Our digital signage system has been maturing over the years, driven by customer requests for improvement. Our most proactive customer has been Microsoft. In 2013, they started using the digital signage system within their offices as a communications tool both to staff and customers who attend their offices. As of this writing, the digital signage system has been successfully installed in their Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide offices.
In 2014 we started to get requests from Microsoft to use the digital signage system at events. We ran it at several retailer roadshows and eventually used the system for both the Xbox one launch and several other product launches. We were approached by the Windows Retail team to integrate the digital signage system into their new rollout at JB Hifi and Harvey Norman stores nationwide.
The Windows Retail Reinvention was born. A collaboration between Microsoft, Thought Studio, Iris, ID8 and Carment to reimagine how Windows and Office could be marketed at the point of sale. ID8 was tasked with designing the point of sale benches, Carment had the enviable job of building and installing the benches, Iris would create the marketing content and we would install and manage the digital signage at the stores.
The digital component of an installation comprises of a Server, three media players and eight Microsoft Surface tablets. Each of the media players and the Surfaces run an install of SignageRT our Lightweight Digital Signage Solution. The server controls the switching of the media on the devices to give an impression of content animating between screens.
Content animation is difficult to perform without expensive switching hardware, talented Thought Studio engineers have created a system that allows content to be switched within the millisecond, content can be either static images or video and there is no realistic limit to the number of screens that can be switched. We have successfully created animations across several hundred screens.
The Windows Retail Reinvention has been a successful project for all the parties involved, Microsoft has received not only positive feedback from the retailers, but in 2014 we won several POPAI awards:
- Gold POPAI Award – Telecommunications, Home Entertainment & Electrical Retailers – Permanent for Windows Retail Reinvention
- Pinnacle Award – Permanent Display of the Year 2014 for Windows Retail Reinvention
A massive achievement considering we were up against stellar competition from companies such as Samsung and Coca Cola.
Moving forward we are responsible for maintaining the hardware, this is performed via a proprietary monitoring solution we built exclusively for the activation. We have a monitoring website on Windows Azure which displays the status of every single device on the network, currently in excess of 600 devices. In the event of a failure, notifications are sent to the relevant person to rectify the issue. This guarantees that all screens are running content 24/7.
Content updates are performed on a monthly basis and are conducted overnight. New content is tested on rigs at both our offices and the Microsoft head office in Sydney. Once approved, content is pushed to the stores by our technicians, we also take the opportunity to perform routine maintenance to the machines. Stores open the next day with new content.
ome statistics, these are current as of April 2015:
- Number of stores: 50
- Number of Intel NUC’s installed: 200
- Number of Microsoft Surface devices installed: 400
- Bandwidth consumed monthly for monitoring and maintenance of the installed PC’s: 120GB
- Frequent flyer points accumulated by our technicians: 120,000