Low cost cameras and video analytics technology are transforming digital signage from a passive display system into a smart data collection network where owners can track and optimize their return on investment and cost per impression. As I covered in part 1 of this intelligent signage series, the Intel® Audience Impression Metric Suite (Intel® AIM Suite) coupled with the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture, provides the video analysis and face detection algorithms to allow network operators to dynamically modify content depending on the viewer’s demographics. Data from the suite can also be used to judge the display’s ability to attract a minimum number of viewers, hold the viewer’s attention, and to find the best physical location for the sign. In this post, I will take a look at compatible off-the-shelf hardware and software components that designers can use to get started developing smart digital signage.
Developers can get a head start on new signage projects targeting the Intel® AIM Suite with ready to run products such as the Digital Signage Evaluation Kit covered in part 1 or they can opt for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modules based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture. For example, Congatec offers the conga-BM67 COM-Express module with either the 2.1 GHz, 45W Intel® Core™ i7 processor or the 2.5 GHz, 35W Intel® Core™ i5 processor along with up to 8 GBytes of dual channel DDR3 memory (See figure 1). The processor graphics supports the Intel® Flexible Display Interface (FDI), which allows for two independent video channels on the VGA, LVDS, HDMI, DisplayPort or SDVO interfaces. The Intel® HD Graphics supports Intel® Clear Video HD Technology and DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) for accelerated video processing. Peripheral interfaces include six PCI Express lanes, eight USB 2.0 ports, four SATA with RAID support, one EIDE and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Fan control, LPC bus for slow speed extensions, and Intel® High Definition Audio complete the feature set.
The software required for an Intel® AIM Suite based project can take on many levels of complexity starting with a single screen with a few targeted displays up to a network of units in various locations with multiple advertising promotions. One of the most comprehensive software products comes from BroadSign International, offering digital signage Software as a Service (SaaS). The BroadSign Suite, integrating their existing proof-of-play reporting system with the anonymous video analytics technology of the Intel® AIM Suite, consists of multiple components including an administrator, a player, two servers, and a sign creator (See figure 2). The software enables operators to target out-of-home audiences, sell network airtime, playback scheduled content on each screen, and account for campaign performance. Digital signage networks using the BroadSign and Intel® AIM Suites will offer advertisers not only proof-of-play reports but also audience numbers shown for every ad played. Tying together the two metrics makes it easier for advertisers to analyze campaign performance and allows adjusting the schedules and content based on the combined reports.
The challenge for digital signage original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is to develop and modify products quickly in response to a wide variety of customer demands and user environments. Designed for intelligent kiosk, digital signage, medical cart, and gaming applications, the MITX-CORE-820 motherboard from Emerson Network Power features the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family and offers a flexible mix of features and expansion options. The industrial grade Mini-ITX motherboard is based on an Intel® QM67 controller powered by an Intel® Core™ i7-2710QE or Core™ i5-2510E processor. The motherboard has sockets for up to 8 GB DDR3 memory plus one PCIe x16 and one PCIe Mini Card slot. The PCIe Mini Card slot supports PCIe, USB, and DisplayPort connectivity. The MITX-CORE-820 also provides two gigabit Ethernet ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, SATA 6Gb/s ports, 2 SATA 3Gb/s ports, and one RS232 port. Display outputs include HD audio interface, one VGA power connector, two DisplayPorts, one Embedded DisplayPort, and one LVDS Header. The motherboard supports Windows 7, Embedded Standard 7, XP Professional, and Fedora 12 operating systems. Emerson offers a free Digital Signage Gets Smart eBook download which includes a guide to technology architecture for digital signage based on Intel® embedded technology implemented by Emerson Network Power.
The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture is ideal for intelligent digital signage applications and combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor optimized for media plus dedicated fixed-function hardware for video processing. If you are starting a new intelligent digital signage project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Intel® Digital Signage Applications page and the Embedded Computing Design archives on smart digital signage.
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OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance
Emerson Network Power is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Congatec is an Associate member and BroadSign is a General member of the Alliance.