Monday, February 24, 2014

Calorie counts on restaurant menus coming soon to Ontario, Canada

In a move that follows recent trends in the US, the Ontario Health Minister is about to announce legislation that will require QSR chains to add calorie and other nutritional data on their menus and menu boards.  As reported in this Toronto Star article,  the new law would make Ontario the first province to require nutritional information to be added to restaurant menus.

Large QSR chains like Tim Hortons, McDonalds and Burger King who already have digital menu boards in place will have an easier time making the transition.  In some cases they can look at their US counterparts and adapt the content to the Canadian market.

However the new law may help persuade some restaurant chains who still use static, printed menu boards to make a move to digital.  I am sure many CMS vendors will be making calls once the new law gets implemented.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My take on this year's Digital Signage Expo

Here is my take on the 2014 DSE in Las Vegas.
  • The show didn't feel much different from previous ones except for the venue which I found to be a nice change from the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The Sands Expo and Convention Center was conveniently located, specially for those staying around that part of the strip.  Next year it's back to the LV Convention Center.
  • It was quite busy on both days.  Wouldn't be surprised if attendance was up over last year.
  • The show used to be dominated by software vendors but this has changed over the last few years. All the usual suspects were front and center. NEC, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Intel...
  • Lots of small Android and other non-Windows devices but it all felt more "mainstream" which is an indication the Android market is maturing.  Not a bad thing actually.  Of course, there were many vendors showing off Windows based PCs like Shuttle and iBase.
  • Shuttle announced a partnership with Scala at the show, meaning you can now order various models with the Scala player pre-installed.  We see this a lot with software vendors validating PCs and providing disk images that hardware vendors so they can set up and ship units with the least amount of fuss.  
  • I was impressed with the dual-sided freestanding display from AG Neovo at the 22Miles booth.  The vertical unit featured a dual 55" LCD panels mounted back to back (one side touch-enabled, the other not).  This makes for a very thin profile (23.4mm) that looks very upscale.  Much thinner than mounting individual screens back to back.
  • Speaking of screens.  I was blown away by the Dynascan displays.  Anyone looking for exterior or store window displays should check out Dynascan.  Really nice stuff.
  • Word came out during the show that Google is entering the digital signage space via the Chromebox small form factor PCs that were recently launched.  So it looks like the Chrome OS will become another alternative to Windows.  Stay tuned on that one... Lots more to come.
  • Maybe I've been to too many of these shows but I didn't see anything that I would consider revolutionary.  Screens and projectors are getting brighter and sharper...  Software solutions continue to improve and add support for new technologies.  Wayfinding solutions are becoming more and more common. It will be interesting to see how things shape up until the next DSE.
  • Last but not least, congratulations go out to partner Seenspire who took home 3 content awards (one Silver, two Bronze).  These guys do great content.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Does Google Chromecast have a future in digital signage?

Google has recently opened up it's Chromecast streaming media player to third party developers via a new SDK and this could have a big impact in our industry.  Up until now, most of the big global software and hardware providers have stayed out of our sandbox (with the exception of Intel).  However, this move by Google could have significant implications for the digital signage and OOH sectors.

Most digital signage solutions have been moving towards low-cost playback devices.  We have seen Android and now Raspberry Pi devices that are priced around $100.  At $35, Google's Chromecast media player undercuts all existing solutions by a wide margin.  Now that any software developer can build and adapt their apps for this platform, how long before we start to see digital signage solutions that run on Chromecast?  After all, we already have apps that run on Samsung's Smart TVs.

If you are a software provider in the digital signage space, you should seriously consider supporting these hardware platforms.

Many have speculated about when we would see a major player like Apple or Google enter the digital signage space.  These companies may not have a direct interest in this market but the introduction of the Chromecast proves they can still have a big impact.  Digital signage may not be on their radar but their products will invariably end up in our space and they have the potential to be very disruptive.

Who knows what's coming next?  Next year's DSE may offer seminars on "Pushing targeted ads to the Apple iWatch".

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Swiss based Navori to launch new Android player at ISE Amsterdam

Swiss based Navori SA will be launching their latest Android based digital signage player at the ISE show in Amsterdam.  The Navori QL StiX 3400 delivers native 1080p content and features HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control). HDMI-CEC lets devices communicate together via the HDMI port so the QL-StiX can send commands to compatible screens, much like what you would expect from RS-232 on PC hardware.  The QL StiX 3400 promises enhanced performance and offers the same plug-and-play simplicity as Navori's original QL StiX 2400.

Navori has also announced the latest release of it's Navori QL CMS platform.  Version .28 offers several enhancements such as:

  • New player monitoring based on a series of predefined queries.  Administrators can create and store queries that users can call up to get a quick view of their player network status.
  •  New user rights have been added to the system.  It is now possible to restrict access to playlists (view only).
  • The software features a new add-on that lets users perform updates via USB key.  Great for Windows players that are deployed in locations lacking WiFi or LAN access.  Server based data feeds can also be deployed using the USB update method.
  • The QL Manager software application is now certified for deployments up to 50,000 players.

This latest release also features many other performance enhancements making it a great choice for all types of digital signage applications.

For more information, visit the Navori booth at ISE Amsterdam, Hall 8 stand 8K225.

Disclaimer:  Navori SA is both a client and a partner.