UK-based Silver Curve has started raising money, using a sophisticated crowd-funding platform, to build out the team for a software platform that enables “top-end signage software packages” to run on low-cost Raspberry Pi-based computers.
The $300,000 US equivalent raise just started days ago and the company was already at roughly 26% subscribed when I checked today. You have to be a UK resident to join the Seedr forum and read the pitch and specs. I was in Heathrow a couple of weeks ago so I am, ummm, uh, sure that qualified me to have a look.
An “Aperture” powered computer built around the tiny Raspberry Pi board, says the Silver Curve pitch, would enable an end user to run the highest quality signage systems at a significantly lower cost than running them on a PC, but with the same or better quality of visual output. We think this is likely to accelerate the transition from paper to digital solutions and may also stimulate a new generation of applications for digital information at low cost. As well as having a lower capital cost, an Aperture powered system will use only 3 watts of power, compared with typically 70 watts for a standard PC based signage player.
This should provide significant savings in energy cost over the life of a signage system.
The Aperture system enables the signage player to be much smaller than a PC solution and it does not require ventilation. Several leading screen manufacturers are thought to be interested in incorporating an Aperture powered Raspberry Pi device within the design of their next generation of screens, thus eliminating the need for a separate player unit. Such combined screens could significantly reduce the physical footprint for a digital information system as well as reducing the cost of installation.
Taken on a worldwide scale the demand for Aperture powered devices could well be very substantial. We have existing relationships with distribution partners with global customer relationships.
The guy driving this is Bryan Crotaz, who may not be all that well-known in North America signage circles but has been around the space for ages and is well respected.
Silver Curve is already established as a leading software integration, consultancy and product development business focused on the digital signage industry. The company was formed by Bryan Crotaz, one of the leading experts in digital signage software development and implementation.
Bryan has spent the last 15 years building digital signage software and helping customers create projects with it. These include Heathrow T5, St Pancras International, scoreboards at Lord’s, UK O2 retail stores and many others. Bryan and Barry Crotaz founded Inspiration Matters in 2002 and sold it to US-based AMX in 2007. Bryan worked as AMX’s UK R&D Director until 2010.
Crotaz says development of Aperture is done and been demo’d at shows. The majority of the money being raised will be used for software integration work relating to specific customer orders, which means watering and feeding new software engineers for custom builds to work with this platform and that platform.
Sales of Aperture-powered devices are expected to start by end of summer, using the Open Splash open source signage software system. However, the broader plan is to get this out of the hobbyist and how-cheap-can-we-do-this crowd and work with leading signage software brands. “This will involve the creation of drivers for each system,” says the company, “which will take between a few weeks and a few months each depending on complexity.”
Silver Curve hopes to sell licences through a range of OEMs, who will in turn sell Aperture- powered signage systems to resellers or end users. This is similar to the business model used by Microsoft in selling Windows pre-installed on PCs.
There will be lite and full versions of Aperture.
Very, very interesting. I have been watching the Raspberry Pi thing develop for the last couple of years and speculating that someone would go hard at developing this or something like it into a legitimate signage player. There are tinkerers who have got the units to “work” and play an ordered list of videos and work with platforms like Rise Vision. But this is an effort squarely focused on this device, with a business plan that looks to move the larger software guys off of x86 and even the new generation of set-top boxes and HDMI/USB sticks being used for Android players.
Crotaz ha a long history in the space and a lot of technical acumen, so this is not some over-confident 20-year-old in a garage saying he’s got THE ANSWER. This has a real plan.
Between ARM, Android and Pi, I think it is safe to declare 2013 the Year of Disruption.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.