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Project Digital Signage advertising media through internet

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Introduction to Digital Signage Project and Discussion


Digital Signage is becoming the next advertising phenomenon from yesteryears of newspaper and TV advertisements.


Digital Signage can captivate an audience in closed quarters with effective, colorful advertising media (with or without sound) in places where people "have to" watch. These ideal places are in hotel lobbies, elevators, waiting rooms, service lines--supermarket checkout line, or anywhere people would stand still for few moments.


The principle is to do nothing but advertising. Las Vegas airport terminal is a perfect example. People who are arriving and departing are bombarded with non-stop advertisements which is set in loop to repeat every x minutes. Shopping malls are utilizing this new found avenue to promote upcoming sales and special events that will attract more customers. The beauty of Digital Sinage is that one or more central location is updated and the rest of client "displays" are merely updated or receive updates from one source. This makes content updates quick.


My project is to construct Digital Signage with minimum equipment and simple programming that will allow one central "server" to include contents and the "client" will display what the "server" feeds.


To start this project, I viewed different aspects of hardware cost vs maintenance cost. And what better way to do this project by involving a web hosting? :P


The construct of this project will require three things: hardware to display the content, software to drive the content and a remote "server" that will dictate what contents to show.



Obviously, an intelligent hardware is needed to receive instructions from a remote (server) source. I haven been looking into several ways but the most easiest way is to have a small OS box that has the ability to run a web browser. Here is my plan:


a hardware with OS running a browser --> browser calls a designated server --> server relays information (ads) --> the hardware displays contents.


By above structure, I would need a bare minimum hardware with color display that is connected to a LCD monitor. And in order to receive information from a server, it would need NIC as well. To run advertisements would be simple. But to run advertisements that would require to be updated on a regular basis the update information must come through the internet.



I found DOS 6 and DOS based browser that can display as effectively as Firefox. This was amazing. But how to run this browser in Kiosk mode? Kiosk mode will hide browser's command interface and show contents in full screen. This holds more of an aesthetic value than a function value. And this DOS based browser did not have the capability. So I searched some more and came across strip down version of Windows 98 (a.k.a. Windows 98Lite).


By running a bare minimum Windows OS, I am now allowed to run IE in Kiosk mode ( F11 ) and auto hide the top menu bar. However, IE or any other browser does not enter the Kiosk mode unless a command script is running. Although it's a simple scripting I wanted to explore another option.


Then came a script to make Windows screen saver that can display external HTML page/source. I am still in making a decision whether which would be used at the final stage.



Given that a small computer operates with a browser capability. And the browser, each and every time it starts, calls a remote source to basically display. All I have to do is update the content in this remote server and instruct the display to either randomly or sequentially rotate the content. Such that, when a browser starts the default URL is set to, i.e. http://forums.xisto.com/


And this Xisto.com page is programmed to display ads according to programmer's instruction. Then any "client" that is calling Xisto.com URL would see the same ads all across.



|--------------------------- {digital signage machine 1}

|--------------------------- {digital signage machine 2}

{server} --------------------------- {digital signage machine 3}

|--------------------------- {digital signage machine 4}

|--------------------------- {digital signage machine 5}


You get the idea.


How will this benefit advertising power?

It is my opinion that by advertising in networks (in a sense of any place that is subscribing this digital signage machine) will show all other's advertisement thereby reaching even more audience than, let's say, printed materials or flyers. Of course, the locale would be important as well as the size of subscriber's advertisement would be larger than the rest of other advertisements. And since all advertisements located in the server would be shown, i.e. 15-30 seconds of intervals, the frequency and visibility would be considerably higher than the traditional printed advertisements. Compare to TV ads it would cost considerably lower and the maintaining and cost operation to run this service would be very basic as well. All I would need is to upload images or graphics to a specific folder and write a HTML, one page code, that would start to rotate accordingly.


Programming Projection

So why did I decided to post and make it with HTML? The simple answer is that I do not have to learn any other new programming or acquire new skill to make this work today. A web page can be divided to few sections: Header (displaying subscriber's information according to the location), Main view (subscriber's advertisements and promotions), (2) Quarters (showing smaller ads by others who paid for this ads' size) and (1) Half ads (for those who paid more for bigger than Quarter size ads. Screen shots and ideas coming soon...



I would like to know if this planning is logical and if there would be any trend that my project would seem successful in the future. I have a hardware that I am testing which is composed of old PC with solid state drive (20mb compact flash card), Windows 98Lite, NIC, basic VGA, and 64MB RAM that all fits into a box no bigger than a Linksys router. The motherboard is from surplus project I once had which features mini-ITX with Intel PIII 800MHz processor.


I decided to go with Windows screen saver idea at this time, since in case of emergency, my mini-pc can reboot and go to the state of Kiosk mode in 1 minute. To achieve this I wrote Windows screen saver program that can be configured to load HTML page both local and remote location. But since I want to manage the content universally (rather than updating ads machine by machine) I would be using remote location page view.


HTML can be divided to sections and each section will be programmed to rotate ads (in images or text) by reading the appropriate directory. For example, img src=server/quarter will show only in the QUARTER ad section. img src=server/half will only show in the HALF ad section, so on and so on. Once I construct a screen shot I will make it available here. A working demo page will be followed by it, soon.

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Have you considered that you will need some html/css to do the split page thing?

just happen to have this laying around waiting for a use for it. Thought it was a pretty cool page, so I kept it.
Mix and match the div's you want to get horizontal/vertical half pages or quarter pages, or a combination as you see fit.

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN""https://w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd;
<html xmlns="https://w3.org/1999/xhtml/; xml:lang="en" lang="en">
An XHTML 1.0 Strict template
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="no" />
<meta http-equiv="content-style-type" content="text/css" />
<meta http-equiv="expires" content="Mon, 01 Jan 1995 00:01:01 CST" />
<meta http-equiv="keywords" content="keywords list here, comma seperated" />

<meta http-equiv="description" content="insert a description here." />
<meta http-equiv="reply-to" content="jlhaslip@yahoo.ca" />
<meta http-equiv="author" content="Jim Haslip" />
<meta http-equiv="reply-to" content="jlhaslip@yahoo.ca" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="style_file_here.css" />
<style type="text/css">
* html { margin:0; padding:0;}
html, body {
height: 100%;
#wrapper { /* div you want to stretch */
min-height: 100%;
body { margin:0 auto; text-align:center; background-color: #000000; overflow:hidden;}
#wrapper { margin: 0 auto; width:100%; background-color: transparent; }
#wrapper_top { margin: 0 auto; width:100%; height: 50%; background-color: maroon; border-bottom: 3px solid #000080;
position:absolute; top: 0; left: 0;}
#wrapper_bottom{ margin: 0 auto; width:100%; height: 50%; background-color: green; border-right: 3px solid #000080;
position:absolute; top:50%; left: 0;}#wrapper_right{ margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 100%; background-color: aqua; border-right: 3px solid #000080;
position:absolute; top:0; left: 50%;}

#wrapper_left{ margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 100%; background-color: orange; border-right: 3px solid #000080;
position:absolute; top:0; left: 0;}
#tl { margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 50%; background-color: red;
position:absolute; top:0; left: 0;
#tr {margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 50%; background-color: white;
position:absolute; top:0; left: 50%;
#bl { margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 50%; background-color: blue;
position:absolute; top:50%; left: 0;
#br {margin: 0 auto; width:50%; height: 50%; background-color: yellow;
position:absolute; top:50%; left: 50%;

#header { margin: 1em 0; text-align:center; background-color: transparent; }
p { margin: 1em; padding:1em; text-align:left }
</style><!--[if lte IE 6]>
<style type="text/css">
#wrapper {
height: 100%;

<div id="wrapper">
<!-- use these two for horizontal half pages
<div id="wrapper_top">Top</div>
<div id="wrapper_bottom">Bottom</div>
<!-- use these two for vertical half pages
<div id="wrapper_right">right</div>
<div id="wrapper_left">left</div>
<!-- use these four for quarter pages -->
<div id="tl">
Top left
<div id="tr">
Top right

<div id="bl">
Bottom left
<div id="br">
Bottom right
</div><!-- use these four for quarter pages -->
<!-- use these two for top quarter pages
<div id="tl">Top left</div>
<div id="tr">Top right</div>
<!-- use these two for bottom quarter pages
<div id="bl">Bottom left</div>
<div id="br">Bottom right</div>
<!-- mix and match the left/right with top/bottom quarters for various combinations
<div id="wrapper_top"></div>
<div id="bl">Bottom left</div>
<div id="br">Bottom right</div>
<!-- mix and match the left/right with top/bottom quarters for various combinations
<div id="wrapper_left"></div>
<div id="tr">Top right</div>
<div id="br">Bottom right</div>

</div><!-- wrapper -->

simply comment out the parts you don't want and remove comments from the parts you do want.
Just thought I would see if this helps at all...
It tests out just fine on FF2, validates as xhtml1 Strict and goes through the css validator, too.
should be good to go for your project. I'll run it through Opera, IE6, IE7, Netscape and safari for Windows and report any problems I have. I really don't expect any, but you never know...


Tests out just fine in all of them.



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