Web Services Emerging To Help Push Real Time Content To Signs

April 11, 2014 by Dave Haynes


The technical stuff here is way the heck over my head, but a startup just coming out of private beta would at least seem to have a service that would intrigue digital signage software companies that use browsers as players and use, or want to use, a lot of live data.

TechCrunch has a post up about Fanout making its content push platform available to the general public this week. According to company founder Justin Karneges, Fanout provides real-time data push, which ensures content is delivered to a device without delay or requiring a refresh.

Say your company is involved in gaming, messaging, delivering stock quotes or anything that involves constantly changing content. The last thing you want is your users to have to refresh every time there is new information available. Fanout’s job is to push the latest content to devices.

Karneges describes the service as being like a traditional Content Delivery Network (CDN) where files are stored on cached servers across the world and they retrieve the file from the closest server. Push notifications work in a similar fashion, he explained, but it’s for outbound push traffic. Instead of calling the server, there’s always a channel open for communication — the push.

So … say you want to visualize a selection of real-time stats on every game happening in a professional sports league on a series of displays in a big sports environment, or like the image above, show real-time cockpit telemetry from an F1 race. This service would handle the heavy-lifting of steadily refreshed data getting pushed to the web service of the content management system.

Based in Silicon Valley, surprise, Fanout is focused on realtime solutions like this CDN, providing “the kind of realtime push power that’s normally reserved for giant corporations. We believe in a decentralized Internet and one of our core values is interoperability. We want to empower organizations, big or small, with the best tools possible.”

Certainly, there are signage platforms that are showing near real-time data for things likes stocks, sports and weather, but I think in most cases the players are checking in with a central server and pulling any updates. I also think most do that based on set time intervals, which in some cases might only be every few minutes.

This sort of thing removes the complication from the CMS and servers and uses a service to handle all that. Another company, called Pusher, does similar things.

I’ll leave it to the comments of more technical readers to clean up or correct my thinking here.

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