Digital Signage – Part 3 Vendors
In Part 1 we investigated the various uses and applications of digital signs. In Part 2 we looked at the planning for implementation of a signage system.
Like most technologies out there, there are a lot of vendors from which we can choose. Each offers a variety of features and their solutions vary in cost. In part three we will look at a few vendors to help you find the perfect solution for you.
Four Winds Interactive – http://www.fourwindsinteractive.com/
Four Winds is probably one of the largest digital signage companies in the U.S. Every hotel and large scale event centers seems to be powered by FWI – and rightfully so: FWI has a very powerful system. Their setup is very similar to most others in terms of hardware. Each display has a client attached to it, while there is a central server that talks to each client. Some key features of their software that I find pretty nifty:
- Pathfinding – Using their software you can create interactive maps to help show how to get to an office, room, or exit.
- Touch Interface – FWI incorporates touchscreens to allow you to interact with the sign – clicking for more information, selecting a destination, etc.
- Calendar Integration – If you use an Outlook Calendar to schedule rooms, you can integrate those calendars into FWI software. Doing so allows for the signs assigned to those rooms to automatically update. So if you have a sign outside each conference room you can know that the signage updates for the next event with little to no hassle.
- Third Party Integration – FWI has a wide range of products that can be integrated into their system. Besides Microsoft Exchange, you can do Sharepoint, AsureSpace Meeting Room, CBORD, FitBit, Twitter, and Youtube to name a few.
The only reserve I have with FWI is the cost which is estimated at $1,800 per license. Their licenses are based on number of displays, so each display would cost roughly $1800. For what you get, $1,800 is not that bad of a price. But for what a small installation, it’s a little pricey.
X2O Media – http://www.x2omedia.com/
I have to give some credit to X2O Media: without them there is a good chance we wouldn’t be where we are with our digital signage. At the time DASNR started looking at updating our system, X2O was just being spun off from VertigoXmedia. One of our vendors became an authorized dealer and demoed this product. It was this demo that started DASNR at looking at upgrading our old signage into something new. X2O offers a lot of the same things that FWI does but “flashier.” This isn’t a bad thing. Since X2O started off from the 3D Graphics company it makes sense they would play to their strengths. Again hardware requirement is roughly the same as FWI. You need a central server and client machines for all your displays. It also seems that X2O can also run on smartphones and tablets, which is something I do not know if FWI offers. I also do not know what the pricing is for X2O, but you can probably guess the cost can rival FWI.
XIBO – http://xibo.org.uk/
What started as a final year university project in 2004 by James Packer has grown into a system that in my mind is a good alternative to the more expensive digital signage systems – partly because James released Xibo under Affero GPLv3, allowing the product to be used free of charge – which was a big selling point! Xibo offered a lot of what we wanted:. easy of use, ability to update all signs at any given time, ability to grow, and the incorporation of different types of media. As you can see, this gave us a wide range of things to work with. While it lacks some features and polish that FWI has, it gets the job done with little to no cost. Other than the the price of hardware and labor XIBO is free. If you want to use Android OS or not even host your own Xibo Server, you can buy them from Spring Signage. It is the commercial side of XIBO and was created to help fund the project as well make it easier for those who want a simpler solution without the hassle of setting up and running their own server. In DASNR, we run our own server but less than $2 a month isn’t to bad.
I would be lying if I said there were only three vendors, but the reality of the thing is there are many of them. Some starting out, some who have been around for a while. Digitalsignagetoday.com has a list of vendors. DailyDooh.com has a list they keep updated. A google search alone yeilds many results. The old saying, “Like shooting fish in a barrel” can be applied to finding a digital signage vendor fairly easily. So when you are looking for a solution, make sure you research your vendors. Some of the vendors may specialize in the larger setups like Daktronics while others focus on smaller setups like FWI.
In the final part of our series (I hope), we will bring everything we discussed together, as I give you a glimpse into how DASNR runs our digital signage system. Until next time!