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The button, arguably the most basic of computer human interfaces. The button is a powerhouse in the kiosk industry with screens everywhere urging viewers to 'touch here to learn more'. While it's true the button is intrinsically boring, it's also an essential element to a kiosk design. This blog series has been focusing on how users interact with digital signage. In this post we will explore the utility of the button and how to turn your digital sign into an interactive kiosk.

When I think of a button I envision something like this red 'push me' button which hearkens back to my days in the arcade. In the modern era, however, the button has been assimilated right into the display itself. With touch screens there is no longer the requirement for a physical button, but rather an image resembling a button, somewhere on the screen which reacts to touch.


Enough button prologue, let's create a simple kiosk.

Demonstration

For the button demo we will create a simple template consisting of a slideshow zone along with two gadget zones for the buttons. The buttons will determine which image in the gallery is currently visible. Instead of an image, this could just as easily be a video or even an entirely different template triggered by the button press.

Step 1: Create a playlist

Log in to your Revel Digital account and create a new Slideshow playlist. The playlist will contain the images to display when a button is pressed.

Step 2: Add images to the playlist

Next, we need to add two images to the playlist, one for each button. Any image will do. Set the Display Duration to 1 second since we want the image to transition immediately when a button is pressed.

Each image will need to have a condition for When to play. To do this, select the Schedule tab when adding the playlist item. Then select Command as the condition type.

For the first image use 'button' as the command name, and '1' as the command argument as shown in the screenshot below.
Conditions determine when the item will play. In this case we want the image to play when a specific command is sent.
Do the same for the second image in the playlist, except this time use '2' as the command argument.

Step 3: Create a template

We need a template for the kiosk. The template will consist of a slideshow zone along with two gadget zones for the buttons.

Add a Slideshow zone to the template and make it the full size of the template. Assign the playlist we created in Step 2 to the zone.

Add a slideshow zone and two gadgets for the buttons

Next add two Gadgets to the template anywhere you like. The gadgets will need to have their source set to:

https://reveldigital.github.io/reveldigital-gadgets/button.xml

The button gadget has properties for command name and argument

Once the gadget source is set, the gadget properties will fill in. For the first gadget we will need to assign the Command to 'button', and the Argument as '1', as shown in the image. The second gadget will have the same properties with the exception of Argument which will be set to '2'.

Step 4: Schedule and enjoy

Now just schedule your template to any touch enabled player. Pressing a button will trigger the corresponding content to play.


Voilà, a basic kiosk with no programming required!

We have rolled out a new feature to assist with managing a large collection of images. Any image uploaded to your account will now be analyzed and a set of relevant tags will be extracted. This works by using computer vision to determine what the image is composed of in terms of colors and basic objects. The generated tags are simply suggestions and can always be modified or removed.

The following video demonstrates uploading an image of a car. The tags generated include car, vehicle, and motor vehicle. Since the tags can then be searched for this makes it easy to find an image of a car regardless of how it's named in your account.


Tags automatically generated for the uploaded image
Getting physical in the 80's
This next post in our series on integrating digital signage with the physical world will focus on motion detection. In the world of digital signage, motion detection is used primarily for detecting the presence of a viewer. When no-one is actively viewing the signage it might make sense to display some sort of  'attract screen' which can capture the viewers attention. Then, when a viewer is in front of the display, switch to a more concise message. In many instances digital signage with audio can become repetitious and annoying to people in earshot of the display all day long. This can be remedied by adjusting volume or muting the signage all together when nobody is present. Some motion sensors also have the ability to determine the distance to a viewer which can be beneficial for fine tuning the activation of your signage. Not only can motion detection be used to adjust your digital signage in real-time, but can also be used a simple metric for counting opportunities to see (OTS). Anytime the sensor detects motion it will record that as an OTS and will be available in your Revel Digital reports. OTS reports are a great way of determining which content is attracting the most attention or what time of day has the most viewership.

Motion detection can provide some basic viewership metrics

Motion Sensors

Ultrasonic
There is a wide variety of motion sensors, most of which can be easily be integrated with the Revel Digital platform. The common types for digital signage include:

Ultrasonic

Pros: Can be used to determine the distance to the viewer
Cons: Reflections of the sound waves can cause false triggers

Passive Infrared (PIR)

Infra
Pros: Sensitive to heat so only heat emitting objects such as a person will trigger
Cons: Sensitive to heat which can mean any heat emitting object will trigger

Camera

Pros: Very easy to implement when using an integrated camera
Cons: Anything within the view of the camera will potentially trigger


Revel Digital Integration

Ultrasonic sensor embedded in display
There is a wide range of integration options when considering motion detection. It's important to first determine the best detection method based on the environment and the trigger conditions required. For example, distance based triggering would require Ultrasonic, but has a limited range. Infrared and camera detection has a longer range, but may be more susceptible to false triggers depending on the environment. Of course, we are always happy to assist in determining the best options for your project. Once a sensor type is determined it's important to then determine the best location for the sensor mount. In many cases the sensor can simply be embedded right within the digital signage enclosure or display stand as seen in the photo.

On the software side, Revel Digital provides a number of methods including Smart Scheduling and custom scripting for dynamically adjusting your signage based on sensor input. Simple scenarios like an attract screen can easily be accomplished with Smart Scheduling and requires no scripting or custom coding whatsoever. More advanced interactions much as adjusting the volume of the display based on distance to the viewer may require a few lines of scripting. Either way, all of the logic is fully customizable and able to be modified at any time using the Revel Digital CMS.

Demonstration

Our demo will utilize the integrated camera in an All-in-One (AIO) Android system for triggering an 'attract screen'. We will be using the motion detection with Smart Scheduling in order to conditionally play a template when motion is detected.

Hardware

The only hardware we need is the Android AIO itself since it already includes the camera.

Step 1:

Register your Android AIO player with your Revel Digital account. If you are new to Revel Digital look here to get your first device registered.

Step 2:

With your player registered in Revel Digital and running, attach a keyboard and press Shift-F12 to access the player settings. We need to toggle the Camera Mode to Motion Detection.


Step 3:

Create a couple Smart Schedules for both the attract screen and the content we want to play when motion is detected. We will assume you have content in the form of a playlist or template already created for this purpose.

First the Attract schedule. Login to your Revel Digital account and go to Schedules. Create a new Smart Schedule and name it 'Attract'. This is the default schedule that will play whenever there is no motion detected and simply plays the specified content Always.

Attract schedule
Now we need a second schedule that is triggered by the motion detection. For this we create a new Smart Schedule and call it 'Motion Detect'. This schedule will contain a When condition for motion detection. It's important to set the priority of this schedule to High.

Motion detected schedule


End Result

The camera will now detect any movement and automatically switch your digital signage content to the template specified in your schedule.


Conclusion

Motion detection is an easy method for increasing the effectiveness of your digital signage. Context awareness in the form of viewer presence is a powerful tool especially when combined with targeted content. For more information or for help getting started with your project, feel free to contact us.
This is the first in our multi-part series on interfacing digital signage with the physical world. We will cover a number of various sensor technologies and how they can be utilized by the Revel Digital platform.

Digital signage has become much more of a dynamic medium where the content is driven in part by real-time conditions and environmental context. Advertisers would much rather pay for adverts when there is a suitable context (eg. it's raining so advertise umbrellas), and when they know someone is attentive or at least in the proximity of the sign. Context can also be defined by a person physically interacting with an item (ie. lift and learn). In these instances, sensors in smart shelving can trigger specific signage based on the item of interest. There is a vast array of sensor technologies now available to meet the criteria for context awareness in digital signage and we hope this series will help to better understand how those technologies can be utilized in your digital signage deployments.

What is RFID?

The first in our series covers RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). RFID is a wireless technology for identifying objects based on 'tags'. These tags contain electronically stored information which is retrieved by an RFID 'reader'. In most cases the tags are passive devices (not powered) which derive their power from the electromagnetic energy transmitted by the reader. The tags emit their unique ID which the reader then sends to the computer for processing. NFC is a term sometimes used reciprocally with RFID, but is in fact a subset of the RFID technology. NFC is a high frequency variant of RFID.

RFID for Digital Signage

RFID is a great fit for product information displays. Someone interested in a product would either lift the product, or place the product on a designated area to trigger the relevant information on the digital signage. Both these scenarios are driven by the ability for RFID to determine an objects ID as well as the distance to that object wirelessly. Later, in our example, we will implement a simple 'place to learn' kiosk where the product is placed on or held near the reader in order to trigger the signage.

Revel Digital Integration

There are a number of methods for integrating RFID and the Revel Digital platform. Which methods to use will depend on the complexity of the use case. If, for example, you are looking to simply show a particular image or video in a playlist when a tag is read, then our Smart Scheduling will do the trick. For more complex scenarios where a number of actions are to be performed, then using custom scripting is the likely route.

Hardware Selection

There are a wide array of RFID readers on the market which can make selecting one confusing. It really boils down to how much range is required (how much distance between the reader and tag), how many tags need to be read simultaneously, and what type of tag you want to read. The only requirement, from a Revel Digital perspective, is that the reader supports a serial communications protocol (RS232) preferably over USB.

Demonstration

Our demo will utilize Smart Scheduling to show an image, in this case a shoe, that is associated with a specific tag. The concept is that when someone is interested in more information related to a particular shoe, they will place the shoe on or near a pedestal containing the RFID reader. A tag attached to the shoe will then trigger the appropriate media to display on the digital signage.

Hardware

SparkFun RFID Starter Kit
We will be using the SparkFun RFID Starter Kit for our reader hardware. This kit contains everything necessary for a fully functional RFID implementation, including sample tags.

For our digital signage player we will be using the RKM Android PC running the Revel Digital app.



Step 1:

Register your Android PC player with your Revel Digital account. If you are new to Revel Digital look here to get your first device registered.

Step 2:

Attach RFID reader to Android PC using standard USB cable

Step 3:

With your player registered in Revel Digital and running, attach a keyboard and press Shift-F12 to access the player settings. Check 'Enable USB serial port'.

Check the box 'Enable USB serial port' in the player settings
Step 4: 

Create a slideshow playlist in your Revel Digital account containing the media you wish to show when a tag is detected by the reader. In our case we uploaded a couple different images of boots.

Create a slideshow playlist of images associated with your tags

Step 5:

To associate each item in your playlist with an RFID tag you will need to define a Smart Schedule for each item with a Command condition. To do this, click on an item in your playlist, then click the Schedule tab. Add a When condition of type 'Command' and enter 'serial' for the command name. The command argument will need to match the ID of the tag your wish to use.

Add a Smart Schedule condition to the playlist item with your tag ID
Step 6:

Create a template and add a single Slideshow zone. Assign the playlist we just created to that zone. Save the template and schedule the template to play. For help with the basics of using the Revel Digital platform please refer to our Getting Started Guide.

End Result

Scanning your tags will now result in the associated media displaying on the the screen as shown here.


Conclusion

RFID is a mature technology and well suited to a wide variety of digital signage applications. Revel Digital provides all the tools necessary to implement an RFID solution easily and cost effectively. For more information please contact us and we will be happy to assist.



Along with our new UI update we are now providing an enhanced security option for your account called Two-Factor Authentication. Two-Factor authentication (2FA for short), is an additional layer of security also known as "multi-factor authentication". In order to access an account with 2FA, users must provide not only a username and password, but also a short lived token known only to the person logging in. Our 2FA implementation utilizes a a time-based one-time password (TOTP) generated by a dedicated app called Google Authenticator available for Android and iOS.

Enabling 2FA is as simple as toggling the option for any user in your Revel Digital account, then follow the steps provided to install the Google Authenticator app. Once toggled any subsequent login will require the use of the app in order to login along with the associated login/password.


These steps will appear once 2FA is toggled for a user

According to the 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 95 percent of breaches involve the exploitation of stolen credentials, many of which can be traced back to passwords stolen from company employees. Needless to say we take our security seriously and we encourage our users to utilize this feature.

For any questions or assistance please contact us at support@reveldigital.com, or just click the chat box available when logged in to your Revel Digital account.


Maintenance Details

Tuesday, August 1st, RevelDigital will be rolling out a new user interface for our management portal. We anticipate minor service interruptions during this transition. All services will resume automatically after the update. If you have any issues or questions, please contact support@reveldigital.com