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.
Back in May, 16:9 related the story of a Costa Rican digital signage solutions company that, like many, had been adjusting its business and offer to deal with the pandemic. I liked, at the time, that the company was not just taking something from China and reselling it.
Four months later, I checked in with Adrian Carmona of Idea Media, to find out how things have gone. As it turns out, they really went in the opposite direction of reselling finished goods from overseas – from their own powder-coated enclosures to their own printed circuit boards.
We redesigned our unit inside and out in order to outperform everything we knew that was out in our market, at least.
It’s now a standalone powder painted 100% metal unit – made in Costa Rica – which means that it is built using 99.62% renewable energy – something we feel very proud of. With this pandemic, we tend to lose sight of the important long-term issues, like social responsibility in our corporate value chain.
Our units now hold a total capacity of 7 liters in a tank ,and we upgraded to a Full HD 13” 1920 x 1080 Screen – with an agnostic player system (HDMI input) and also available with USB content update support. We have made it easy, so that these units can be integrated into any existing network of any operator – because within the space inside we can place anything from a PI to a XD or a NUC – which is also the beauty of our units – not being married to any one software or Android software I must say.
We have developed and are building our own PCB boards, which makes our units modular and service is very easy – any parts can be easily and simply exchanged. A rugged unit built to last (because we will be using them for years to come, I’m certain).
The units still maintain an aesthetic design that looks good, and also differentiates us. It does not compete with the store design, but complements it.
You might a 22-inch screen is better than a 13-inch, but the way we see it, to walk into a store and have your eyesight blocked by a 22-inch unit is not highly appreciated. Also the vast majority of stores have very limited floor space. What is trying to be achieved is that the customer sanitizes their hands before they touch anything within the premises, to avoid cross contamination. A unit placed on a remote or distant wall loses, we think, a lot of its purpose.
Our belief is subtle but direct – a much better approach nowadays to use advertising, especially when you combine it with a caring service which the end-user will appreciate.
One main development is the capability not only to sense the actual amount – measured not estimated – of alcohol in the tank, but also to notify both positive and negative measurements and or events. This means that we can help save a lot of time and effort of service personnel walking (or even worse – traveling – carbon footprint) around to fill-up units. Instead, by just looking into the web-based control panel, they can determine which units need refilling and establish a route.
We also coded in “negative notifications” – which to us are the peaks or increase in levels that were not authorized. That basically means the unit was tampered and refilled.
This last feature is specially important to operators that will use our dispensers as a complete service, including providing the alcohol or if they are charging only for usage. Or companies that want to promote their own product and need to be certain it’s only their product being dispensed. A tamperproof lock is outdated. It’s 2020 … let’s use technology.
I’ve liked what these guys are doing because, as stated, they didn’t just take stuff shopped over from Shenzhen, and steadily tweaked the design and final product to align with real-world needs – versus using something that existed well before COVID-19 turned up.
I also like that the company has images of units out in the wild. I’ve wondered, in writing, how wide the adoption is for screen/dispenser units, and have had some good feedback that they are indeed getting ordered and shipped.