How does a digital menu board work?

In this article, we review the hardware and software that are required to display dynamic menus on your digital menu board screens.

WHAT ARE THE TECHNOLOGIES BEHIND DIGITAL MENU BOARDS?

First, let’s talk about the basics. There are two types of digital menu board applications. Indoors and outdoors.

Most outdoor digital menu boards and drive through signs use ultra-bright digital screens and are installed vertically. An interior digital menu board tend to use multiple screens that are laid out horizontally. For the most part, the screens used in digital menu board applications must be designed for constant operation (24/7/365).

It’s one reason why system-on-chip screens have become so popular for restaurant menu screen applications. These screens are relatively inexpensive and they have proven to be extremely reliable. They are also very easy to install which is an added bonus.

Windows PCs remain quite popular because they are more versatile and offer better performance. High-end digital signage menu boards can rely on multiple screens connected to Windows PCs running Navori Labs’ QL IPR player software. QL IPR is a perfect choice for this type of application since it supports up to 24 screens and can display unique high resolution content simultaneously on each screen.

Dual-PC setups are recommended when you need additional redundancy. In this case there would be one Windows PC powering one or more digital menu screen with a second PC configured as a backup media player.

For best results, we recommend using thin-bezel screens as they provide a seamless canvas for large banners and video walls when synchronizing content across all screens. When displaying content on these large surfaces, menus are easier to read and you crate a better guest experience.

WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT SHOULD I USE?

QL’s built-in Content Manager includes a user-friendly Template Designer app. The app’s interface was designed for casual users so anyone can create professional content in minutes. Graphic artists and web developers can also create content using HTML5 while QL delivers live data feeds to each screen. This is the ideal scenario for more advanced deployments.

HOW TO CREATE A DIGITAL MENU BOARD?

QL’s built-in Content Manager includes a user-friendly Template Designer app that is perfect for building your digital menu board layout. The app’s interface was designed for casual users so anyone can create professional content in minutes. Graphic artists and web developers can also create content using HTML5 while QL delivers live data feeds to each screen. This is the ideal scenario for more advanced deployments.

WHY DELIVER GRAPHICS AND DATA SEPARATELY?

Here’s why you should always separate data from graphical elements when designing a digital menu board layout:

  • You get better control of your layouts and it’s easier to match corporate visual standards when you start with the graphical elements of each menu board. By layering live data on top of your graphics you can display product images, item names, ingredients, prices, and calories that are always up to date.
  • You make food items more appealing when you display larger images and superimpose additional information. When properly executed, guests benefit from a better visual experience that does not sacrifice legibility.
  • You can design more interesting layouts that include additional information such as weather forecasts or the time of day.

HOW TO ENSURE ONLY IN-STOCK ITEMS ARE SHOWN ON SCREEN

QL Player pulls POS server data dynamically so items that are no longer in stock are automatically removed from the digital menu board. When item are back in stock, they simply reappear on screen. This requires no manual intervention, so your menus are always 100% accurate and reduces staff workload.

In-stock Items Screen

HOW CAN I GIVE LOCAL STAFF MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR SCREENS?

QL Mobile is Navori Labs’ answer to on-location screen control. Using QL Mobile, staff members can modify what’s playing on their store’s screens or digital menu board using any smartphone or tablet. Content can be triggered on-demand and left on-screen for as long as needed which is great for instant promotions or when answering customer questions.

Staff can also upload photos taken with their smartphone and instantly publish them on their screens. Store managers can also use this feature to publish instant notices or increase guest engagement.

HOW CAN I MANAGE LIMITED TIME OFFERS?

Since QL Player interacts with a database in real-time, digital menu boards constantly adapt to show regular and promotional items. Whenever an LTO promotion ends or a new item is added, changes happen on-screen as soon as QL Player refreshes its data. You can also adjust at what frequency QL Player refreshes its data.

HOW DOES QL DEAL WITH DAY PARTING

QL end-users define time slots for the various periods of the day. Time slots can repeat daily or change depending on the store’s need. Some locations may want to display the same time slots 7 days a week (breakfast, lunch, dinner) on their digital menu board. Others may wish to display content that changes daily, or they may want to show different menus during the week and on weekends. It’s important to select a TV menu board software that can accommodate both options.

QL can accommodate all these scenarios and more. For example, you can assign specific rules to individual content, such as a “happy hour” announcement that can only appear on specific days, and at specific times.

HOW DO I MAKE MY PROGRAMMING MORE DYNAMIC?

QL’s Dynamic Content Rules uses artificial intelligence to decide when certain menu items should show up on your digital menu board based on external data. Content can be added to your programs or triggered based on stock levels, or promotional status,. In the case of drive-through digital menus, you can also show add-on items based on a customer’s order.

You can also use environmental factors (temperature, weather, traffic levels, and more) to decide what gets shown on your screens. This technology operates in real-time, specific to each site, and is completely hands-free.

WHAT CAN COMPUTER VISION BRING TO MY DIGITAL MENU BOARDS?

Marketing analytics

Navori Labs’ AQUAJI marketing analytics platform uses computer vision and artificial intelligence for audience analysis. When interfaced with the QL digital signage software, AQUAJI can perform several useful tasks like adjusting a playlist according to customer time spent waiting. AQUAJI can also provide important metrics such as customer wait times so management can adjust staffing levels to meet corporate performance targets.

 

Knowing your customers

By scanning and analyzing your store’s traffic flow, AQUAJI can provide useful information about each customer’s demographic profile, and the time spent by each person visiting your store. This information is invaluable to marketing and planning managers.

 

Restaurant drive-through

AQUAJI can detect vehicle license plates and match them to POS data so drive-through menus can offer personalized choices based on past purchases. The software can also track time spent waiting which can be used to analyze employee performance.

Frequently Asked questions

What is a system on chip powered digital menu board?

In the digital signage world, it means a professional screen with an embedded media player running a digital signage software application such as Navori QL Player for Samsung SSSP, LG WebOS or Philips and Sony or Elo running Google Android. These are the leaders in the digital menu board hardware market.

What is a multi-screen configuration powered by a single pc and navori QL IPR?

It is an System on Chip alternative to deliver more sophisticated content such as multiple product videos being played simultaneously, or showing a video across up to 16 screens. This solution is a little more expensive than the SoC but displays much richer and more qualitative content.

What is a dynamic menu board?

The menu which is displayed through several screens includes products, prices, caloric values and availability directly from the restaurant’s PoS system.

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