Taiwan’s VIA Technologies has done a significant upgrade on its line of ruggedized Android digital signage players, releasing what it calls the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI system.
The $400 MSRP units are run off the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform and Android 8.0. Previous versions, while powerful, were several generations back at Android 4.4. The new boxes also include the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK for artificial intelligence applications – which I am guessing (totally) would be good for working with things like IoT sensors and cameras.
The VIA ALTA DS 3 harnesses the cutting-edge compute, graphics, and AI processing capabilities of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820E Embedded Platform to facilitate the creation of vibrant new user experiences by allowing customers to combine their own AI applications with immersive multimedia signage display content in a compact, low-power system.
In addition to dual 4K display support, including dual display mirror & independent video playback modes, the system also delivers rich network connectivity through its Gigabit Ethernet port plus a choice of Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.1 or 4G LTE wireless integration options. Its durable small form factor chassis also offers flexible camera and I/O peripheral expandability through its three USB 3.0 ports, one Mini USB 2.0 port, and one miniPCIe slot. Other features include 4GB POP LPDDR4 RAM, 16GB eMMC flash memory, one M.2 slot, one SD card slot, and line-out and mic-in audio jacks.
To facilitate software and AI application development, the VIA ALTA DS 3 comes with a BSP featuring Android 8.0 which includes the Qualcomm® Neural Processing SDK for artificial intelligence designed to help developers run one or more neural network models trained in Caffe/Caffe2, ONNX, or TensorFlow using the CPU, GPU or DSP.
“The VIA ALTA DS 3 provides tightly-integrated system platform that accelerates innovation at the edge for multimedia-rich New Retail applications that boost customer convenience and engagement,” says Richard Brown, Vice-President of International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “With its flexible hardware and software customization options, the system can be optimized to meet your exact edge AI installation requirements while providing the scalability required for future enhancements.”
I did some work with VIA and the big pitch for them is that they can guarantee the availability and control of a build for a product for years, not weeks or months like the set-top boxes and sticks from Shenzhen that could vary in parts and firmware even within the same shipment.
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.