Guest Post: Luis Villafane, Maler
In the same way that new Alcoholics Anonymous members introduce themselves to the group, I am creating a new group called BPDS (Bad Persons in Digital Signage), and making my introduction:
“Hi, my name is Luis, and I am a Bad Person.”
You all reply: “Hi Luis!”
I am a horrible person. A really & truly bad person. I am also a bad director and a bad manager. (great Dad, though!)
DSE 2019 … I have been reading all the booth preview presentations about new software and new hardware. Oh man, I do have something for everyone … So much bitching inside my head … aagh!
Lets get started:
The likes of integrating data into digital signage is a core item.
The likes of integrating external hardware into digital signage data inputs is also a core item.
Having a “smart” play-out system that it is able to decide, based on incorporated local algorithms, what it is supposed to play within an array of pre-approved material is a core digital signage function. Regardless of where the data is coming from. Regardless of the input – RFID, sensors or whatever – triggers new media or sets local variables for your new array.
None of those things should be advertised and marketed. Every single digital signage software should do it, just like playing content. These are not things to brag about. It is like saying your new car comes with a steering wheel and tires.
Also, (and although I did not read this on the DSE press-entations), let’s make sure you know it is not AI – not in a million years is it AI. It is smart scripting, it is matching lines and responses to queries. Thus, for those of you thinking about calling it AI or saying AI is getting into digital signage, stop right there.
And stop calling it smart signage. It is as smart as the programmer who wrote the script, and as smart as the crazy media agency that thought of the idea. (Yes, media agencies are crazy, and that is why we – in digital signage – are great).
Smart digital signage? No. Obedient digital signage? Yes.
When it comes to talking about scale and handling one to 10,000 systems. Really? Scale was important years ago.
I logged my 10,000th player five years ago into a single TCP port system, scheduling a month of independent schedules for 10,000 players under three hours. That was 2014. Imagine what we have done since then!
As far as device management and monitoring, if you are just announcing you have that, I shake my head. If you cannot monitor LIVE what your digital signage systems are doing, close down. If you cannot monitor your devices LIVE, close down. Stop trying… or call me. 🙂
If you were not able to do it, and now you can … don’t advertise it. It is just telling everyone else you are waaaaaay behind. I mean, really really behind…
Most CMS houses just “lie” about it. They say: Yes, we can monitor. (lies lies lies… I’ve seen what you do… and that ain’t monitoring at all) Again, refer to my previous articles; downloading a log or a keep-alive is not it. Thus, my advise … just lie!
I have also read again “display of content to the right place at the right time to the right audience.” Not like all other DS applications that play the wrong content, in the wrong screen to the wrong audience. Seriously, stop using that. I just cannot hear it again. I can feel the veins on my forehead expanding and getting ready to explode … It worked 20 years ago, but it no longer does.
One last thing on software – interactive digital signage. Where to start…
Let’s say I have a touch screen, a PC, and a browser. I open the browser full screen, remove a few scrolling bars (F11), and open my company website on it = Brand Awareness. If I include on my website a few games = fun and interactive. If put a couple of algorithms on the web for location = smart. Note, still nothing on digital signage.
Now, let’s integrate it into the CMS. I schedule through my CMS a URL address. Job done.
Let’s try again. I schedule the URL for the Human Resources Powerpoint, or Facebook feed … still not DS, but = corporate engagement.
Once more, if I schedule an html file with the components needed for local playout, that could read variables from either the local computer, or a xml feed … am I now doing interactive digital signage?
Nope. I am still opening a website on a touch screen.
Unless your digital signage player can internally manage local interaction without the use of a “common” browser engine (i.e. chrome/IE), then it’s not Interactive digital signage. It’s a browser wrapper.
Can the browser engines sue you for taking credit? Maybe. To all others that do it correctly, congrats on a job well done. (Note: we use a “common browser engine, but don’t advertise it as interactive digital signage.)
So, all of you are now hating me … That’s OK. My skin is thick.
Let me give you a positive item I’ve seen (and I will give a shout out): The TELelogos monitoring system. Way, way above and beyond. Their monitoring interface is pretty darn impressive (you do need a triple PhD in engineering, though). But for once -and just this once – I can say I was impressed.
Basically, If any of you have a device that scratches your ass, they can monitor it. I do believe they are missing a nice front-end, but the potential is incredible. (Won’t make any comment on their CMS, as I want them to like me).
Let’s move now into hardware. Oh boy, I am never getting a job in this industry …
Hardware guys, regardless of what people tell you, please give us more simultaneous 4K outputs.
Screen manufacturers, please more resolution. We need more. We have so much bandwidth, we just cannot use it all … NOT!!!
- A normal 10second 4K video at 30fps requires about 350mb. That is reasonable;
- Four 4K outputs of different 10 second content will therefore require 350×4 = 1.4GB. OK;
- If we do a schedule of 5 dayparts, and only 10 different adverts per daypart, that equals 70GB… ouch.
If I have 1 machine, that would be “somehow” ok, you know … wow factor and all … However, I have 500 machines across Europe. So, I would ultimately need to transfer 35TB. That is quite funny to think about the time and cost of that.
Wait, wait, I am now peeing in my pants laughing, because I have another network with 10,000 players … so we should start counting on Petabytes.
The only company that could probably do that amount of data is Stratacache … but just because they probably have their own satellites (you know, borg queen and all). Or maybe Broadsign would like, because they charge by media data transfer ;-]
More on hardware …
Screens that are set in weird angles, creating a beautiful mosaic. I understand it … I like it, but just don’t see it. Wow Factor for a few sites … ok … but is there really a market for that?
Explaining to clients the difference between internal LED and external LED. I was going to make a nasty comment, but I actually think it’s a brilliant idea. I do spend most of my time educating clients and marketing people on the dark side of digital signage … thus my hat off on this one. Thank you. Do as much explaining as you can.
While at it, remind NovaStar that its 4K controller still doesn’t have MDC controls.
So, my point of this guest blog entry … If I sell MALER, nobody will ever hire me … These articles will hunt me down for life.
Oh well. 🙂
Luis R. Villafane graduated from UConn with a double major in International Relations and Spanish Literature, but always worked in IT security and administration. After a few years as a systems admin and audit agent in the US Dept of Defense, Luis moved back to Spain in 2000 were he started MALER Digital Signage Operations. He carries on his back more than 15 years experience in DS, with some of the largest and iconic networks in Europe, such as the London Underground, KFC, Danish Rail, O2 Arena. He loves pointing out crappyDigital Signage Software, and considers himself a DS puritan … whatever that means.