Digital Signage Ecosystem
Digital signage is becoming a seamless and ubiquitous part of our physical world in the 21st century. We often consume the information on these displays without realizing exactly what has occurred in public and private spaces. Displays giving us direction, advertisements, ambiance have become a critical way of communicating dynamic information.
As HTML5 content becomes a pervasive platform for delivering all kinds of digital signage, from static to richly interactive, there are a number of low cost Android and Chrome OS based devices arriving on the market. These devices benefit from the fact that the web browser is the platform and as long as a device can reliably render HTML5 content, they can deliver these experiences. This market has also greatly benefited by the great leaps in mobile SOC performance improvements over time, allowing fanless devices to play 1080p video without discrete graphics, for example.
Now Micro has been building embedded devices for digital signage/purpose built computing for over ten years. In that time, we have seen device costs go down, while delivering a more reliable and performant player. In investigating the Android based HTML5 player market, we were astounded to see high hardware failure rates, no security hardening or patching and a lack of open management platforms. We decided to forgo this market rather than compromising what we feel our are core competencies and values.
Intro to Windows 10 IoT Core
Windows 10 IoT Core is a low-cost, embedded operating system designed for small foot print devices and runs Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. While there are hardware and OEM specific components to the operating system, security updates are delivered from Microsoft for 10 years. In contrast, Android devices rarely receive or are capable of security patching in the field. We feel that maintaining a secure device for the entire expected lifetime of the device is very important in a world where compromised IoT devices are a public safety issue and digital messaging is a part of critical safety infrastructure.
When Windows 10 IoT Core was released by Microsoft, we saw a path to deliver a low cost, reliable and high performance HTML5 digital signage device. We’ve taken learnings from the industry around Android and Chrome OS devices and created the Now Micro IoT Player to address them in a way that fits with customer expectations of costlier digital signage players.
With HTML5 being a viable and increasingly capable communication vehicle, there are now additional operating system/platform choices that can be considered when choosing players. While Windows 10 IoT Core and the Now Micro IoT Player solution are not for every use case, it does address many pain points that are found in existing solutions.
Take the time to ask yourself some questions:
– Do you see HTML5 content becoming an increasing portion of your digital signage business?
– Have you had reliability and support issues with your existing HTML5 players?
– What is the core value you deliver to your customers? What about your current hardware gets in the way of delivery or occludes your message?
Having a clear understanding of the existing industry trends towards HTML5 based digital signage, the hardware and operating system ecosystem and addressing your core requirements will allow you to make an informed and sustainable decision when comparing choices.