Tech Updates

This section will use to present you Digital Signage technological updates, such as:

* Release notes * Tips and tricks * Android updates
* Updates * How to? * Android new hardware
* Technical services over NoviSign system

Synchronizing units, remotely setting configuration and SSL

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Recently, we have upgraded the apps and the online Studio. We have added some powerful features:

  1. SSL encryption support (https) for the online Studio (we already had it in the Monitoring & Reports tool).
  2. Ability to remotely set a specific configuration to any player of yours. We also call it “remote config”. Now, you do not need to visit the venue, in order to change the settings of our app which is installed on your player devices. You can do it directly from the online Studio!
  3. Ability to synchronize separate units, like you do in certain types of video wall. That means you can have your screens show the same slide on the same time, but from different units (Android and/or Windows and/or Chrome OS), or combine a video or a sentence of a couple of words which will appear on the same time over different screens (please watch the video below, to understand the power of the new “sync feature”).

 
Following is a video, demonstrating the new sync feature:

Online Studio v4.2.80-0-68

  • Supports SSL encryption for better security for NoviSign users. Partners who wish to use SSL encryption in their own subdomain will need to purchase SSL license and pay for the implementation.
  • Remote configuration – we moved the “Groups” tab to be under the “Players” tab. Now, under the “Players” tab, you can find 3 sub-tabs: “Players”, “Groups” and “Configurations”. The “Players” table has a new column called “Config”.

    Players new tab
    It is supposed to show you if there is an assigned configuration to this player. The “Groups” table is the same as it was. The “Configurations” is new: on that sub-tab, you can add, edit or delete a configuration, which is actually a list of player app settings. So, how do you assign a configuration settings to a player or a couple of players? In the, “Players” sub-tab, just check the checkbox of the players you wish to add them an existing configuration (that means, that first, you have to create at least one configuration) and then right-click the mouse on any of them. A popup window will appear, you need to choose the “Set Configuration” option, then choose the configuration you like (by checking it) and press “OK”. Changing or removing a configuration from a player is done in the same way. If you remove a configuration from a certain player, without assigning it another configuration, it will retain the settings it already has. Player apps support this feature starting from version 4.3.59.

    Create configuration
  • Synchronizing feature – this feature requires only the upgrade of your player apps (either Android or Windows or Chrome OS) to v4.3.59. You also need to have an NTP server in the venue, which will synchronize the clock of all the units which you’ll turn on this feature in them. click this link to get the user guide of how to install the NTP server and apply the sync feature.

Player Apps

  • Native Android player app v4.3.59-0-62 – Added support for remote configuration settings and ability to synchronize the clock for the new sync feature.
  • Native Windows player app v4.3.59-0-62b – Added support for remote configuration settings and ability to synchronize the clock for the new sync feature.
  • Chrome OS player app v4.3.59-0-62 – Added support for remote configuration settings and ability to synchronize the clock for the new sync feature.
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Minix Neo X7-i and Auto-Start

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Minix Neo X7-i auto start
In digital signage, in most cases, 24/7 is a must. Power failures may happen and in some place they just plug off the power when they close the place in the evening. This means you need your digital signage player be able to wake itself up, or “auto start” itself.

Some Android players (especially dongles) do not have a power on/off button, so once you connect them to the power or when the electricity is back – they are turned on.

The problem is with devices which do have an on/off button: many of the TV boxes, such as the TV boxes of Minix Neo series, do have that button. So, how do they get the auto-start ability? In case of Minix, you can, physically, open the the box, remove the board and change a jumper there to the auto-start mode (as can be done in Minix Neo X7, using this procedure). Some of the Minix TV boxes, such as the Minix Neo X6 do not have the ability to be jumpered to auto-start, that is we find them not so good for digital signage. Some devices may be ordered from the manufacturer when they are already set to auto-start, as the Minix Neo X7i (make sure of that, when you place your order).

In some other devices, one can set the auto-power by software, that means in the Android settings.

All in all, no matter which signage player will you use, before you go to pick one, better check if it has the auto-start ability.

Dima.

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Yammer digital signage

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Yammer digital signage
Recently, we have added a new social widget: Yammer.
For those who do not know what Yammer is, Yammer is a social network (like Facebook or Twitter) that mostly used for internal communication within companies.

We decided to take it to the next stage and add it as a widget in our Creative Composer. We also added two 16 x 9 templates based on the Yammer widget, which you can use.
Yammer templates for digital signage
Using the Yammer widget is easy:
1. In the online Studio, in the “Creative” tab, press the “Compose” button.
2. Choose any template you like (we have added 2 Yammer templates of 16 x 9 ratio, just for you), give the creative a name and press the “Create” button.
3. While inside the Creative Composer, find the Yammer widget in the left arsenal of widgets, then drag and drop it somewhere on the canvas.
4. In the popup window, click the “Login” button and log in to your Yammer account.
5. Choose the layout (scrolling or free layout) and press the “OK” button.
6. Now, you can configure the widget. You may change its properties as the refresh interval, duration of each post to appear there, what to show and filter.
7. Watch it in Preview mode, then save your creative.
7. Use the creative as a slide in a playlist and broadcast it to your big screens.

If you want to read more about Yammer, please go to our official page of Yammer.

Roey.

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Better creative status, same screen key in multiple players and player improvement

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We have just upgraded the online Studio, the Management Console module, the Monitoring & Reports tool and the Player Apps. We have added few features and fixed some.

Online Studio v4.2.69-0-56

  • Better creative scheduling status: now, when a scheduled creative within a playlist should not play anymore (i.e. its end date already passed), its status will be “Expired” as it used to be, so far. However, when a creative is set to play in the future (by date or on a regular basis), it will show a “Scheduled” status. This will make things more clear.

Creative scheduling status - digital signage
Monitoring & Reports v1.6.2-1

  • Split the “Player Monitor” into 2 different displays (now it is a menu in the menu bar and not just an option in the menu bar): the default is the “Logical Player Monitor” which shows you everything as it was till now (if you used the same screen key on 3 different physical players, you would have seen them as one player with wrong data sometimes); the new one is the “Physical Player Monitor” which shows you all the physical players, even if they use the same screen key. The use case for this is stores which have hundreds of installations in each and use the same screen key on the same type of product to save the installation time.

Physical Player Monitor - digital signage reports
Player Apps

  • Native Android player app v4.3.51-0-54 – Added ability to get a personal parameter name and parameter value in order to output different data on the screen (currently, works based on static RSS widget; in the near future it will be a property of a label widget); also added settings to allow randomizing the player calls to the server and setting a limited timeframe for player calls to the server, in order to reduce the network load.
  • Native Windows player app v4.3.51-0-54b – Added same new features as the Android app mentioned above.
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What is the difference between Minix Neo X7i and Minix Neo X7?

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Minix Neo X7i (i = industrial) is the new kid on the block. The Minix Neo X7 (the one with the 16GB storage) is a veteran in the market for at least 3 years or more, not to mention that these days it is a hard to find hardware in some places.

However, the young generation has just come to the world: say hello to Minix Neo X7i. I was guessing that the “industrial” thing would make the TV box more robust and improved, but comparing the new version to the old one looked almost the same to me, except the 4 rubber legs which were added to the new version.

Minix Neo X7iThis unit already came when it is set to auto-power on, saving me opening the box and jumpering it by myself, as I used to do with the old X7 (as digital signage needs to run 24/7 and must be self booted, after power failure).

The main advantage of the new X7-i is that it has dual band WiFi, that means it can connect not only to 2.4Ghz WiFi networks, but also to 5Ghz WiFi networks. This maybe a good advantage, as in some places they move their router to be transmitting only on 5Ghz.

Besides, now it can be purchased easily, since this is a new model, while the old X7 is becoming more and more rare in some places.

The last thing I would like to mention here is that by default it comes with the JellyBean firmware without the portrait ability, so in case you’d like it to support screen rotation (if you have a vertical screen to be connected to it), you will need to flash it with Minix’s custom firmware. The best firmware for this TV box is the one from 15-Oct-2014 which suits also the old Minix Neo X7 as well as the X7i. Here is the user guide of how to flash your Minix Neo X7 or X7i with this custom firmware for supporting screen rotation.

Here is a video that shows the differences while comparing the Minix Neo X7-i vs. the Minix Neo X7:

The Minix Neo X7-i is still hard to find. However, you can find it in this webshop, which is an official reseller of Minix: http://www.minixwebshop.eu/en/minix-neo-x7i-auto-power-on.html
All in all, I suppose these are good news for the Android community.

Nir.

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Playlist sharing, listview for playlists and creatives

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We are planning to upgrade the online Studio and the Monitoring & Reports tool on Thursday 3rd of November 2016. We are adding few features, among them is the ability to share a whole playlist by one user to another user, which will give better flexibility.

Online Studio v4.2.63-0-50

  • Added few columns to the Creative list view:
    • Path (shows the folder path of the creative)
    • Size (shows the size of the creative in MB)
    • Dimensions/Ratio (shows the dimensions of the creative in pixel, for simple video/image creative or ratio for blended creative)
    • Duration (the default duration of the creative, in seconds)

    In order to toggle between thumbnail view an list view in the Creative tab, all you need to do is just to click the view icon which is in the right most side, in the same line with the search textbox and the filter buttons.

Creative ListView

  • Added list view to the Playlists tab (like the one which we have in the Creative tab). It has the following columns:
    • Name (name of the playlist)
    • Description (description of the playlist)
    • Duration (the duration of the playlist, in seconds)
    • Last Modified (the last date when the playlist was modified)
    • Slides (how many total slides in this playlist and how many of them are scheduled)
    • Players (a number that tells to how many different players this playlist is assigned; the number is clickable and will show you the player names)

    In order to toggle between thumbnail view an list view in the Playlists tab, all you need to do is just to click the view icon which is in the right most side, in the same line with the search textbox and the filter buttons.

Playlists ListView

  • Added a “Re-add” button to the Playlists tab, while in edit mode (allows you to add the same chosen slide to the playlist again and again).
  • Ability to share a whole playlist with another user (the Share button appears in edit mode of any playlist).

    Sharing a playlist with another user is similar to sharing a creative, but has some slight differences. You choose with who to share. The other user cannot alter the shared playlist, s/he can either just use it in his/her players or duplicate the playlist to have his/her own playlist which can be editable (duplicating a shared playlist will create all its elements in the target account.

    A shared creative has a blue bar and special icon in the original account and a special icon in the target account, to make it look different than other non-shared playlists.

Share playlist and re-add button

  • Added the Yammer widget (social network for internal communication in organizations). A separate post will be published, regarding this new widget.

Monitoring & Reports v1.6.1-0

  • Old players which have just been reconnected, will show green status within 45 minutes after the reconnection.
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Creative alignment, new app features and social audit control app

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We have just upgraded the online Studio and the player apps. We have added an alignment feature for the creatives, few abilities for the player apps and made some bug fixes and launched a Beta version of our Social Audit Control app.

Online Studio v4.2.55-0-42

  • Ability to align the creative in the screen (good for video wall effects).
  • Bug fixes.
  • Foundation for the coming Yammer widget (Yammer is a social network for organizations).

Creative Alignment feature
Inside the Creative Composer, in the creative properties in the right pane, you can now see a new button, between the “Aspect Ratio” button and the “Stretch to display” checkbox. This button also appears in any simple image/video creative as well.
Once you click it, in the popup window you can choose where to align the widget in the screen (you have 9 places, as it is a 3 x 3 grid). This ability is useful especially in cases of video walls, where you have to align the creative to a certain location inside the screen. We do not provide a video wall feature, but using a 3rd party video wall switch together with this ability can provide nice results.

Player Apps

  • Native Android player app v4.3.41-0-44 – support for the creative alignment ability; prevent displaying corrupted files by comparing a file signature to the server; better handling with time and local clock issues; ability to run a 3rd party app from within the NoviSign app; please notice that the “Resume Playlist” feature doesn’t work – it will be fixed in the next version.
  • Native Windows player app v4.3.42-0-44b – support for the creative alignment ability; prevent displaying corrupted files by comparing a file signature to the server; Ability to run the app in extended displays; please notice that the “Resume Playlist” feature doesn’t work – it will be fixed in the next version.
  • Air player app v4.2.39-0-28 – bug fixes.
  • Chrome OS player app v4.3.41-0-44 (same as the Android app) will soon be uploaded to the Chrome Web Store.

How to launch the 3rd party app from within the NoviSign native Android app?
In order to launch a 3rd party app from within the NoviSign Android app, we have added a new setting called “Launch on Touch” (under the “Play Mode” block). If you turn it on, you’ll be able to fill another new setting called “Application To Launch” in which you need to type the Android package name of that 3rd party app. Now, every time you touch the screen when the playlist is running, it will take NoviSign app to the background and will launch that 3rd party app.
We have added another setting called “Disable interaction in WebPage widget” (also, in the “Play Mode” block). The default is off, but if you turn it on, it will prevent clicking the the webpage widget on the screen (and by this way will not interfere with the touch ability for launching the 3rd party app).

How to run the native Windows app in extended displays?
In order to run the native Windows app in more than one instance, you need to create multiple shortcust for the app (each with a different name). In the shortcut properties (right-click the shortcut and choose “Properties”), in the “Target” textbox, where you have the execution file path (something like “C:\Program Files\NovisignFX\novisign.exe”), you have to add an instance ID, the parameter will be –instanceId=MyFirstInstance, for example. So the new path should be (in this example): “C:\Program Files\NovisignFX\novisign.exe” –instanceId=MyFirstInstance (please notice that the parameter that starts with 2 dashes, is after a space after the quotes). In the second shortcut, the instance ID parameter should have a different value, for example: –instanceId=MySecondInstance
Now, if I have a main screen and 2 more extended screen (total of 3 screens), the first shortcut should have no further parameters, besides the instanceId. However, the 2 other shortcuts should have 2 more parameters to tell them where to locate the top left corner of the app. If my PC screen resolution is 1366 x 768p, I will add the following parameters to the shortcut of the 2nd app shortcut (the first extended screen), after the exe command: –screenX=1366 –screenY=0 (now, this will start the app in the 0,0 point of the 1st extended screen); I will add the following parameters to the 3rd app shortcut (the second extended screen), again, after the exe command: –screenX=2732 –screenY=0 (now, this will start the app in the 0,0 point of the 2nd extended screen); the main screen doesn’t need those parameters.Social Audit Control App

Beta version of the Social Audit Control app

We have launched a beta version of a social control app, which can be used in any smartphone’s browser. The app is in preliminary version and will soon be in white label mode as well.
Currently, it can audit only creatives with the Twitter widget.
The app URL is http://app.novisign.com/content-management/frontend-content-management
We will be happy to get some initial feedback before we go on with this app.

In order to include a creative in audit mode, you need to change its “Social Auditing Properties” setting from “none” to either “Blacklist” or “Whitelist” (blacklist means it will show all the feeds except what you specifically disapproved in the app; whitelist means it will not show any feed except what you specifically approved in the app). In the app you can choose a creative which has a Twitter within and approve or disapprove the feeds.

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HDMI screen status feature and Instagram is back

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We have just upgraded the online Studio, the monitoring & reports tool and the player apps. The Instagram is partially back, in private mode. That means, after dragging the Instagram widget to the canvas while in the Creative Composer, you now have to log in to the Instagram (like you do need when using the Facebook and Twitter widgets). You can either follow the user which you logged in with (and only that user) or follow hashtags of that user (and only of that user). We are still trying to find a way to obtain the public ability of the Instagram (to be able to follow other users and follow hashtags of all users) which is not so easy to get by API from Instagram anymore.

Another cool feature which we have added is the ability to know, using the HDMI port, if there is an active screen connected to your Android player. Till now, you could tell if the Android player was running a playlist or not (even if there was no connected screen or the connected screen was off). Now, if someone turns that screen off, you can tell! This feature works only on some of the Android players such as Minix Neo X7, Minix Neo X7 mini, EnyBox MK908, Tronsmart MK908II and others.

Online Studio v4.2.43-0-30

  • Support for the revised Instagram widget.

Monitoring & Reports v1.6.0-1

  • Added the HDMI feature as a new column called “Screen Status”. The values can be “connected” in case of connected screen which is on; “disconnected” in case there is no connected screen or the connected screen is off (for the case of turned off connected screen that shows “off”, you need a display that supports CEC) or ; “N/A” in case of a player which we cannot identify its HDMI signal or has an older version of the player app. If you refresh the player monitor, you’ll see that the screen status column is refreshed in a very short interval (1 – 3 minutes).

Digital signage HDMI screen status
Player Apps

  • Native Android player app v4.3.25-0-30 – support for the revised Instagram widget; support for the HDMI feature; fix for the black screen bug after reboot.
  • Native Windows player app v4.3.26-0-30b – support for the revised Instagram widget.
  • Air player app v4.2.32-0-21 – support for the revised Instagram widget.
  • Chrome OS player app v4.3.25-0-30 (support for the revised Instagram widget) will soon be uploaded to the Chrome Web Store.
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Seemetrix and NoviSign Integrate Audience Measurement and CMS Solutions

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Seemetrix and NoviSign are glad to present a mutual solution: Seemetrix, together with a NoviSign Android based player, allows not only to make sure the commercial reaches its targeted audience, but also to analyze screen’s effectiveness through real time data collection.Seemetrix audience analytics

Seemetrix collects data on the age and gender of the viewer, the duration, date and time of views. The real-time data is available in a personal account where the user can analyze gathered statistics using descriptive diagrams and graphs at any convenient time.

The integration allows to display the right ad to the right person. By recognizing who is standing in front of the screen (and camera), the integrated solution can trigger the appropriate ad. Different ad for woman, man, adult, kid, young and senior. It works on almost every webcam(!), competitive price and was tested successfully with Android based Minix Neo X7 (NoviSign’s favorite model). Seemetrix Minimal system requirements for Android device are: 1. Android (4.0 or higher); 2. CPU: quadcore A9/ dualcore A15; 3. 1GB RAM.

“To start working with Seemetrix is all too easy – the user only needs to install Seemetrix app on the existing Android device” said Irina Magdenko, the project manager of Seemetrix. “The only peripheral needed is a webcam”.

Digital signage with audience analytics

Digital signage with face recognition

The solution is currently available on Google Play. Here is a link for Seemetrix app and here is a link for NoviSign native Android app.

Here is a demonstration video:

About Seemetrix
Seemetrix is a web-based analytics service developed by 3DiVi company – the leading computer vision company focused on development of computer vision solutions for video surveillance systems, digital signage, and virtual reality. Seemetrix collects anonymous audience data (gender, age group and attention time) from digital signage screens and helps analyze advertising effectiveness using descriptive diagrams and graphs from the statistics dashboard in a personal account. When integrated with the CMS, Seemetrix can be used to target advertising and to show certain commercials to certain groups of people and, thereby, provide consumers with more engaging brand experiences.
The Seemetrix app can be installed on the existing Android device with connected or built-in camera.

If you want to learn more about camera integration and other available solutions, please go to this page.

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MXQ and MXQ Pro – Android digital signage players

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Recently we updated our recommended Android digital signage hardware page with the hottest TV boxes in the world: the MXQ and the MXQ Pro.

MXQ and  MXQ Pro
What’s so special about the MXQ? You guess right. The price! You can obtain them for 30 – 50 USD each. Retail price. No wonder they are “breaking” the market.

After specializing with the Minix TV boxes, we decided to explore the new MXQ and MXQ Pro.
The basic MXQ and the MXQ Pro (1GB) are easy to be purchased, but the MXQ Pro with the 2GB RAM is more hard to find (and has better performance than the 1GB RAM).

Their specifications are: Quad core Android TV box, AMLogic S905 (MXQ Pro) or S805 (MXQ) processor, 1GB RAM (2GB in some of the MXQ Pro), 8GB storage, Android 4.4 (MXQ)/5.1 (MXQ Pro), full HD (MXQ)/4K (MXQ Pro), WiFi 802.11, RJ45, HDMI, 4 x USB, SD card slot, audio jack, AV jack, IR remote control and power supply.

Please notice that the market is full of fake MXQ devices. It’s not so easy to tell what is genuine and what is phony.

Here is the unboxing video of those devices:

They all have good performance and here are some other insights we got:

  • For all those devices, the “Video To Video Transition” setting must be set to “Background”.
  • The basic MXQ still has some video issues, hence we recommend of using the MXQ Pro instead.
  • In the basic MXQ, in order to improve the RSS scrolling, it must be set to “Accelerate Text Animations” as “off”.
  • It seems that the none of them can play more than one video at the same time on the screen. If you try to do it on the basic MXQ, you might get stuck with an error message which will disappear only after you restart the device.
  • They might need to be connected to a working screen all the time, in order not to shut down.
  • Rotation Works only on the basic MXQ, but has some issues. For now, better not use the screen rotation.

We will keep exploring the MXQ as we do with other Android, Windows and Chrome OS devices and will update more conclusions from time to time.

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