Friday, 04 February 2011
Having access to remote control over display functions like "on" and "off" can save time, effort and expense.
Sometimes what should be obvious isn't so till someone points it out. For instance, just the other day I was listening to a favorite radio program that I stream on the Internet when the topic of surprise endings of films came up.
The sidekick of the show's host identified the movie "Planet of the Apes" as one with a surprise ending. But the real surprise of that radio segment came when it became clear that while the sidekick recognized the movie had a surprise ending, he had no clue that the surprise was Charlton Heston discovered he was actually on Earth throughout the film.
When the host of the show understood his sidekick's failure to see the obvious, the real fun began. He had loads of laughs over the fact that his sidekick -from the time he first saw the movie, released some 40 years before- had not recognized the obvious till that very moment on air.
But haven't we all at one time or another found ourselves in exactly the same position as the sidekick -not recognizing the obvious, which stares us in the face, till someone else points it out to us?
Such is the case with digital signage network management and remote control over simple display functions, such as "on" "off" and "volume." Many displays come with RS232 ports that allow these functions -and others, such as changing the channel, which probably isn't important in this context- to be controlled remotely. This interface and the need for control over these functions should be obvious but might go overlooked without an understanding of why controlling them is so important.
Imagine having dozens or even hundreds of displays scattered throughout a university campus, shopping mall or sports arena. Having the ability to turn individual monitors, sets of monitors, or all monitors on or off at a given time is a good way to manage display life, minimize energy consumption and even play an important role in targeting vital information when emergency situations arise.
Rather than having to walk the venue and manually turn monitors off in the evening and on in the morning, digital signage network administrators can rely on serial remote control of basic on/off functionality to save time and improve operational efficiency.
When an emergency arises -particularly during off hours when only skeleton crews may be occupying a given building- having the ability to remotely turn on displays previously shut off for the evening so warnings about emergency weather conditions or other contingencies can be displayed can become a matter of life and death.
Remote control over volume can be important as well. Sometimes professors or teachers in an educational setting, passersby at public venues, like malls, and even employees in corporate settings may manually adjust the volume of the display outside the digital signage network administrator's desired level.
As with on/off functionality, controlling volume from a central location through serial commands to the display reduces the time needed to make adjustments and saves a lot of legwork.
Is the importance of controlling on/off and volume functionality obvious? Probably. But for those who may have been having a "Planet of the Apes" moment when it comes to having remote control from a network operations center over these basic functions, I hope this column produced an important "ah ha."