The platform is the world’s first Pi4 OS for digital signage, the company says, with support for HEVC video playback (so it can do 4K) and full dual display support.
The company has been around since the early days of the Pi micro PC, and has evolved from a hacker project into a commercial company that has native player software for the Pi and 1,000s of screens on the platform.
The early versions of the Pi are still supported, and progressive new versions just required software tweaks to be supported. Florian Wesch of info-beamer says the Pi4 changed all that and required a major rewrite.
“It includes some fundamental changes in how talking to the underlying hardware works,” Wesch explains. “Instead of the closed source Broadcom OpenGL driver, it’s now Mesa3D. OMX for hardware video decoding is now considered obsolete, so MMAL should be used now. And, of course, the addition of the HEVC hardware decoder, which is accessed in a completely different way compared to the still-existing H264 decoder.”
The rewrite took all summer, but Wesch says the effort was worthwhile, with a first version of the OS coming out today that supports dual display video output and hardware accelerated HEVC decoding.
“No other software offers the former at the moment and the only other software capable of decoding HEVC is Kodi (home theater software) right now. But that only plays videos on a single screen and info-beamer manages to play HEVC-encoded content across two screens as well. This allows users to easily create a two screen video wall, showing videos with the full native resolution across both displays.”
When the Pi first came out, intended as a low-cost learning tool for schoolkids, the commercial interest in the micro PC was almost all about the price. But the hardware has grown progressively more powerful and capable.
Bryan Crotaz, whose own company Silver Curve has been working with the Pi since its first version, says the Pi4 is jaw-droppingly powerful for something that costs $35 USB barebones.
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.