Another company has entered the hyper-crowded digital signage, with the twist of using low-cost Amazon Fire set-top boxes and HDMI sticks.
Manchester, UK-based EventBeat had already been doing what it calls social signage – temporary set-ups at events – but has gone permanent with what it calls NowSignage. It’s a cloud-based, web-centric platform designed to run on light products like the Amazon devices, as well as Android boxes.
“Over the past few years, our team has worked hard to establish the EventBeat platform as a trusted supplier at events for many of the world’s biggest brands,” says NowSignage Managing Director Nick Johnson. “Using our experience from an events based background, we have already had to tackle and overcome issues surrounding poor wifi connection and over-engineered hardware when broadcasting content via the cloud. Having spoken with the retail industry, these same concerns are very much prevalent with permanent signage.”
Low cost certainly has its attraction, as the FireStick costs just $40 US, and has a monster company in Amazon behind it (instead of a completely unfamiliar one from China). But what might be the more compelling side of the offer is that the agency – EventBeat – can do the development and design of campaigns, as well as manage all the scheduling and day to day on behalf of clients.
The Fire devices run Fire OS, which is a tweaked version of Android. The stick supports Android 5, while the boxes are based on 4.2. I know someone in Rise Vision’s big user community was tinkering with Fire devices when they first came out, but this is – I think – the first signage product based around the devices.
The challenge with these services – which are essentially apps running on low-cost consumer devices – is that the ability to know how the device is behaving and remedy problems remotely is limited or sometimes non-existent. EventBeat says its platform can see live status and when and if a screen has become disconnected. Version 2 will have more controls, including live previews.
The service is sold through distributors.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 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, on Canada’s east coast.