free download from our website. (This download allows you to have a project using up to 10 devices;
if you’re using more than 10 you have to buy a license for each project, but this is a one-off cost.) You install the software, create the project, then just push it to your devices, and from there on they work independently. You don’t need a central server any more, and you certainly don’t need expensive licensing fees.
Our platform is based on SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics—a description language that allows you to show vectorized content at any size or resolution. This makes it very easy to pilot your screen; you don’t need to know the size of the screen when you are creating your content, only its aspect ratio. Among other things, this makes it very straightforward to create content for vertical or horizontal arrays of multiple screens. When you start your project, you specify the size of the matrix, and that’s all you need to do because the content is vectorized.
Normally, each screen in an HMP network needs its own player, but because each HMP100 has an HDMI and VGA connector, you can connect two screens and install them back-toback— in a hotel lobby or shopping mall, for example, using just the one player to play the same content.
Yet the HMP100 is much more than just a player. It is really a platform upon which integrators can add value themselves. Our software is totally based on open protocols and formats. We give integrators full access to our software so that they can integrate our solution with standard technology—web development, for example, using PHP5. So if you are working in a particular vertical like hospitality or transportation, say, you can integrate with their backbone.
When it comes to content, the HMP’s built-in network connection allows you to connect to internet resources, financial news, weather news, live video streaming, RSS feeds, and so on. That’s one reason we called it the Hyper Media Player— it doesn’t run over and over the same content like a DVD drive or a normal hit player.
Is the HMP100 all you need? Depending on the database entry, you can change a playlist, change a project, produce genuinely on-the-fly content. For scheduling, HMP is again based on an open standard—iCalendar—that is very easy to set up.
After playout, HMP also gives you a very detailed log back, so you can show an advertiser that you have displayed their logo a certain number of times for each day, for example. This precision is necessary because external events will sometimes oblige you to interrupt your playlist. That’s a very powerful tool if the end customer wants to sell advertising space.
And, if the end customer requires it, you can go even further. Imagine a retailer with a database that shows an excess stock of peaches. Integrating that software with an HMP network could trigger a peach advertisement automatically. This is where digital signage can go far beyond mere display and into the realm of truly dynamic applications.
You can also configure the system so that the HMP goes to get content according to a defined schedule. For example, financial news on the hour, then weather news 10 minutes later. It’s easier to go inside out than to push from the outside into a network that might be protected by firewalls. That makes life easier for integrators.
Integrators will always know better than we do what their customer needs. Our approach is to make it easier for them to meet those needs.
Serge Konter is the PR Manager at SpinetiX.