Shuttle Marketing Stretch LCD With Built-In SoC And Computer Vision

The Taiwanese PC maker Shuttle has started marketing what I THINK is the first digital signage display product for the company – one of those stretch LCDs with a smart System on Chip processor inside.

The company is best known for its series of little cube PCs for desktops, but also has a wide range of small form factor PCs and a few all-in-one desktop monitors.  But the new Shuttle D230 is expressly a digital signage product.

It is a 23-inch “bar-type” display with a 12:2 aspect ratio that is Full HD (1920 pixels) on the width but all of 158 pixels on height. It has an ARM processor and runs Android 7.1.

These bar-type displays have been around for a long time, and as manufacturers like AUO (also in Taiwan) have figured out ways to make these oddball shapes natively (instead of cutting larger screens and re-manufacturing them to the new shape), costs have dropped and reliability increased.

I haven’t been paying attention, but think most of what I have seen on the market has been displays only, meaning a separate media player and cabling is needed. An all-in-one is tidier and probably necessary in applications like transit.

One of the interesting wrinkles with these units is they have built-in computer vision via a  camera/sensor.

“Our solution enables information and advertising messages to be targeted exactly where the decision to make a purchase is frequently made, at the shelf and without major scatter losses,” explains Tom Seiffert, Head of Marketing & PR at Shuttle Computer Handels GmbH, the EU wing of the company, in PR. “It is a smart addition to Shuttle’s established products in the areas of signage and POS.”

A version is available as a server-based solution with enhanced functions which is able, for example, to carry out an analysis of customer behaviour, taking account of eleven age levels, via the network.

The advantage of the server-based version of the D230 is that it allows content to be displayed in a much more targeted way, taking account of biometric factors such as gender and age. It is also possible to analyze how often and by which group of potential customers the various advertising messages have been viewed.

An additional Linux server can be used to edit content in a browser via a web interface. The extra features of the server-based version include the possibility of grouping multiple clients, the integrated media library on the server for content management, and the possibility of transmitting manually launched, time-limited advertising messages to the groups of machines via the web interface.

I have my doubts about the cost vs benefits of doing very basic audience measurement for shelf-edge marketing, but who knows. What I do know, for sure, is I would change the spec sheet to say pattern detection and not “biometric recognition.”

The latter tends to wind up privacy advocates and that is very likely not what’s happening here. You need a database of shopper faces to do recognition, and that is a lot more involved – and thornier – than running basic pattern detection algorithms  that look for the geometry of what the machine  has learned are faces.

I do like how the company says the standalone, non-server version has a smartphone app that allows for content upload and control on the spot. 

The most active and focused company doing these stretchy displays is Florida-based InstoreScreen, which has a whole series of “bar-type” units – some standalone and some with built-in Android and optional cameras.

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