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Video Signage: Which solution? Hardware or Software?

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  • Video Signage: Which solution? Hardware or Software?

    Hello folks,

    We are setting up a video signage operating company to address opportunities in our local market. The target is mainly bars, pubs etc...

    Over the last few months, we have been searching for equipment providers as well as software. So far we have found that hardware "only" providers, or those who provide little software are failing to provide us with solutions that are mostly scalable.

    Software-focused companies (Software as a service) mostly seem to want to sign us up and pay "license" fees even before listening to our needs.

    So where do we start?

    To us, we wish to operate networks of video-signage specific to our target. If we feel we need to go with the mainly "hardware" vendor, we are okay to develop our own software -as long as the hardware vendor allows us to.
    We understand that they make money on the hardware, so far so good.

    Now, I have a problem with software-as-a-service providers in which, in my opinion at least, they want their cake and eat them too. Why? Here's my take on it...
    As software developers, one with a model as software-as-a-service, the providers should arrange to make their software opened enough so we, the operators, can build on it. Not one solution will address the needs or specifics of every market application. Why are you not giving us something we can work with? Such as a platform, a framework?

    In addition, should you believe in your own business model, then you could lower the bundled-hardware costs, but no, we are given $2000 a unit (hardware) prices on what is basically a computer, tied to your own software (license fees / nod), and web-application (network management costs)... Shouldn't a software-as-a-service company "help" their customers launched networks as easily and as little cost as possible, in order to capitalize on software license fees, and other server related fees?

    What is it about demanding that your potential customers (operators) pay you software license fees up to 3 months in advance? If you are cash-strapped and require your customers to pay upfront when they are establishing their networks (along with all the other expenses, unrelated to you) that it entails, your business model may not be as robust as you'd like us to hear.

    Another point is the actual application of the video-signage network.
    The price point of most hardware/software-as-a-service is still too high. Most solutions available to us seem to target the large, crowded areas, whereas the cost of a player, box will be lowered by the amount of screens that will be showing the message.
    "what about deploying micro-networks, where one box/license is needed for a node that has 3 or 4 screens?"

    We dream of a player (hardware) that doesn't cost over $700.- a unit, we can go up to $1,100, which can take a live TV stream (decode > overlays > re-encode), allows us to stick our content onto it (ads et al.) and the like (ChyTV Plus, N), while being scalable enough to later on send more rich-content (IPTV) programming (many a company).

    Provide us, your potential customers, with a FREE eval unit, even if for just 30 days. You can charge us, and refund us if we return the unit!

    Provide us an affordable SDK:
    We see SDK costing up to $1,000. Again, you want us to buy your product, don't you? Why then do you charge us to play with whatever software you provide, just to see if we can build upon it?

    It's Open Source, Stupid!
    Let us build on your software, only then can you build enough of a following to address issues, create more functionality (see market specifics) and make a software the de-facto video signage software - without costing you hundreds of man hours, and tens of thousand of dollars you could use to market your company with...
    In addition, asking us $2,000/day just to do what a local software engineer can do for $200 just isn't right, nor will it make us want to get in bed with you (read: buy from you).

    I guess my rant is finished (if you've read that far ), what solutions do your foresee? What companies could you refer us to? There certainly are many companies facing the same dilemma we are...



  • #2
    Worlds first free digital signage software


    I have read your post. Clearly you 'aint happy.

    I'm not sure whether our digital signage software will be of assistance to you.
    It is not open source, but the base product is free, and the add-ons are very cheap.

    See if it is suitable for your smaller installations. We have many users world-wide.


    Michael Marcus
    Digital Recall - Worlds First Free Digital Signage Software


    • #3

      I've experimented with Digital Recall myself and find it to be a very capable "play a loop" software. While it doesn't currently serve the needs of our larger networks, I'd consider using it in other venues. Our current venues have a 4 zone layout and the players pump out two unique channels (dual video).

      We currently use Scala to run our larger supermarket network. While far from inexpensive, it allows for some amazing customizing. The Scala Player software can interface natively with any Windows Scripting Host language. I've used VB, Python, and Perl to customize our players.

      You mention taking live TV and overlaying information. BEWARE: Some forms of this are illegal. According to my research, you can only overlay TV signals that were obtained "over-the-air", meaning antenna. This excludes all your "cable" channels like CNN, FOX, or ESPN. Scala can do this quite handily with a TV tuner and an additional licensed plug-in. I've done it, it's neat!

      Shameless Plug: More than being a Digital Signage network operator and certified Scala Partner we're experts in local advertising sales. Building the network is a tiny part of the puzzle we've found. Sales and marketing really drive DS and any price for hardware/software won't matter unless you can sell the ads. We happen to use one of the most expensive software available, but it allows us to do things we can charge more for. Oh, and it gets results.

      Feel free to e-mail me, perhaps I can be of some help.

      Ben Rinehart
      Technical Director
      AIM Digital Visions


      • #4
        Renewed Vision "PVP" is what I use, price is great, feature rich, I can get the base version for a small installation for about $400. It's really great software, and the customer service is top notch.
        Digital Media Instructor for
        Louisiana State University & Delgado College


        • #5

          Have you looked at Tiromedia? They have a hardware player that's priced reasonably ($400). You get the CMS for free, and since it's all using MS SQL, so you could build your own 'extensions' without an SDK.


          • #6
            FYI, we just dropped PVP for Sedna, and just becoming a reseller. We need major networking services PVP didn't have. It's not open source, and not much "stable" software is. Be aware you get what you pay for.

            If you're going to work with large networks, you'll be spending a lot of time developing software. I'm a retired IT engineer, and would never want to deal with developing the wheel when I can get it for a resonable price, a price your client will be paying you for. You don't buy the software, the client buys the software.

            I know a few universities using Apple's Quartz Composer and Apple Script to run some very complex systems. Both are free, and powerful.
            Digital Media Instructor for
            Louisiana State University & Delgado College