The European wing of NEC – NEC Display Solutions Europe – has done a partnership that sees certain NEC pro-grade digital signage displays ship with embedded Raspberry Pi modules, running Ubuntu Core Linux and pre-loaded with the Screenly’s CMS player software.
The solution uses NEC’s P and V Series 40–55 inch large format displays and modular Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 (CM3).
“The cooperation with Canonical and Screenly enables seamless integration of digital signage functionality and content management features into a single smart device, leveraging the power of the Raspberry Pi CM3 right inside our P and V Series displays,” explains Jatin Bhatt, Strategic Alliance Manager at NEC Display Solutions Europe. “Together, this creates a simple but very secure, self-contained and effective solution for digital signage applications, supporting the NEC Open Modular computing strategy.”
Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu Core, which is a stripped-down version of the popular Linux variant, targeted at IoT and embedded devices by offering over-the-air updates, built-in security and the opportunity for additional functionality and monetization through something called snaps – the universal Linux packaging application format.
Automatic updates simplify the update process for businesses that have digital signage installed in numerous and remote locations, says a press release, while the secure platform ensures resistance to screen takeover and other potential attacks. Ubuntu Core is fully supported on the Raspberry Pi CM3 to deliver a cost effective, secure and extensible platform.
“NEC’s open modular platform approach and IoT focus with Raspberry Pi CM3 allows us to push our software right into the heart of the digital signage hardware platform,” says Viktor Petersson, CEO of Screenly, “providing a vibrant yet secure digital visual proposition that takes full advantage of the opportunities the IoT offers to advertisers and other organizations to personalize content and be more interactive. We look forward to working with NEC and Canonical to deliver the future of CMS digital signage.”
The partnership is not exclusive, so other digital signage software solutions can theoretically also run on this set-up. But London, UK-based Screenly has always been nothing-but-Raspberry Pi from its inception, and has a lot of experience and insight on how to get the most out of low-cost micro PCs.
While most of the major commercial digital signage display manufacturers make and market embedded System on Chip displays, NEC is the one major to buck that trend and instead market displays that have snap-in PC modules for the low-cost Pi single board computers.
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.