What's a Digital Signage Player?
A Player is the device that connects to the display screen. These are often PCs running Windows but these days could be any type of display device such as Linux running on something like the Raspberry Pi, ASUS Tinker Board or Android media players or tablets.
With our HTML5 signage player software you can even use the web browser in your smart TV although most TVs have very sluggish processors driving the browser, which is often fixed at 1280 x 800 resolution. That however is perfectly fine for most signage applications.
The device below is a small fanless Windows 10 PC that we use with our signage system. It can drive two independant screens and will drive one at 4k resolution although animations on a 4k screen might be a little sluggish on this device.
We can supply the above Windows 10 PC with our player software installed and configured to connect to our signage cloud, so all you need to do is connect it to a TV (normally a big LCD TV) and your network.
Zones and Channels
The noticeboard system operates as a number of information channels.
Individual signage screens are configured to display either a single channel of information or multiple channels. A screen configured for multiple channels is split up into zones with each zone displaying its own channel.
Channels are much like TV channels in that different channels will display different content.
Multizone Digital Signage Player Software
While you can set the display to only show one full screen page at a time which is great for general advertising situations or where people might be looking at the screen from a fair distance away, splitting the screen up into zones gives you huge scope for showing multiple pages at the same time and gives it more of a traditional cork notice board look.
A multizone system makes leaving an important message on view all the time easy, as you simply select a zone on the signage screen to display the message.
Each display zone is a complete electronic noticeboard screen in its own right that can display either a single page or multiple pages in a slide show along with page scheduling. The images here give you and idea of what can be done with multiple zones on a screen.
The zones can sit on a full screen graphic or you can set the zone background colour.
DCS - Dynamic Content Spread
Multiple display zones are a great feature but you do have to think about which zone you want to put a given message in, especially if you have a lot of zones on a screen. Some of that problem can be resolved easily with a feature we call DCS, Dynamic Content Spread.
DCS allows you to allocate a number of channels (zones) on a screen to operate as a single virtual display channel so you just put all your pages for display into the single channel and DCS will spread them around the zones automatically.
An example being a screen split into four zones displaying channels 1 to 4. DCS allows you to bundle all those channels into a channel called say channel 10. Pages and media allocated to channel 10 will automatically be spread equally around the four zones. If you added 20 pages to channel 10, each zone would display a slide show of 5 different pages each.
Typical Multizone Display Use
A screen could be placed in somewhere like a school or office reception area as it looks like a conventional notice board with lots of messages on it that you can quickly scan for something of interest.
Multizone is ideal if there is an important message that you need to leave on the screen all the time and don't want it disappearing into the middle of a slide show of 20 pages where it would only be seen once every five minutes as would happen with a single zone screen.
Simply display the page in its own section of the screen for as long as you want while other messages around it can be constantly cycling round.
No need to create different versions of the same page to display on screens running at different resolutions as the pages scale up or down on the fly to fit.
A page generated with our editor will look the same on a 3840 x 2160 4k screen as on a 1280 x 600 tablet although small low resolution images or photographs might look blocky if shown full screen on a 4k screen.
Note that pages designed with a landscape layout won't reflow automatically to correctly fit a portrait screen. The WYSIWYG page editor has both landscape and portrait page layout modes.
Signage Zone Layout Editor
The signage player software has a number of different zone layouts built into it that allow you to quickly select a layout ranging from a single full screen zone to the full sixteen zones with a number of variations in between, including portrait zones.
Along with the pre defined layouts there is also a free form layout editor that allows you to position and size a noticeboard zone anywhere on the screen and at any size. You can also select the channel that the zone operates in and you can select a background image that the zones sit above.
Digital Signage Screen Configuration Options
There are a number of options associated with the noticeboard zones all of which are easily configured from a control panel. The features are:
Page Transitions and timing - A number of transition effects are available so as your zones change content to the next message page they can use a transition such as fade or dissolve (requires IE8 or below to be installed on the player PC).
Zone Borders and Border Colour - Shows a thin border around each zone. The border can be set on or off.
Display web pages in the zones. This enables you to show any web content such as from your Intranet content management system. Note that pages created outside the system should be designed so that they fit into the zone without the requirement to be scrolled with a mouse as there won't be one!
Reboot - Automatically reboot the signage player PC on a certain day and time of the week. Some third party software such as flash could have memory leaks and eventually cause your signage player to run out of memory. Rebooting the unit ensures that your players are running fresh each week. This feature can be switched on or off.