Dell Case Study – Source for Sports

A plug-and-play win in digital signage

Source For Sports helps stores across Canada deliver an easily deployed, customizable digital signage solution powered by ScreenScape and Dell Wyse Cloud Connect.

“Each one of our stores is independently owned by people that live, work and play in the local community,” says Paul La Vigne, the company’s director of marketing. “Every store is unique.” While that uniqueness is a strength for the company, it can also be a big challenge when it comes to deploying corporate marketing or sales initiatives across all 156 stores. “Our stores are not cookie-cutter layouts, so it can be difficult for us to drive marketing messages down to the local level,” La Vigne says.

The organization decided to address the issue a few years ago by introducing their store owners to a digital sign solution from ScreenScape Networks, a company that provides an online service for delivering marketing content to in-store screens. But adoption was neither rapid nor widespread, because the solution required each Source For Sports owner to purchase, set up and manage a television connected to a computer. “The cost was part of it,” says La Vigne. “It was challenging for the stores to purchase a stand-alone computer and a TV, and then hook it all up. And as far as management was concerned, it was overwhelming for a small local store. Our store owners are retailers, not technical specialists.”

Company searches for an easy-to deploy solution

Plug-and-play device transforms in-store displays Source For Sports re engaged with ScreenScape after learning about Wyse Cloud Connect, and a new collaboration between ScreenScape and Dell to optimize the device for digital signage applications. Wyse Cloud Connect is a pocket-size device that plugs into the back of any television or display screen with an HDMI port. The device essentially turns any TV into a digital sign with full HD-display capabilities, and it can be updated, managed and monitored over the internet via ScreenScape software, through ScreenScape.com.

“We looked at a few other solutions, but they weren’t as cost-effective and not nearly as easy to use as Wyse Cloud Connect,” says La Vigne. “And the fact that a large, well-respected brand like Dell was part of this made our decision that much easier.”

Read more about the Dell Case Study here.

With the Wyse Cloud Connect device, Source For Sports store managers can easily transform smart TVs into digital signs in their stores, providing streaming content such as information about sales on sports equipment and local community events. Currently, 50 Source For Sports stores are using the solution, with the remaining stores slated to have the devices in the near future.

Open online event: ScreenScape & Backman Vidcom

ScreenScape Connect brings Plug and Play to Digital Signage

Here’s your invitation to join Derek Gallant, ScreenScape Networks and Tom Murray, Backman Vidcom on Thursday November 13, 2014 at 10 AM Eastern for a live web event about ScreenScape and how you can quickly and easily create a stunning digital display using ScreenScape Connect.

This 30 minute presentation is an introduction to ScreenScape Connect, an exciting new initiative from ScreenScape. Derek will help you learn how to leverage ScreenScape to increase revenue at your place of business and beyond.

Even if you are unable to attend the live event, please feel free to register to receive the recorded version.

November 13
10AM EST
Register

Open online event: Discover ScreenScape Connect

ScreenScape Connect brings Plug and Play to Digital Signage

Here’s your invitation to join Jordan Chandler on Wednesday October 29, 2014 at 2 pm Eastern for a live web event about ScreenScape and how you can quickly and easily create a stunning digital display using ScreenScape Connect.

This 30 minute presentation is an introduction to ScreenScape Connect, an exciting new initiative from ScreenScape. Jordan will help you learn how to leverage ScreenScape to increase revenue at your place of business and beyond.

Even if you are unable to attend the live event, please feel free to register to receive the recorded version.

October 29
2PM EST
Register

Join ScreenScape at Dell World 2014

We are looking forward to being a special guest at this year’s Dell World, which goes November 3-5th in Austin. 07120618-photo-dell-wyse-cloud-connect For more than a year now engineers from ScreenScape and Dell Wyse have collaborated to develop ScreenScape Connect, the first stick-sized smart device for digital signage. Dell World gives us a chance to demonstrate the solution to Dell customers from across the globe. If you are able to make it to Texas next month you will have a wonderful opportunity to see ScreenScape Connect up close at one of the best User Forums on the planet. ScreenScape will have a strong presence and we encourage you to make plans to join us. Here are some of the ways we’ll be participating. Hands-on Lab (HOL3) ScreenScape will be co-presenting, along with those on Dell’s Cloud Client Computing team, as part of the Hands-on-lab 3 (HOL3) session on the topic Innovations in Cloud Client Computing. This session will repeat itself five times over two days, Wednesday, November 4th and Thursday, November 5th. Refer to your Dell World program for exact places and times. Solutions Showcase ScreenScape will be joining Dell in ongoing live demonstrations of ScreenScape Connect all day Wednesday and Thursday in the Solutions Showcase, aka the expo or exhibit hall. Dell Canada Events There are a number of great networking events we plan to hit up over the course of the week and we hope to see you. If you are trying to track us down there is one event where you’re sure to find us and that is the Dell Canada Welcome Reception, November 4, 2014, 3pm to 5pm at the Red Room Lounge. Want to meet up? Drop us a line If you would like to make special arrangements to meet with us in person please email us at screenscape at screenscape dot net to set up an appointment. Discover ScreenScape Connect! Thanks for your interest in ScreenScape and Dell. Think of ScreenScape Connect as a happy marriage of software from ScreenScape (Smart Player for Android) and commercial-grade hardware from Dell (Wyse Cloud Connect), a plug & play solution that has been designed from the ground up for a single purpose – to quickly connect any TV to the ScreenScape network and turn it into a simple yet versatile digital sign. See you at Dell World! Learn more. features_howitworks

Open online event: Discover ScreenScape Connect

ScreenScape Connect brings Plug and Play to Digital Signage

Here’s your invitation to join Jordan Chandler on Wednesday October 15, 2014 at 2 pm Eastern for a live web event about ScreenScape and how you can quickly and easily create a stunning digital display using ScreenScape Connect.

This 30 minute presentation is an introduction to ScreenScape Connect, an exciting new initiative from ScreenScape. Jordan will help you learn how to leverage ScreenScape to increase revenue at your place of business and beyond.

Even if you are unable to attend the live event, please feel free to register to receive the recorded version. This event is now over.

Video Quality

A common phrase around ScreenScape is “video quality voodoo”. Once you crack open the hood on a simple video, you realize how many variables are really involved. Change one thing and the quality of your results can be wildly different. Multiply this across an ever evolving Internet with standards, best practices, tools, and formats and it becomes apparent that ‘simple’ videos aren’t simple.

That said, there are some common factors that influence video quality more than others. These include:

  • a high quality source video
  • proper encoding
  • high resolution
  • a quality media player
  • a quality screen

h264logo


How video encoding impacts video quality

When a video is uploaded to ScreenScape, we accept any number of different source formats, resolutions, and codecs. In order to use these source videos, we take them and ‘encode‘ them to a common format and resolutions that will be used by the various parts of the system, such as duringvideo content creation, previews and the final video playback on a running display.

Why would I need to know about encoding settings?

The closer an uploaded video is to the final encoded video, the less chance there is for a loss of quality during translation. If you observe a loss of video quality after uploading a video to ScreenScape, the culprit is usually a mis-match between your original settings and the ScreenScape settings. We recommend uploading a version of your video that’s as close as possible to the published ScreenScape encoding settings.

When considering video encoding, the factors that have the most impact on video quality:

  • Bit Rate
  • Encoding efficiency
  • Compression

Here’s a solid overview of how video encoding works, along with some of the available tools for re-encoding videos yourself.


Video encoding settings used by ScreenScape:

  • file_extension: mp4
  • size: 1280×720
  • bitrate: 2500kbps
  • framerate: 29.97
  • video_codec: libx264 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC)
  • audio_codec: dolby_aac
  • audio_bitrate: 128k
  • audio_sample_rate: 44100

Chromecast vs. Connect


On first introduction to the new ScreenScape Connect, a common reaction is: “That looks like the Google Chromecast. What’s the difference?”.

It’s a reasonable question. On the surface the two devices look similar. However, under the covers the design goals and the software powering the two solutions are very different.


Google Chromecast

GOOGLE-Chromecast_main

The Chromecast is a multi-purpose consumer device, designed to do many things: stream video and music, display photos, watch movies, play games, and more.

Its primary purpose is to connect a TV with a second device – e.g. a smartphone or tablet. The design of the Chromecast presumes that there is an operator present interacting with the device – someone to launch apps, press Play, or mirror content from another device.

The value proposition of the Google Chromecast is all about interaction: “send your favourite online shows, movies, music and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Why not Chromecast for Digital Signage?

Chromecast second device 2.png

It’s tempting to think that a Chromecast might be used, out of the box, for digital signage. But the truth is this would be hard to pull off without a major re-think of the assumptions behind the device. Surely there’s a clever hobbyist out there who can rig up some way to make it work… sort of. But for your average person, it’s not a fit.

Why? The design of the Chromecast presumes that every time it’s turned on there’s an operator nearby, likely with a second device in hand, ready to interact with the screen.

With most use cases in digital signage, the luxury of assuming a live operator is completely absent. There is rarely (never?) a user available to click OK or start over in case of the unexpected. Not to mention that in a standard commercial environment, it’s both expensive and impractical to assume that a second smart device could be dedicated to interaction whenever the ‘Chromecast sign’ needed a kick. And who would do the kicking: the bartender, the retail clerk, the fast food vendor, the transit worker? They’re busy, and trained for other duties besides. The requirement is clear: The sign should work completely independently of an on-site operator.

(Out of fairness to the folks over at Google, this isn’t a knock on their product. Digital signage simply wasn’t in their design requirements. It’s no surprise it doesn’t really fit that use case. Square peg, round hole.)


ScreenScape Connect

Dell Cloud Connect

The Connect is a single purpose commercial device, dedicated to doing one thing: power a digital sign.

Its primary purpose is to operate independently; there is no second device or live operator assumed to be alongside the Connect. After it’s set up, it sits at the back of a screen and quietly does its job. Regardless of circumstances like software errors, missing resources, flickering power or loss of connectivity, the show must go on.

The value proposition of the ScreenScape Connect is independence and reliability: “Set it and forget it.

Critical for success in digital signage, the design of the Connect presumes that there is NO operator. There’s no one to turn it on in the morning, press Play, launch apps, or reconnect to the Internet when things go wrong. For the Connect, normal operation is to run for weeks and months without any direct interaction with a human being. It can reboot itself, monitor and restart critical resources as needed, update itself silently, and gracefully recover from unexpected events like power loss and lost connections.

Can the Connect be repurposed and used like a Chromecast?

No. The Connect is single-purpose, designed to do one thing only – power a ScreenScape digital sign. All other features and interactions have been either stripped out or permanently locked down through the firmware of the device.

If you need a device to sling content to from your phone… use Chromecast!




Chromecast vs. Connect?

The Chromecast is not designed to be a digital signage player, and the Connect is dedicated specifically for digital signage. Because of this, there’s very little overlap in how they are used.



Connect or Chromecast direction

Conclusion? While they look similar, the Chromecast and the Connect are very different on the inside. These differences make them suitable for very distinct purposes. For home entertainment use, Chromecast is an excellent choice. For a place of business and digital signage, choose ScreenScape Connect.

YouTube Advisory

If you are using YouTube videos in your ScreenScape display, please be advised:

A recent change by the Google team to the proprietary YouTube player has introduced unstable behavior when playing YouTube videos.

Users affected by this error may observe a black screen when playing attempting to play YouTube videos inside the Smart Player (v1) application. The black screen condition may persist for up to 44 minutes, after which the Smart Player will recover and continue. The condition re-occurs at each instance of YouTube content in a playlist.

Google is aware of this issue and is working on a resolution. In the interim, if you observe this condition ScreenScape recommends that you remove all YouTube content from your playlist (‘Unpublish from display’) and reboot your media player.

Another solution is to use hosted video templates. Using hosted videos instead of YouTube is a better choice for your ScreenScape display. Hosted videos require less bandwidth, will play online or offline, and are free of advertisements

Have questions? Please contact ScreenScape Support for advice or assistance.

New Content Features – Summer 2014

This Sunday our Product team will be introducing some exciting new tools for content creation.

In a nutshell, we’ve upgraded the user interface with new search and sort tools. We’ve also added free images and videos for new users to experiment with straight out of the box. Finally, we’ve added premium collections for industry specific content creation (like Automotive, Food&Bev, or Retail).

Video: PEI’s Finest Golf and Rodd’s Hotels & Resorts Use ScreenScape for Digital Signage



No one understands the benefits of place-based marketing better than ScreenScape customers. Here’s a testimonial from two such customers. One is the operator of luxury hotels and resorts, and the other is an operator of world class golf courses. They are also business partners and now they use ScreenScape to coordinate marketing messages across their multiple establishments.

One of the most important factors in driving profitability as a tourism operator is in maximizing each customer visit both from a revenue perspective and for excellence in customer satisfaction. In this video the marketing folks behind PEI’s Finest Golf and Rodd’s Hotels and Resorts, share how they use ScreenScape to coordinate their marketing programs and spur customer engagement.