Android For Digital Signage: A Closer Look At TargetR

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The latest in our running series of closer looks at Android-driven digital signage solution providers is UK-based TargetR.

Some 30 companies have introduced products based on the open-source Android operating system that is very widely used for smart devices like handsets and tablets, all of them using CPUs based on ARM reference designs. Most smartphones and tablets use ARM.

It is likely that much of the industry will shift to ARM-based devices using Android or Linux in the next 1-3 years because ARM devices now rival the processing power of lower cost x86 personal computing devices, but at a fraction of the cost and, in most cases, size.

TargetR

TargetR is based on the JADS software platform, but according to CIO Stuart James “is a complete ground up rewrite which started in the September 2011 headed by Dr Michael Gardiner (CTO).”

targetrcustomLogoThe company was formed and incorporated last fall. The main difference of TargetR, says James, “is to allow for cross account targeting of advertisements from content owners to channel owners, with a approval system as well as built in marketplace.”

“TargetR is currently being re-sold worldwide by a variety of partners who rebrand it as there own solution (we support customised APK as well Enterprise server deployments). We have a variety of large manufacturers and existing digital signage companies now in the midst of migrating to TargetR, and will be stirring up the industry in relation to pricing and functionality.”

“Our cloud pricing  for our fully hosted TargetR Cloud is located at http://cloud.targetr.net/signup/ . Our Enterprise pricing is very competitive (license only) and is geared for large deployments and includes TargetR Server component starting at €800 per month for 200 screens + €1000 setup.”

I haven’t seen the platform, but the TargetR feature list suggests this is a pretty serious, rich platform. Some of the Android platforms popping up can be quite reasonably questioned in terms of capabilities and stability, but others appear to pack a genuine punch.

On the other hand, TargetR says it is running a really old version of Android (1.6), whereas many others are on versions of Android 4. TargetR says its lightweight design means it runs on very low spec hardware, and Android as far back as that v1.6.

TargetR For Android

Company name?TargetR Limited
Where is company based?United Kingdom
Android product name?TargetR
When released?October 2011
Product page online (link)www.targetr.net
OS version?Android 1.6+
Native player or browser-based player?Hardware agnostic native Android app, Java VLC for Windows/Linux and RaspberryPi are also supported.
Highest video resolution fully supported?2160p
HTML5 support?Yes for interactive Canvas. Playback uses standard formats for stabiltiy.
Flash support?FLV.

Flash is deprecated on Android and will no longer be supported. TargetR encodes source file to H.264 which is natively supported by all Android devices.
Remote monitoring, diagnostic and recovery capabilities?Yes

Full device information (cache, cpu, android version, uptime, next check in time, response to server, wifi connection, IP address public/internal)
Remote control capabilities, like RS-232 screen control?Yes.

Ability to put device in standby, restart device, update. Screen Saver with reverse burn in.
Remote upgrade capabilities?Yes.

Rooted devices allow silent update
Non-Rooted devices will be instructed on screen to update (silent if installed from Play Store)
Browser pop-up controls?Browser component controlled by TargetR allowing for use of HTML5 Canvas for interactivity.
Video file support, ie .mp4, .wmv?Server side encoding to standard formats and aspect ratios. 2160P content can be uploaded from source file, encoded to H.264, generating pre-optimised 2160P, 1080P, 720P, 480P and 180P versions. Client player will request from server approriate resolution.
Player side API, so you can work with sensors and other triggers?Yes.

Motion Sensors / Buttons - Currently integrated with I-Display Connectbox (buttons and Motion Sensor), standalone Motion sensor, or any key stroke emulating (allowing mapping to sequence or channel).

Camera - Supports built in and external camera for Face Detection and Triggering.

GPS – Ability to determine location of device based on GPS data on Android. Ability to target advertisements based on GPS location (GPS targeting).
Multiple content zones?Yes. Unlimited customisable zone layouts. 16 Pre-defined zone layouts
Support for live data feeds?Yes.

MediaRSS – ScreenFeed or similar
RSS – BBC, CNN, etc
RTSP – IP camera feeds
HDMI IN - Map Live Tv
Remote DataSources – Scheduled updates to content (JPG, Videos) based on last modified dates on HTTP header
Content Builder - Google Docs, Picmonkey, Twitter, Weather
Support dynamic NFC tag emulationYes, Content on screen can send links to device. QR code functionality of TargetR provides same feature.
Advanced SchedulingTargetR can “target” content based on pre-defined time blocks(10 minute time blocks, hours, days of months, month of year, days of week), as well as a variety of other metrics such as GPS, Face Detection, Motion Sensors, Button presses.
ExtensibilityTargetR offers a fully open API for Admin, Content and Players. Allowing third party systems to integrate to control functions, add content, or even write a custom player.
IP video streamingYoutube Imports, remote Data source imports (MediaRss, MP4), RTSP stream, HDMI IN stream
TargetingTargetR can target based on time, can record interactions including QR scan, Click thrus, Conversion Tracking, Button Press, Content logging on player device.

The design of TargetR Server/Player means there is a two-way communication going on, providing up to date interactions, both of players captured interactions as well as general device statistics.
InteractivitySupport for both Touch Screen and external buttons (key emulator or ConnectBox) TargetR supports interactivity via HTML5 canvas. Interactivity via Button Press can be linked to Sequences of Content.
Emergency MessagingEmergency On via interface or API
Describe the cost of the hardware and software, whether bundled or itemizedCloud Pricing starts at €150 Euros a month for 25 screens with 1080P images/480p Videos and 10Gb storage, with extra costs associated with additional content quality and storage. Automated billing and signup available at http://cloud.targetr.net/signup/

Branded player can be purchased for €200 + €50 per month.

Enterprise licensing available that includes full whitelable deployment hosted on Public or Private clouds.

Hardware can be purchases from a variety of suppliers, customised ROM recommended.
DescriptionsTargetR Server is deployed as either a Cloud offering (TargetR Cloud) or can be deployed on private Cloud virtual infrastructure (Amazon / Vmware / KVM). TargetR Server provide centralised control of all devices
TargetR Media Processor encodes all content to standardised formats for optimal playback, including generating multiple resolutions for different sized devices. Media Processor can be run on TargetR Server, or can be a standalone Queue driven addon for large enterprise deployments where a lot of encoding is required.
TargetR Android Player is a dedicated player for Android which allows content playback on large variety of Android devices. Full Command and Control of device.
TargetR VLC Player is a Java based player compatible with Windows, Linux and Macintosh devices. Full Webstart functionality built in for easy deployment on existing systems.
?TargetR RaspberryPi Player is a dedicated player for RaspberryPI capable of video and image playback
What’s nextFacial Recognition to be released end of Q3 with advanced reporting by Q4, Additional content builder integrations to a variety of third party applications.
Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

@sixteennine

Decade-old blog about digital signage and related tech, written by industry consultant and shit-disturber Dave Haynes.
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