To succeed as a digital signage service operator, you need to provide excellent service and innovative solutions at an attractive price. So if you find a formula that saves over 30 percent on signage installations and more than 70 percent on routine service and maintenance, you get excited.
That’s what happened with PilotTV in Taiwan when they started using Intel’s Intelligent Pluggable System Specification (IPSS). According to David Mou, director of business development at PilotTV, they’re seeing these savings, plus gaining valuable data analytics capabilities that increase the value of the advertising to their advertisers.
PilotTV is a digital signage service provider with a micro TV station that supports over 5,000 signs in convenience stores, drug stores, and quick-service restaurants. You might recognize some of the names, such as 7-Eleven* and McDonalds*. PilotTV’s signs in these businesses play advertisements for a variety of media agencies. PilotTV installs, operates, and maintains complete signage networks integrating LCD displays, media players, content management system (CMS), device management console, wireless networking, and security. They also help develop content, sell advertising time, and provide viewer analytics to their customers.
PilotTV saw the value in IPSS right away. IPSS is a formula for a complete digital signage network. It builds upon the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), a modular standard that specifies a standardized plug-in slot on displays for hosting pluggable PC-based media players (Figure 1). OPS enables a key element of the IPSS formula – an all-in-one unit that allows player or display to be easily upgraded or replaced. (For more on OPS, see this earlier post.)
Figure 1. Media players supporting the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) insert into OPS-compatible displays. (Photo courtesy of Axiomtek.)
IPSS adds to OPS by specifying the rest of a signage network’s components and capabilities. These include content management system (CMS), remote device management and maintenance, secure connectivity, audience analytics, and 4K compliance (Figure 2). The IPSS platform specification includes:
- Selection of OPS-compliant media players and displays supporting resolutions up to 4K from members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance and other vendors
- CMS software, such as Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM), that simplifies content creation and delivery across a distributed signage networks.
- 4th generation (and beyond) Intel® Core™ i5/i7 processors deployed in OPS-compliant media players as well as other networked digital signage systems.
- Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT), a suite of processor-enabled remote device management solutions that can reduce operational costs.
- Video analytics software, such as Intel® Audience Impression Metrics Suite (Intel® AIM Suite). Intel AIM Suite is a video analytics solution that can track viewer demographics and behavior to help operators optimize marketing campaigns. In-display sensors or cameras (or external ones focused on the area in front of the display) are required for this feature.
Figure 2. The Intelligent Pluggable System Specification includes a full hardware and software stack for digital signage solutions.
The magic comes when you see what a company like PilotTV can do with this combination.
- Lower installation costs. Using OPS-compliant players and displays enables the combination to be connected in less than a minute. PilotTV estimates a 31 percent cost reduction. What’s more, the players can support through traditional wired or wireless connections up to two additional displays.
- Reduced support costs. Using Intel AMT enables fewer onsite visits. Many issues such as a hung device and corrupted software can be handled remotely. In addition, keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) capabilities enable advanced remote diagnostics and repair. PilotTV estimates that with Intel AMT up to four out of five service requests are handled remotely, reducing service costs by approximately 95 percent.
- Easier content generation and distribution. Using a CMS makes it easy to compose, schedule, and manage campaigns across the signage network. Each digital sign can be controlled independently to assign content and respond to touchscreen or optical data with customized images and messaging.
- Higher revenue. The combination of video analytics from a solution like Intel AIM Suite and a CMS like Intel RCM enables service providers to offer advertisers confirmed views and even provide information on the gender, approximate age, dwell time, and time of day. Intel RCM can be programmed to use this data in real-time to serve up content targeting the gender and age bracket of a viewer. According to PilotTV, agencies are willing to pay up to three times more to be able to target viewers this way.
- Improved advertising results. Running on the Intel® Core™ processors in the media players, a CMS can use the data generated by a video analytics solution to perform data analytics on the effectiveness of advertising content. The results of this analysis can guide improvements in messaging and increase advertising effectiveness over time.
To learn more, see this case study of the PilotTV implementation of an IPSS digital signage network.
Examples of IPSS-Compliant Players
NEC and a host of Alliance members offer OPS-compliant displays in a range of sizes and performance that meet IPSS guidelines. Here, I want to focus on two examples of IPSS-compliant media players from the Intel Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.
Associate member Axiomtek offers the OPS882-HM (Figure 3). This media player includes a 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5 processor. These processors deliver superb integrated graphics performance with up to 4K/2K resolution. An HDMI port enables connection to a second display. The unit can also be ordered with the processor's Near Field Communications (NFC) capability activated to enable customers with smart phones to interact with the signage application.
Figure 3. Axiomtek OPS882-HM media player.
The module includes one 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet, optional Wi-Fi, one RS-232, and three USB 3.0 ports to enable fast and efficient data exchange. It supports Audio Video Bridging (AVB), the set of IEEE specifications for time-synchronized low latency streaming services through IEEE 802 networks. One full-size and one half-size mSATA PCI Express Mini Card slots provide flexible storage and expansion options. System memory supports two DDR3L-1600 for a maximum of up to 16 GB capacity.
Affiliate member J&W IPC Technology offers the S014 IPSS Module (Figure 4). Also based on a 4th generation Intel Core processor with a Mobile Intel® QM87 Chipset, this player supports ultra HD 4K as well. The unit includes a 2.5” 320 GB hard drive, 4 GB RAM, and Ethernet, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), and 3G connectivity. Rear I/O includes line-out, mic-in, 2x USB 2.0, LAN, and a DisplayPort output to power a second display. Both Windows 7 and 8 operating systems are available. In standby mode, this unit draws just 0.5W making it an excellent power saver.
Figure 4. J&W IPC S014 IPSS Player Module.
Make IPSS Your Recipe for Success
It’s pretty exciting to achieve the kind of savings and success that PilotTV is seeing in its digital signage network. The key is assembling the network with IPSS-compatible components. That way you can be sure you’re getting a solution designed from the ground up to deliver ease of installation, remote maintenance, remote content management, and viewer analytics. And with 4K capabilities, you get the sharp, crisp images and videos that stop customers in their track. The two media players featured here are a great place to start your IPSS-based signage network.
Contact featured members:
Solutions in this blog:
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine