Digital signage is the process of dynamically broadcasting digital AV content to multiple screens in various locations in order to distribute information, such as news, way finding information, alerts, emergency messages or commercial content. The technology is increasingly important because it helps to keep customers, citizens, travelers and visitors informed in real-time.
Typical digital signage solutions are comprised of components such as:
Digital signage can be a very effective and affordable communications medium. Today’s digital signage solutions offer a wide array of features and nearly endless presentation opportunities, including video, audio, still images, HTML and Flash animation. You can display the same content on multiple screens or distribute unique content to each individual screen. It's also possible to schedule content to change at regular intervals or times, based on distinct messaging or changing audiences.
A digital signage setup lets you distribute, split, manipulate and control AV content for a networked multi-screen setup. The process is straightforward: connect local or remote players/sources to as many screens as required to display the same (or multiple) video messages simultaneously or in any give order. Connections can be established via a direct, cable-based connection (e.g. when the player is mounted behind a screen), through a LAN or WAN (internet) connection or over an AV extension network using transmitter and receiver devices. Depending on the solution, content can be managed locally, e.g., through a connected laptop, or via a web-based management appliance. Once all required connections have been made and the setup has been configured, static and dynamic content feeds like live video streams, TV stream, RSS feeds and HTML can be seen throughout a POS, venues, airports, hospitals and more.
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Digital signage TV is the dynamic place-based media and dynamic out-of-home (DOOH) communication which generally describe media networks carrying advertising in out-of-home locations. Dynamic place-based media “plays nice” with other communications devices through the repurposing of brand assets and content. This is a twofold benefit. “Transmedia” is the repurposing of content for use on multiple devices such as TV/CATV, print, dynamic signage, internet and mobile. Transmedia increases the overall return on content production investment while reducing the cost of message production intended for use on each medium. Dynamic signage is useful for testing and refining messages before committing the message to higher production costs and TV presentation. The ease of message placement and rapid placement/assessment cycle time allow campaigns to be modified quickly to maximize investment.
Multicasting HDMI from a content player or any other AV source allows the distribution of video and audio to any screen on a signage network. A single transmitter can deliver multimedia to hundreds of displays with no need to run dedicated video links from a back room to displays in lobbies, a POS, airports or any venue. By adding or combining AV or KVM extension and switching solutions, USB extenders and the right networking equipment, users can take advantage of an almost endless number of configurations for their applications, including touch-interactive signage and wayfinding displays in retail, healthcare, education, public offices and more.
Digital Signage Servers
Network-based, dedicated digital signage servers enable users to control content on multiple screens from a central, remote location. This allows you to control content in real time and to include instant-messaging capabilities. Content, playlists and scheduling can be controlled remotely, accessing the servers IP address through a browser. Some systems also give the administrator the ability to turn screens on and off remotely. With a dedicated video server residing on the same network, live camera feeds, video streams and stored video content can be added easily.
Digital Signage Software
Digital signage software solutions, also called digital signage publishers, are ideal when there is a need to have extended control of the way content is displayed on screens. For example, this is great for setups that require interactive, local input (such as touch, RFID, contact closure) or real-time response to data conditions. Software-enabled digital signage allows you to create multiple content zones on the screen and easily schedule content for each zone. Additionally, it has override content features for interrupting routine content streaming with emergency alerts programmed from a remote location. For some solutions, digital signage software solutions are combined with either dedicated servers or digital signage hardware.
Digital Signage Hardware
Hardware-based digital signage solutions use AV transmitter and receiver units to extend and switch audio, video and USB signals between multiple sources (e.g. content players) and displays over dedicated network cabling or IP. By connecting multiple senders and receivers over a Gigabit network, an AV matrix setup can be created that allows the sharing of content from each source on each of the connected screens. For simpler setups, a single pair of transmitters and receivers can establish a simple point-to-point (P2P) connection over CAT5e/6 cable. A content source in this scenario can be a COTS PC, with minimal hardware requirements that include sufficient processing speeds and storage capacity.
Black Box's MediaCento™ Video-over-IP solution enables you to multicast HDMI video and audio to up to 256 screens on a single Ethernet network, making it the perfect solution for distributing high-resolution digital signage content including up to 4K video and digital audio. Visit our product page to find out more.
Digital signage prices are variable and depend on each project's setup and requirements. Generally speaking, there are four major categories digital signage pricing falls into. Understanding these categories will help you select the most appropriate system to support your objectives, application and budget:
Moderate (w/TX capability)
|What do you want to display?|
|Static content with a couple of photos?||•||•||•||•|
|Static content and streaming video?||•||•||•|
|Static content, streaming video, and an RSS feed?||•||•||•|
|Corporate information, static content, streaming video, and an RSS feed?||•||•||•|
|Corporate information, static content, streaming video, video (TV), and an RSS feed?||•||•|
|Control your screens from a media player?||•||•||•|
|How many locations and displays do you want the content to run on?|
|Content on one screen?||•||•||•||•|
|Content on multiple screens at one location?||•||•||•|
|Content on multiple screens at multiple locations at one site?||•||•||•|
|Content on multiple screens at multiple locations at more than one site?||•|
|Play different content at multiple locations?||•|
|How do you want to manage your content?|
|Real time remote player static check?||•||•||•|
|System log and content reporting?||•||•||•|
|Remote-control features to poll the detailed player status, screen controls, volume controls, reboot players, and software upgrades?||•|
|Real time alerts?||•|
|Do you want to confirm what content is played?|
|Will you need a reporting matrix?||•|
Planning a digital signage project is hard work and entails a lot of planning. If you are considering deploying a new system or updating an existing one, you should ask yourself the following questions prior to making a decision:
Black Box helps companies design, integrate and maintain reliable AV and KVM solutions for multiple industries, including corporate, conference rooms, broadcasting, stadiums and arenas, medical, air traffic control, education, oil and gas and utilities. Leave the tech to us and our comprehensive solutions will deliver secure connections, fast-response times, real-time collaboration and more.