June 2007
  
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New Advances in Digital Display Technology
Utilizing data cellular and internet protocol technology, it is a unique system for the delivery of dynamic digital advertising.
 

Wayne Moir
President
Adshift Inc.

Forget about cutting through your marble floors or ripping up your ceilings. The next generation of digital signage has removed the need for costly cabling and complex installations. Adshift has overcome the technological challenges that plague today’s wireless delivery systems by developing a new proprietary combination of software and hardware that truly represents a significant advance in the industry. This system combines the best elements of all the available methodologies to produce the most advanced digital signage delivery system available today.

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Digital Display Systems (DDS) systems can present a host of different challenges for building managers. Historically, earlier applications of Digital Signage have struggled with the technology, often cobbling together a hodge-podge of CD/DVD players and ultimately leading to unsatisfactory results or to system failure. By adapting our POS technology and culling the best features of the varied approaches, the most powerful solution can now be delivered at an economical cost.

The technology works anywhere a sign can be located and powered, utilizes military grade security and requires no operator attendance or network cabling of any kind. Adshift provides ruggedized hardware, software and connectivity in a single package. Utilizing data cellular and internet protocol technology, it is a unique system for the delivery of dynamic digital advertising.

To fully understand how this system came into being, one has to understand that the genesis of this technology came from the development of a novel point of sale system that would allow for transactions using credit and debit cards on food and beverage carts on golf courses.

The Internet was chosen to provide the pathway and the decision was made to use data cellular transmission for “the last mile”. Both of these were proven, existing technologies that allowed for speed, security and connectivity. The system uses bank encryption as well as an ever changing randomized IP address to ensure security is as tight as possible.

A company was created to be a supplier to the Dynamic Digital Signage industry (DDS) to supply display signage that was unique in terms of its technology. The goal was to develop a system that could be placed on a vehicle in motion and be able to change a digital image on that vehicle quickly and easily. The existing POS hardware and software was reconfigured to suit the requirements of the DDS industry and accomplish that goal.

The resulting device has been reduced to the approximate size of a DVD player. By using a heat dissipating alloy we were able to solve the problems of heat generation without the need of a fan. This reduced the size and the fact that it has few moving parts, made the unit virtually silent and almost eliminates the potential for mechanical breakdown. Whether in motion, or not, this technology offers unparalleled versatility and adaptability.

The device had to be able to stand up to the rigors of transit advertising. It is moisture proof, ruggedized and utilizes all of the security features of the POS system. It can run from AC or a 12 volt power supply, automatically powers up and down and requires no operator attendance. The PDC can drive plasma, LED or LCD displays in a variety of sizes. If required, it has the ability to operate four independent displays simultaneously. It can accept and run JPEG, MPEG, TIFF and FLASH files and because each unit has a unique IP address can be operated as a network or as independent units. This flexibility also allows the displays to be regionalized or even departmentalized. It represents scalability on the highest level.

Hardware issues having been overcome, we then focused on establishing a system of data delivery that minimized stress to the client. Sophisticated yet simple became the watch word. Once a client delivers the schedule, the central server takes over.

There are a number of companies with different approaches to the process of taking digital content from a central source and delivering it to a digital display. While the technology isn’t new, the market still seems to be struggling to find the best way to combine and manage it. Some companies may specialize in security, some in economy or versatility. Most purchasers don’t ask questions until its too late; they are often met with unwelcome surprises.

Many businesses want to broadcast content to multiple screens within a single location and many would also like to replicate this “narrowcast” in multiple locations nationwide. With the opportunity to use the Internet as a delivery system comes the opportunity to control the content delivered to each individual location. With the Internet also comes the potential for viruses and other security issues. The challenge of sending secure, centrally-controlled content to multiple locations that have multiple screens in each of those locations has spawned a whole host of ‘solutions’.

The problem is that the present systems have difficulty meeting those needs without sacrificing other critical elements of the digital display system. Wireless solutions are vulnerable to hackers, cabled IP systems are also vulnerable to hackers and viruses. Self-contained intranets have their own vulnerabilities and often come with a high price tag. .

Control Solutions, Inc The Adshift design requires no attendant and its construction is ruggedized with minimal moving parts. This is particularly relevant because reliability is one of the most common problems. Even with the best of intentions, systems display black screens all too frequently. Some retail chains selling ads on in-house displays have been struggling recently to not only ensure the ad schedules are met, but also to simply keep the screens turned on. Many of these rely on “sneaker-net”, requiring store staff to turn on the displays and monitor the content which often conflicts with the employees priorities.

The technology originally developed for transit, needed to be more secure, more reliable and more versatile than ordinary stationary systems. When adapted for building installation, Adshift satisfies all of the needs and requirements of non-transit customers without the pitfalls associated with ground-based systems. Adshift launched into the DDS industry with technology that addressed all of the marketplace realities before it even left the gate.

With all of the variation in system capabilities and in the potential for problems within the DDS marketplace, it’s not surprising to find some resistance to the installation of DDS from Building Managers. Digital Display Signage can be a powerful asset: it is simply a matter of understanding the pros and cons.

In order to determine the best fit for your building it is helpful to understand the different types of products available. At this time there are five distinct methods of moving digital content from a source to display devices.

  1. Satellite (Broadcasting type, microwave etc.)

  2. Direct Cable or Internet connection

  3. On location players (DVD, Tape etc.)

  4. Cellular Networks

  5. Internet to Cellular network distribution

All of the above have their advantages and disadvantages, methods one and two being the highest cost for both infrastructure and content creation. Number three requires physical distribution and on location personnel activities to be effective. Number four has distribution infrastructure cost factors and device effectiveness concerns. Number five is the newest entry and combines the best elements of the available methodologies. Companies and products in this category will require advanced software and hardware solutions to exceed the performance of the other categories in both ease of use and economics. This technology is exactly that; it not only meets but exceeds the requirements.

When choosing a system, some of key areas of consideration are:

Dynamic digital signage doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Adshift delivers the most effective, straight forward and economical digital signage system available today. Technology made simple.


Reliable Controls An additional supplement.

Digital Signage has a host of different combinations. There are essentially five distinct methods of moving digital content from a source to display devices.

  1. Satellite (Broadcasting type, microwave etc.)

  2. Direct Cable or Internet connection

  3. On location players (DVD, Tape etc.)

  4. Cellular Networks

  5. Internet to Cellular network distribution

All of the above have their advantages and disadvantages, methods one and two being the highest cost for both infrastructure and content creation. Number three requires physical distribution and on location personnel activities to be effective. Number four has distribution infrastructure cost factors and device effectiveness concerns. Number five is the newest entry and combines the best elements of the available methodologies. Companies and products in this category will require advanced software and hardware solutions to exceed the performance of the other categories in both ease of use and economics. Adshift’s technology is exactly that. It not only meets but exceeds the requirements.

Some key points about how these methodologies work.

Strengths – Rapid deployment of content / easy transfer of large files / very high signal dependability / established networks & processes
Weakness – High maintenance and expensive infrastructure / most suited to same data distributed to multiple single points and less suited to small unique data to multiple single points / individual receivers can be down when network is down.

Strengths – large file handling / inexpensive transfer of Data excluding source costs / most effective with at-location support and content creation.
Weakness – in-store (location) IT and scheduling management / expensive connections if display is outside / no mobility / individual displays reliant on up time of single server or outside network.

Strengths – lower costs of initial equipment and set-up / easy to use familiarity at location / static & full motion if display platform is suitable
Weakness – physical delivery of media to locations / reliance on staff not necessarily dedicated to application / typically plasma installed, therefore static not suited

Strengths – ability to send multiple unique data to multiple single points is less costly than dedicated satellite infrastructure / allows portability of display/ best suited to longer term display of same content without excessive schedule loads
Weakness – Costs can be high when greater data turnover is necessary / client must create own network or utilize expensive data center operation / limited capabilities in the deployed units (air card – flash storage) / results in more extensive IT needs for client or agency / not always portable if cell reception areas are subject to signal loss (such as malls)

Strengths – same as cellular but with easier deployment and lower cost over internet to multiple IP addressed units / can operate as Cellular or Internet direct connect. Cellular network and content transmission concerns can be overcome by utilizing advanced transmitting software and receiving hardware – see Adshift PDC product.

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