The Prague-based startup SignageOS made a name for itself by developing, marketing and supporting a middleware platform that makes it easy for CMS software companies to integrate with the variety of “smart” commercial display panels on the market.
A CMS can invest 3-6 months of resource to “integrate” with, let’s say Samsung Tizen or LG webOS displays, or run it through SignageOS, which has already figured all that out, and stays on top of changes.
Now the company has announced an interesting arrangement with the one commercial display major that has bucked the embedded smart panel trend – NEC.
That company has commercial panels that can have smarts – but instead of being built in, NEC has open-pluggable ports or module trap-doors that enable software and solutions companies to pop in and use player devices like BrightSign or Raspberry Pi modules.
NEC’s open, modular approach
means displays can have an upgrade path, and can also have players swapped on premise – something not really possible with the smart displays from other manufacturers that are enclosed and soldered-in.
What NEC does not have – and SignageOS enables – is a cloud back-end and operating platform that can allow software companies to work with its open devices.
SignageOS put out a VERY technical press release on this recently, and I have tried to decode it here …
Working with signageOS means NEC didn’t need to create any software solution and operate system for its open module devices, which include the Raspberry Pi snap-in compute module, and Intel’s reference designs for open pluggable (OPS) or smart display (SDM) computing modules.
Going down this path means CMS companies, who want to use NEC displays that are part of the OM family, can work with the signageOS and codebase to pretty easily establish an operating handshake. The integration comes with cloud-based device management tools.
The other pitch is that a network that has a blend of different display/play-out technologies can go through signageOS’s APIs and target any hardware that’s supported. So a network that is a little Tizen, a little webOS and adding NEC OM displays can all be run off one CMS without weeks or months of time needed integrating (and making software and devices happy) with multiple platforms.
The flip side of this approach is the commercial version of signageOS has a monthly license cost, that would sit on top of the SaaS cost. But that gets weighed against the time/cost of the CMS making the integration work on its own and then supporting it, plus the potential opportunity loss of just saying to the prospect with the blended hardware/OS network, “Sorry, we don’t work with all that.”
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.