Blog: Jeff Hastings 
Jeff Hastings (Bio)
Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Staging and testing digital signage projects prior to deployment is an important yet often overlooked element of a successful digital signage installation. Our support staff regularly receive support calls from installers having interoperability problems with systems that weren't tested prior to installation. They call us when they're on-site, un-boxing things and trying to make them work. It can be a very stressful situation for everyone involved.

It's not uncommon for individual components to be tested prior to installation. And while this is a good first step, it overlooks the reality that thorough testing requires full staging to see how the entire system (software, media player, screens, mounting hardware and the network configuration) behaves in unison. This highlights the importance of system integration to truly understand and perfect interoperability of individual components working in harmony.

It is often the case that a system integrator specifies all the required equipment for a given project and then turns it over to an installation team for the final stage of delivery to a customer. In this case, the best practice is for the integration team to carefully stage the equipment before the actual installation.

Take all of the equipment, set it up, test the content and networking to make sure it's working perfectly. Then box it up with explicit instructions for the installation team. It should all be checked, labeled and kitted. All the installers should have to do is connect it together. They're good at installation, and it should be exactly that. The installation should be geared around the labor side of things and have nothing to do with the operation of the system itself. If the pre-installation staging is done properly, the only thing the installer will have to worry about is possible shipping damage.

Staging is especially crucial for content that relies on data-driven information. For example, if the player connects to a database of pricing information for a digital menu board, the integrator needs to make sure the connections to the pricing database are being made. Staging is also a crucial process for any kind of video wall. Staging the screen configuration, checking the player synchronization and bezel compensation settings — all of these elements contribute to a smooth and successful final installation.

One final consideration for the integrator to ensure a simple and successful deployment is to specify reliable purpose-built hardware designed specifically for the job at hand. Think of the long haul and start with the products that will perform flawlessly for years to come.

Installers don't want to be in the position of dealing with malfunctioning PCs or other equipment in the field. And they certainly don't want to complete an installation with only blank screens to show for all their hard work. Installers understandably don't want to be in the position of having to call out an engineer to fix the problem.

There exists a symbiotic relationship between integrators and installers, each with an important role to play in their shared success. Working in tandem, they can build and maintain very strong customer relationships that benefit all involved.

(Cover image courtesy of Sigfrid Lundberg.)

Posted by: Admin AT 10:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 03 February 2015

I've been noticing an amusing trend emerge of late — people posting images to Pinterest and other social networks, documenting digital signage gone awry. In most cases, these images depict a once-impressive digital signage installation brought to its knees by what's well known in PC circles as the "Blue Screen of Death."

No doubt these images are striking, but candidly I worry that these images unfairly cast a shadow on the entire digital signage industry, when certain segments have never and will never fall victim to the Blue Screen of Death. I'll circle back to that theme at the conclusion of this post, but in the meantime I'll offer some perspective on how 4K is evolving our industry in unexpected ways.

4K is proving to be a turning point in our industry, because it marks the point at which dedicated solid-state signage players are starting to pull ahead of PCs in terms of functionality and performance. In the latest research report on the World Market for Digital Signage, IHS predicts that "media players will demonstrate stronger growth potential in future years than PCs, as many companies are launching appliance-based media players with similar functionality and longevity, at a noticeably lower cost, than traditional PCs."

Let's take a look at why this is the case:

First, the graphics engine and CPU in high-end solid-state players are now more powerful than those in all but the most expensive PCs. Not only can they decode 4K H.265-encoded video at 60p, but they also deliver interactive, full-screen HTML5 content or a multitude of sophisticated HTML5 assets simultaneously. We're finding that 4K players are being used to play back conventional 1080p content with sophisticated HTML5 and other dynamic elements, due to the richer experience they provide. There are PCs with advanced graphics cards that can match this performance, and there are also very compact PCs that use relatively little power. However, there are none that provide both, and match the cost or the reliability of the equivalent purpose-built player.

Secondly — and this is nothing new — any integrator or store operator will attest to the fact that reliability is as key to the success of a digital signage installation as compelling content. There's absolutely no reason to approve the effort and expense of a digital signage installation if the content doesn't compel the customer to buy, or if the screen doesn't reliably display this content — in some cases 24/7. This is another key reason why purpose-built, solid-state media players that have no moving parts will continue to pull ahead of PCs in 2015.

And lastly, the perceived wisdom has been that a PC is required for large and complicated installations, but that is no longer true. Spectacular results have been achieved on large video walls, outdoor LED displays and mass stadium and retail rollouts driven by the new generation of dedicated players offering advanced capabilities and total reliability.

As this perceived wisdom is overturned, we should start to see a reduction in the number of high-profile "Blue Screens of Death" that I mentioned previously. We can expect the digital signage industry to move past this disappointing era; onward and upward to a better place where we've eliminated the Blue Screen of Death in digital signage.

Posted by: Admin AT 02:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Add to favorites

Our members are among the most prominent and respected suppliers of digital signage, kiosk, self-service and mobile technology solutions.

Request project help from DSA members

“Participating in the Digital Screenmedia Association enables us to keep a pulse on the industry. It gives us access to a wealth of experts to share ideas and enables us to build more effective solutions for our clients.”

Brian Ardinger
Entrepreneur in Residence
NUtech Ventures, Inc.

Tweets by @iDigScreenmedia

Digital Screenmedia Association | 13100 Eastpoint Park Blvd. Louisville, KY 40223 | Phone: 502-489-3915 | Fax: 502-241-2795



Website managed by Networld Media Group