One way to get in-store customers to rush an aisle and purchase a product is an announcement of a “just arrived” product, new bargain price, or limited time offer. If I were a retailer, one thing I’d want in a digital signage system is a quick way to post announcements on signs that would have all the immediacy of the “late-breaking” news announcements that appear on your television screen. Even better would be a way to also have these messages appear on customer smart phones (Android and iOS) whenever they opt in.
IEI, an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance, has come up with just such a solution. What’s novel about it is that it uses the same Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) used by system administrators for the management of computer systems. IEI uses IPMI to sync content storage with media players to enable content updates in real time,
In this post, we’ll look at how IEI has assembled an excellent Internet of Things (IoT) solution for rapid-fire changes to digital advertising and promotional content using IEI tablets, IEI media players equipped with the IEI Remote Intelligent System (iRIS), and QNAP network attached storage (NAS). We’ll also look at how this system enables money-saving remote management and maintenance.
Here’s a quick look at how this solution is designed to work (see Figure 1).
1. A store manager with administrator privileges in the digital signage system decides to offer a short-term promotion on a particular item. It may be because the store has overstocked the item and needs to move units. It may be because the item is timely, such as electric fans during a heat wave. It may be simply to boost sales of an already hot item. Or, it could also be for any other number of reasons.
2. The manager uses their tablet PC, the IEI ICEFIRE-T10A, to scan the barcode of the item for pricing and other information, and, if an image is needed, takes a picture of it using the integrated camera.
3. The manager wirelessly connects through the Internet to an NAS system, the QNAP NAS TS-269. In addition to network-attached storage, this system provides a free iOS and Android media-streaming application named Qfile to allow users to browse and manage files on a NAS.
4. Though Qfile, the manager using his ICEFIRE-T10A browses and works with the item’s promotional content stored in the NAS TS-269. The manager updates an existing ad for the item with a new promotional price or offer. If there was no existing ad to start with, the manager creates materials for the ad on the fly and uploads them to the NAS TS-269.
5. The completed ad is now stored in the NAS TS-269 and available to other store employees with user access privileges. The NAS TS-269 syncs through IPMI with the retailer’s content server, the IEI TANK-801-BT. This fanless intelligent system broadcasts the new ad to every media player in the store (e.g., IEI ECW-381B-UTL) according to the selected parameters for display time and duration.
6. In addition to displaying the new promotion on the store’s signage, the IEI TANK-801-BT broadcasts the promotion to all customers who have opted to receive promotions and other store information on their smart phones with the iOS* or Android* operating system through the Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).Customers with Qfile could even browse store files for more information and potentially even place a hold on the item or buy it online.
Components and Technologies
The real-time digital signage promotion solution is easy to implement using existing products. Let’s look at each individually.
IEI ICEFIRE-T10A PC (Figure 2). This ergonomically designed tablet is based on a dual core Intel® Atom™ processor D525 and runs Microsoft Windows 7 embedded. It is compact and lightweight, and features a dual hot-swappable battery to meet the needs of long retail days. It’s equipped for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth*, and Ethernet LAN, plus is available with a 1D/2D barcode reader, RFID reader, and Smart Card Reader for POS functionality.
IEI TANK-801-BT (Figure 3). Based on the new Intel® Atom™ processor E3826, this fanless embedded system combines high performance and low power in a robust design. Its rich I/O includes dual PCIe GbE ports for high-speed networking performance, six USB ports (including 2 USB 3.0 ports), and a full selection of serial ports. Its Intel Atom processor E3826 delivers outstanding dual-core compute, graphical and media performance. These processors provide high I/O connectivity, Error Correcting Code (ECC) for reliability, and built-in security capabilities—all within a thermal design power (TDP) of just 7W. The integrated 64-bit memory controller supports one channel of up to 8 GB DDR3L system memory.
QNAP NAS TS-269 (Figure 4). This two-bay, all-in-one NAS server uses a dual-core Intel® Atom™ processor D2700 to deliver exceptional performance in meeting the storage requirements of modern SMB IT environments. Features include: secure cross-platform file sharing for Windows®, Mac®, and Linux/UNIX users; a combination iSCSI/ IP-SAN storage solution offering terabytes of storage space; and a number of versatile, value-added business applications. For instance, its Qmobile application enables streaming of music, digital pictures, and videos to smart phones and tablets running Qfile. With a well-rounded set of backup solutions integrated in the QNAP TS-269 Pro, critical signage content and other business information can be safely protected against unexpected data loss.
IEI ECW-381B-UTL Media Player (Figure 5). This fanless power-efficient media player uses a 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5-4350U processor to deliver outstanding graphics and processing performance with a TDP of just 15W. While specific brands of media player are not required for implementation of IEI’s real-time digital signage promotion solution, media players and embedded boards using the latest Intel® Core™ processors are designed to deliver rich, interactive multimedia experiences through their integrated 2D/3D graphics and video playback enhancements.
Why IPMI Makes So Much Sense
IPMI is a server technology normally used by system administrators for out-of-band management and monitoring of computer systems. It allows management of even powered off systems through a network connection to the hardware, thus bypassing the operating system. In IEI’s real-time promotion solution for retail digital signage, it enables remote management of the QNAP TS-269 Pro and IEI TANK 801-BT for monitoring system health and issuing alerts, performing inventory and event logging, and enabling multi-level authentication. In addition, it allows the constant syncing of content between devices.
IEI implements IPMI in a number of its products and manufacturers using its boards through its line of
IEI Remote Intelligence System (iRIS) boards. Available in a wide range of form factors, these boards deliver excellent cost savings by enabling remote diagnosis and repair of the approximately 80 percent of software issues that can be solved via remote control. With iRIS, for instance, IT technicians and administrators can link to the TANK-801-BT to check system status and perform remote maintenance operations.
It’s Time for Real-Time Promotion on Digital Signage
IEI’s solution for real-time promotion on digital signage represents that next big step in digital signage. It increases the speed in which retailers can act in promoting products and pricing to take advantage of everything from new items brought into the store to what’s going on with the local weather. And this could be just the start of a new trend in putting the power of digital signage in the hands of those closest to the customer—the personnel on the sales floor.
Contact Featured Alliance Members:
Solutions in this blog:
· IEI TANK-801-BT
· Manageability - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)
· Interoperability - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)
· Digital Signage - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine