Have you ever wondered how you could show dynamic menus in your restaurant, inform patients in a clinic waiting room, or motivate office staff? The answer might be digital signage. Basically, digital signage is a broad term that refers to the act of broadcasting information to a select number of TV screens.
Digital signage is made up of three discrete components.
- The back-end server that handled content storage, scheduling and user access.
- The user interface, or “dashboard”.
- The digital signage player, also known as the media player.
In many cases, the back-end server and user interface are bundled together into a product called a CMS, or content management system.
The focus of this article is the digital signage player, which is one of the most, if not the most critical part of any signage solution.
Learn more about Navori’s QL Player software.
First, a bit of history…
Digital signage emerged out of a need to display time-sensitive information to a specific audience. This was when closed-circuit TV networks were popular. Companies would show regular broadcasts to employees using private cable and satellite networks. Eventually the video revolution came about, bringing with it video recorders and players. In the beginning, there were two competing standards: Betamax and VHS. As we know, VHS won and became the most commonly used format for recording and playing video content.
As time moved on, VHS equipment became more compact, and more affordable so more people got into video production. Content distribution shifted from cable and satellite to shipping out VHS tapes all over the country. You may remember seeing small TVs combined with VHS players sitting on store shelves, playing infomercials or short advertising spots. This was pre-internet so every VHS cassette had to be duplicated from a master copy and then shipped out on a regular schedule.
VHS players were prone to breaking and the tapes were also quite fragile. It wasn’t uncommon to see a screen showing static or hearing a badly garbled audio track on a store shelf while customers walked by.
Things improved with the introduction of the Video CD, followed by DVD technologies. It was cheaper to produce and distribute CDs and DVDs, and the playback equipment was much more reliable.
Back then, cathode-ray-tube TVs were the only means to show electronic images from a video source. The technology was cheap, and commonplace but screen sizes were limited. There was also the issue of bulk and weight. You would see CRT TVs hanging from the ceiling, or sitting on shelves on a wall. It was all very “industrial” looking.
Then came the internet, with its ever-increasing bandwidth, and lower costs. At first, companies invested heavily in wiring up their offices, stores and factories. Network equipment had to be installed and replaced as various technologies competed.
Eventually Ethernet became the dominant networking standard and all the basic pieces were finally in place for modern digital signage to emerge.
Digital signage version 1.0
By early 2000 it was much easier to connect to the internet, and bandwidth speeds were increasing rapidly. The first Plasma displays came to market with their inherent limitations. Early units were susceptible to static image burn-in, and they were heavy. They had thick bezels and some had noisy fans to cool down the components. However, they were much easier to mount on a wall so people started experimenting. Displays were mounted vertically and the 16:9 image aspect became a standard.
Screen resolutions started to increase and image quality improved. 480p gave way to 720p, followed by 1080p (Full HD) which emerged as today’s most common video format.
So, by the year 2000, all the basic pieces are there to launch the modern digital signage network. We have access to the internet to shuttle content and instructions back-and-forth. We have flat displays that can be installed in more locations and show content that is in a common format.
At this stage, we also have smaller computers with sufficient power for digital signage use. PCs are getting more compact, fuelled by smaller motherboard designs. Some small form factor PCs are also re-purposed laptop hardware without the screen. Video cards are more capable and start supporting the new formats used with flat displays.
This is when the first true digital signage solutions emerge.
While some folks use Microsoft PowerPoint and similar products to display ads and information on their screens, others look for more robust solutions. It’s true that PowerPoint is great for putting together a basic presentation that loops continuously, but it’s not enough for advertising or most public communication uses. For starters, you can’t schedule content, or remotely control what is playing outside your immediate location.
This is when software companies began to develop content management systems (CMS). The concept was to push content out based on strict criteria, and make sure content was only shown on specific displays, at specific times.
Since then, many products have come to market. In fact, the digital signage industry has been growing exponentially ever since.
Navori was an industry pioneer, launching a complete suite of digital signage products. One software was aimed at single display solutions, and there was a version for managing multiple players. Eventually other versions of the software were developed for hosting multiple-tenants on a single server.
Navori’s modern digital signage player software
Since it’s inception, Navori has continuously improved its digital signage products. However, one constant has remained throughout the company’s existence. Navori’s media player software has always been native to the operating system it’s designed for. Today, Navori QL represents the culmination of 20 years of continuous software refinement, and engineering excellence.
The company’s media player software, QL Player, has significant advantages over other products on the market.
Here is some additional information about Navori QL.
- It’s available as native software on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows, Google Android, Samsung Tizen and other System-on-Chip products from EloTouch, Panasonic, and Philips.
- It has access to all the hardware’s resources making it more reliable, and more efficient than products based on web technologies.
- It’s super-efficient. The software relies on a “forward-and-store” methodology where published content is downloaded by each player and stored locally for playback. While idle, QL Player consumes very few resources or bandwidth making it an ideal product for situations where internet access is restricted. Disconnected players can even be updated using USB keys.
- The software features a sophisticated heartbeat monitoring and event logging system. Network administrators have access to real-time player statistics and error reporting with automated email alerts and visual cues in the QL Content Manager dashboard. Support personnel are informed as soon as an error is detected.
- QL supports all popular multimedia file formats and interactive content. Also supported: HTML, HTML5, streaming video, live date from RSS and XML feeds, database content, Google Calendar data and popular social media feeds from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
- Content can be displayed in full-screen or using custom multi-zoned layouts. Media transparency is fully supported so content designers can create, and deliver, compelling content.
- The software can be upgraded remotely without any end-user involvement. The process can be automated and restricted to specific days and times.
- QL Player supports up to 12 monitors (8K resolution) on a single PC for video wall, and multi-screen applications.
Navori QL is available in Cloud and On-Premise versions. Both versions offer similar features. The difference? Navori hosts and manages the Cloud version, and Navori customers host the On-Premise version on their own server hardware.
Navori QL Player is a modern media player software that can handle any project.