Ayuda's OpenSplash Player SMIL-based, touted as new standard

February 1, 2011 by Dave Haynes

So now I know why Adrian Cotterill has been in Montreal a lot in the past year. Mr. DailyDOOH is touted as the inspiration and champion of Ayuda Media Systems’ newly announced OpenSplash free digital signage player.

There is now a release on the new product, which was announced during a presentation by Ayuda’s CEO yesterday in Amsterdam.

Dubbed OpenSplash, it is a free, multi-platform open source player that can be driven by any content management and scheduling system.

“Offering a free, open source media player will enable a new wave of innovation in the signage industry,” said Andreas Soupliotis, President & CEO of Ayuda.

“There are a multitude of software vendors in the space that basically all do the same thing – push content from a content management system (CMS) to a network of players. Some do it a little better than others but the differentiation of identity is just not there. If there were a standard open software player that the industry rallied behind then everyone could focus on innovating next generation signage opportunities. Each year at DSE, ISE and Screenmedia Expo you’ve got the same vendors showing marginal improvements on their software. Innovation is stagnant. OpenSplash might hopefully change that. By embracing a copyleft-oriented mindset, we expect to see exciting innovations and extensions to the player developed by an open-source community.”

Note – I had to look up copyleft, which is a play on the term copyright, effectively meaning the opposite (as in “free”). It also means all enhancements to the core player functionality must also be made open source.

Soupliotis continued by explaining some of the benefits of OpenSplash: “Larger digital networks often opt to build bespoke CMS and players. These kinds of networks could cut their development costs by extending an already-existing open source player. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Besides, the secret sauce for these networks lies in their complex CMS, not in the player.”

He added: “Screen vendors also stand to benefit from OpenSplash. They can focus on what they know how to do best – hardware while potentially bundling a free open source player.”

Soupliotis also believes that DOOH aggregators benefit from OpenSplash: “Aggregators should also like to see an open source player, as it means they would not have to perform silos of one-by-one integration efforts with each software vendor in order to fulfill campaign execution. More importantly, they will be able to deliver a single proof-of-play report to the advertiser across several networks for a single buy.”

Aside from operating as a simple SMIL-based player by consuming SMIL playlists and content, OpenSplash can also double as a more intelligent rules-based player that can manage dynamic loops and create playlists on the fly. Supporting video walls, frame synchronization across multiple players, zones, and dynamic content, it is designed to be driven by any SaaS-based CMS because the player consumes a set of standard Web services for pulling schedules and content. The source code that makes up OpenSplash is written mostly in the modern C# programming language, and is built on open and platform-invariant standards such as Mono, FFMpeg, and MPlayer. As with most signage players, it has full support for H.264 1080p video, flash, HTML5 and many other formats. It runs on Linux, Windows and Android operating systems.

OpenSplash is a project that was inspired and championed by Adrian Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief of DailyDOOH. Cotterill commented on OpenSplash: “There’s no doubt in my mind that this initiative will kickstart even more innovation in our industry. Screen manufacturers will be able to build robust players that support every inch and every feature of their displays, online aggregators will be able to collect data direct from players and network management tools will be able to better collect proof of play information, to name but a few uses.”

Cotterill added: “This initiative will also attract new developers and even bring academia into the fold, fostering even more innovation. This is truly an exciting announcement.”

OpenSplash will be made available to the general public in Q2 of 2011. Current efforts include implementing an open source community portal for support forums, shared source code control, knowledge base articles, versioning of enhancements, and code documentation.

Pretty interesting development. We saw NEC come out with Vukunet, its idea on a universal advertising player that could work in parallel with any Windows-based DS platform. But this is a full, evidently quite robust player, whereas the Vukunet player is something of a widget that takes over a screen, plays its ads, and then minimizes again – the incumbent digital signage software still playing away in the background.

I don’t spend my days thinking about software so the implications of this don’t come rushing to mind. I’d love to hear and read what some of the people within software companies think.

A move to standardization is sorely needed in several aspects of this industry, but of course, there are countless vested interests in what those standards are and who already has them in place.

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