Communicating with Digital Signage
An increasing number of K12 districts are beginning to install digital signs—for displaying announcements, weather conditions, welcome messages, event information and more—in their lobbies, hallways, libraries or cafeterias. Digital signage can also play an important role as part of an emergency notification system, as administrators can immediately display crisis response information on every connected monitor throughout a school building or district.
There are three essential components to a digital signage system: a television monitor, preferably a commercial-grade unit capable of handling continuous operation; a digital signage player, which is a small hard drive that connects to the monitor and plays the content; and a digital signage software program, which is needed to create presentations. As installations get larger and the number of displays increases, it becomes more necessary to have network-connected players and monitors so content can be easily and instantly uploaded across a school or district. Software can also be fully hosted online instead of installed on a single PC, allowing administrators to control and update school signage from any Internet-connected computer. If administrators are not using such Web-based software, large systems will usually require a fourth component—a content management server with greater storage capacity and administrative capabilities, which connects to multiple players and monitors. Here are some of the options to consider for implementing digital signage in your district.
MultiSync LCD4615, LCD monitor, Hardware, $1,699
Perhaps the most crucial part of a digital signage system is the monitor itself, and NEC’s new MultiSync LCD4615 is a good example of how affordable commercial grade HD digital signage has become. This 46-inch, 1080p display has a contrast ratio of 3,000:1 and is designed specifically for digital signage applications, with more rugged and high-performance components than consumer televisions so it can better handle continuous operation without image retention or loss of image quality. Additional features include a screen saver and a scheduling function for powering on or off at preset times.
Similar products are also available from: LG, Westinghouse, Samsung, Vizio
Digital Media Manager, Digital signage program
Internet, Pricing varies depending on installation
Cisco provides complete digital signage systems, including displays, routers and cabling, as part of its Digital Media System solution. The company’s Digital Media Manager is a Web-based software application central to managing the content for a Cisco digital signage system. It allows administrators to upload, catalog, edit, package and publish digital media content for live or on-demand playback on digital signs as well as desktop computers over a network. A variety of features are also included that are specific to users who manage and schedule content, users who design content, and IT support personnel.
Similar products are also available from: StrandVision, Rise Vision, Aerva
American Industrial Systems
SVS-2103, Digital signage player, Hardware, $799
AIS offers a range of digital signage players, which act as interfaces with a television display. Users migrate their multimedia PowerPoint slideshows into the bundled AIS digital signage software and then upload the converted presentation onto a model such as the SVS-2103, which has a 4GB capacity, enough for storing and displaying up to 1.8 hours of 1080p HD images and video to one monitor. Hard drive capacity of up to 80GB is optional. Content can be uploaded via flash drive or wirelessly from the administrator’s PC, and this model can also connect to and display an RSS feed. Partition tools allow users to divide screens into zones for simultaneous presentation of images, video and a scrolling text bar.
Similar products are also available from: Sony, Black Box, Advantech
AxisTV, Digital signage program
Software, Pricing varies ?depending on installation
Visix provides digital signage hardware including media player appliances and signal extenders for large installations, but the company’s flagship product is its AxisTV software. The program enables users to create, schedule and broadcast media not only to digital signage displays but also to other platforms, including desktop messengers and screen savers on desktop PCs, or cell phones, RSS feeds, PDAs and Web pages. Users can also access the program to create and send content remotely from any browser-based Internet device, such as a smartphone, laptop or PDA.
Similar products are also available from: 3M, Sharp, Scala