Silver Curve Puts More Light On Its Aperture Digital Signage Engine For Raspberry Pi

An ongoing client project has me back in Johannesburg again, and this time I went through London, which gave me a sufficiently long layover that I was able to run into the city.

I did a meeting (honest) at a pub and then headed over to Regent Street to the packaged office space where Silver Curve has a team working on a very interesting project involving the Raspberry Pi. I wrote about it last week and the company’s innovative approach to raising capital.

I wanted to stop by because I have corresponded quite a bit with Bryan Crotaz, but we’d not actually met. I also wanted to see if what Bryan said his modified Raspberry Pi and software did was real or hopeful.

It’s real.

I saw this little $45 micro PC playing multi-zone content with a busy ticker that wasn’t chugging, even slightly. I saw gradients, transparencies, layers and stroked fonts. I also saw the Pi used as an interactive piece and moving a carousel style set of icons, using a touch overlay, very smoothly.

There is a lot going on here and the nut of it is that SilverCurve  is providing a graphics engine called Aperture that is something akin to an operating system for a modified Raspberry Pi, and that engine acts as a kind of middleware that would allow most digital signage software companies to get a LOT out of a low cost advice without investing in the time and money for R&D.

Crotaz went into much more detail, but to be honest, I was so wiped after the flight (I have a hell of a time trying to sleep on planes) that I actually nodded off for a few seconds during the meeting.

Yup. Did it. Lordy.

So the fact that I even remember the meeting is significant.

On the web, it’s explained this way: The Aperture graphics engine allows your existing Windows based signage software to be converted to play on mobile phone chip technology. Aperture does this by substituting the existing graphics programming with a much more efficient engine that is optimised to run on small, low power chips. Hardware devices powered by Aperture allow you to replace the PC player yet retain the same render quality and flexibility of graphics at a radically lower price. All this while retaining the same familiar front end scheduling system that runs your existing PC-based signage network.

The key thing I got out of it was that while the Raspberry Pi is mostly viewed as too underpowered to handle digital signage jobs, it just takes a lot of study, thinking, testing and tweaking to make it into a very powerful box. Crotaz says the board has very good graphics capabilities, and with the right design, the demand on processing can be minimal.

I also learned the $45 Pi – when properly tooled out for digital signage purposes – will be more like $250-$300 USD because of the additional components Silver Curve has added and the tweaks made. So it is not crazy cheap, but at $300 would be the cost of an Intel NUC mini PC, BEFORE adding a hard drive and RAM and operating system.

Something to watch. It has the potential to disrupt not only the x86 PC driven side of digital signage software development, but also all that new activity with Android.

 

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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2 Comments

  • Bryan Crotaz says:

    Thanks for coming to see us Dave. I checked the aircon, and someone had changed the caffeine injector for a rohypnol canister. Sorry ’bout that!

    Just to clarify your comment about pricing – that price includes the pi itself, a real time clock (so it remembers the time on powerup), a good quality SD card, power supply, serial port, and a good quality metal case. It also includes our IP licenses. The $45 price of a pi is a bit misleading as it’s useless on its own!

    Additionally, we don’t want to make hardware – we’d like to partner with hardware companies to license our IP to them so that they can build a cheap device capable of running the most powerful signage software out there.

  • Suraj Sonara says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Brad from Silvercurve earlier in the week and saw the hardware and aperture in the flesh,very impressed at the way the ticker scrolled across the screen not even a slight jitter whilst animations and other content around it is going on! Surprised at how much modification Apertures CMS undertook from what was INSM at the core.

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