New Social Media collection

One of the more popular uses of digital signage is to promote audience engagement on social media. So it’s no surprise that one of the more frequent requests we hear from our members is “more social media templates!”.

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Social Media collection

Today, ScreenScape is releasing a new collection of social media themed templates, available immediately to all members. The usual suspects are all represented: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

These templates will give content creators a head start on creating social media themed content, with simple fill-in-the-blank options for customizing to their social handles, brand and message.

You’ll find the new collection under ‘Social Media’, whenever you create new content on ScreenScape.

Dell Wyse Cloud Connect Delivering Results as Digital Signage Media Player

Dell logoTo succeed in the technology business you need to have good partners. Since being introduced to the Dell Wyse Cloud Connect back in 2013 when it was still called Project Ophelia we have enjoyed a productive and mutually beneficial partnership with the great team at Dell. Dell is known widely as one of the world’s leading computer hardware vendors and as a trusted name in delivering enterprise technology solutions. As much as we love their hardware, having worked with various Dell teams across North America, including the Wyse team in Santa Clara, California, the Cloud Client Computing Group in Round Rock, the Dell Canada team here in Canada, and many others along the way, I can honestly say it’s the people of Dell and their commitment to this solution that have been the most impressive aspect of the partnership.

Today Dell Canada released a statement about their partnership with ScreenScape. It profiles our joint solution, which we call ScreenScape Connect, and highlights two leading customers; Source for Sports and Murphy’s Pharmacies. My favorite line in the entire article is: “[This innovative technology] makes the management of digital signage easy and cost-effective for businesses of all sizes, allowing them to reduce deployment costs while addressing the need for secure tamper-proof hardware and software.” That pretty much sums it up right there.

Thank you Dell for being a great partner! The right technology solution for digital signage requires a happy marriage of hardware and software and we’re glad that we found you. Thanks for doing such a great job with Cloud Connect. Thanks for embracing our high standards in the areas of security, scalability, and ease-of-use and for working with us to tailor the solution for the needs of the professional digital signage industry.

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For those of you discovering us for the first time, Dell Wyse Cloud Connect is a pocket-sized device that plugs into the MHL/HDMI-port of a television or other screen to display digital content in Full HD. Organizations can update, manage and monitor their devices through ScreenScape.com to deliver localized content to specific retail outlets. Non-technical retail store managers can set up the system quickly, easily and affordably to achieve professional-looking, on-screen promotional material in their store that can be changed or updated at the touch of a button.

Read the full Dell announcement here.


Case Studies

Read a Dell Case Study about Murphy’s Pharmacies or Source for Sports.

Solution Brief

For a general overview download this Solution Brief.

Dell Case Study – Murphy’s Pharmacies

Prescription for success

Murphy’s Pharmacies easily shares health information and increases sales with instore digital signage solution powered by ScreenScape and Wyse Cloud Connect.

When patients get new medical prescriptions at Murphy’s Pharmacies locations, they usually have a brief wait between the time their order is placed and the time it’s filled. But the growing retail pharmacy chain, which has 11 locations in Prince Edward Island, Canada, doesn’t see that as a problem. Instead, the company views it as an opportunity to educate people and promote health and wellness.

The solution delivers digital content to waiting area screens. Murphy’s Pharmacies chose ScreenScape, a leading cloud-based software solution, to distribute digital signage content to screens mounted strategically within a place of business. The ScreenScape solution uses Wyse Cloud Connect, a compact device that is plugged into the HDMI/MHL port of a television or other screen to display content in full HD. Organizations can also update, manage and monitor the solution through the ScreenScape website at ScreenScape.com.

“When we advertise sale products on our in-store screens, people definitely notice and we’ve seen higher sales in those pharmacies.”

– Heather Maclean, Sales & Marketing Manager, Murphy’s Pharmacies

Read more about the Dell Case Study here.

Murphy’s Pharmacies initially implemented Wyse Cloud Connect devices in five of its pharmacy locations, displaying point-of-sale marketing content on screens in prescription waiting areas. The company also implemented the solution in two of its walk-in medical clinics, for patients waiting for medical appointments. Another screen powered by ScreenScape and Wyse Cloud Connect is featured in the organization’s multipurpose community center. Now, patients waiting for prescriptions or appointments can view the latest healthcare news, advertisements for products on sale in the front of the pharmacy, and information on local charities and upcoming wellness events.

New to ScreenScape? Sit back and watch these videos.

If you are new to ScreenScape and looking to learn more here’s an easy way to get started. Here’s a few short videos that can walk you through the basics.

The Promo:

This helps to show how much we’ve simplified the process of getting started with place-based media.


The device demo:

Take a closer look at the world’s first smart device for digital signage.


The software demo – one location:

This is how local merchants aka “Venues” create and publish content.


Managing content across multiple locations with ScreenScape for Groups:

Organize your locations and centrally distribute content as massively or as selectively as you like.


Advanced – Integrated Device Management with Platinum Control:

Monitor and manage the physical devices in your network.


So I’m connected, what now? The ScreenScape Eco-system chalk talk:

Involve your industry and community partners in your on screen messaging for fun or for profit.

Still want more?

CBC and ScreenScape team up to offer digital content services for your place of business




Like most Canadians I know, the team here at ScreenScape grew up watching and listening to the CBC. From Radio-Canada, to award winning news journalism, to highly rated sports broadcasts, and an obvious dedication and commitment to local communities right across the country, there are no shortage of reasons to love the CBC.

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is also a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and they’ve proven that again today in announcing an exciting new partnership with ScreenScape. Premium CBC video news content will soon be available on ScreenScape!

In 2014 we worked hard to make it easier and more cost-effective for you to connect any screen to the ScreenScape platform. Ease of content management is top of mind to start off 2015. Today we are announcing an exciting new partnership with the CBC that promises to make it easier and more cost-effective to fill your ScreenScape playlist with a variety of engaging and informative video feeds from the very best in the business.

Professionally curated news video works very well inside a place of business – a store front, a show room, a lobby, lounge, or waiting room – providing engaging news video to complement a playlist that otherwise is full of your own onsite promotions.

Two levels of programming

This new joint offering will see ScreenScape offer its members two levels of CBC programming. A standard package will supply daily videos of news, sports and arts & entertainment content. A comprehensive package will supply these standard offerings along with a list of more specialized options such as business news, technology news, health news, and a variety of granular, localized content. Both packages will offer content in French and in English.

The partnership is groundbreaking for the CBC as it opens a new distribution channel for their digital content services and represents another step in their transition from a traditional broadcaster to a progressive new media company.

It’s also a coming of age story, not just for one technology vendor, but for an industry as a whole. Canada’s national broadcaster has watched with interest as a new technology arena called place-based media has started turning TV screens outside the home into location-specific media channels. Place-based media has already been growing steadily in popularity recently as a new generation of technology arrived that makes it easier and more cost-effective for more businesses to participate.

features_howitworksIn the fall of 2014 we launched ScreenScape Connect, a new plug-and-play device and supporting software platform, that turns any TV into a connected digital sign. ScreenScape supplies the device, with no upfront cost, on an extended subscription thus reducing both the cost and the complexity of operating a digital signage network. The device simply plugs into the HDMI port of the TV and connects via wifi to the Internet. Once online it can be updated, monitored and managed over the Internet using ScreenScape.com.

Digital signage made easy for your gym with ScreenScape Connect

So you have several screens around your gym or community center. Are you really using them to their full potential to help build your business? Why play someone else’s content when it’s both easy and affordable to tailor that message to your local audience.

Here’s a short video for fitness and recreation industry professionals. Digital signage is powerful and now it’s easy with this plug & play device.

New Menu templates added

ScreenScape’s “Get Started” template collection recently got a new influx of Menu related templates.

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This family of templates was originally designed for the ‘quick service’ food industry. However, they can be quickly re-purposed for other verticals such as retail, for items with lower dollar amounts (generally < $99). They're at their best when played back to back with one another, although mixing and matching these templates with related full screen videos is also a great fit.

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Is Your Android Digital Signage Player Rooted?

Digital Signage Security in the age of Internet Connected devices
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Here is my recent guest post on the popular industry blog Sixteen:Nine. Thank you Dave Haynes for the invite. For more information on how ScreenScape approaches device security please email us at sales at screenscape dot net.


If you operate a digital signage network, chances are you’ve been hearing about new Internet-connected devices. They are transforming the way digital signage networks are built and managed.   New Android-powered solutions are being lauded by software vendors and pundits as simpler and cheaper alternatives to the PC as a digital signage player.  This post weighs in on some of the pros and cons of this new class of devices. In particular it focuses on a key requirement for most professional digital signage operators, and a primary concern of all network administrators: device security.  Is the new class of Android device safe to use in a corporate environment?

It starts with security

Device security has become an important topic among IT administrators in the wake of a series of high profile cyber attacks that resulted in damaging security breaches. Companies scrambling to seal up their systems from hackers are having to look in the unlikeliest of places for vulnerabilities.  In the recent Target payment card breach, hackers gained access to the retailer’s records through its heating and cooling system. In other cases, hackers have used vending machines, printers, thermostats and videoconferencing equipment.  How long before hackers start looking at digital signage media players?  If it were to happen, and a high profile security breach was traced back to poor security practices by a digital signage technology vendor, the entire industry could be in for a setback.

Device security questions aside, the rationale for using Android-powered Internet-connected devices as digital signage media players has many strong points.   Arguments that they are simpler, cheaper, and more functional as a single purpose appliance are compelling. ScreenScape, for the record, is a big believer.  The new class of Internet-connected devices have the potential to help network operators achieve greater cost-efficiency and greater scale.  By helping to deploy more screens and reach more people with engaging content, they can help to accelerate the return-on-investment in digital signage projects.

So the new devices are potentially very good, but poor device security is most certainly very bad. The key question is: Can we deploy them in a manner that is safe and secure?  In fact this was the critical question the engineers at ScreenScape asked themselves when they began designing an Android-based solution in collaboration with Dell called ScreenScape Connect.

Based on our findings the problems associated with poor device security don’t lie with the Android operating system itself. When it is used as designed, Android has a security model that has been well thought through.  Millions of devices, many of which are relied on for mission critical applications, run the Android operating system and they do so safely and securely.

The hazards of rooting

When it comes to device security, too often the problem is actually in the way these devices are being used by software vendors to deploy their applications.   Based on the feedback we are getting from customers, systems integrators, and industry onlookers it seems that many digital signage software vendors are choosing to ignore security best practices for developing their applications.  For example, it’s not an uncommon practice for a software vendor, in the digital signage space, to deploy their technology on devices which have been rooted.

Rooting is the process of allowing applications to attain privileged control (known as “root access“) within the operating sub-system.  What does the Android Open Source project have to say on the subject?

From:  https://source.android.com/devices/tech/security/#rooting

Users that change the permissions on an Android device to grant root access to applications increase the security exposure to malicious applications and potential application flaws.

 

It couldn’t be much clearer. There is no good reason, that we can think of, to deploy a digital signage application on a rooted device and, if security is even remotely a concern, it is certainly not advisable.  Operating systems like Android provide for secure methods for building and deploying applications.  An unseasoned vendor may choose to use a rooted device as a short-cut method of porting their application to a particular device.  While rooting a device may help to quickly get an application running on a new, low-cost device, the increased exposure to malicious attacks should discourage such corner cutting.

This is not to say that using a proper non-rooted device is the only measure you need to take to be fully secure, but it’s a fundamentally important one.  Rooting allows an application to bypass the Android security model resulting in a less than secure device that is much more susceptible to malware and cyber attack. For example, if your device is rooted then its wide open for somebody to install an app, and do all sorts of things to it.  With a rooted device a lot of bad stuff can happen.

The recent spate of high profile cyber attacks should be more than enough to deter any security conscious IT manager from using a technology solution that doesn’t respect the Android security model.  If you happen to be engaged in digital signage, whatever software partner you might be working with, whichever devices might power your digital signs, here’s a simple question you should ask your technology provider to help avoid your own damaging security breach:  Are you using a rooted device?


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The story behind ScreenScape Connect

ScreenScape began working on the software that would eventually power ScreenScape Connect back in the summer of 2012.  One of the key hurdles we knew we had to climb was finding a true engineering partnership with a brand name hardware provider.  Device security was top of mind from the outset. We knew in order to develop a smart and secure device for digital signage, we needed a solution that was a happy marriage of software and hardware.  We began scouring the globe and evaluated many of the new Android-powered devices that were first to arrive on the market.

Wherever we looked, we found the same problems.  Many of the vendors were pushing consumer-grade devices that were designed for home entertainment purposes; they were intended as Youtube and Netflix players for the living room.  Most of the vendors didn’t really have engineering teams.  They were interested in retailing cheap devices in massive quantities, not in working with industry partners to develop security-conscious technology solutions to solve a specific business problem. It was unsettling to learn that many providers of the new generation of Android-powered devices were either ready to “look the other way”, or actually sanctioning the practice of rooting.  This practice said everything we needed to know about their approach to serving the professional digital signage industry. Device security wasn’t their concern.  As tempting as it was to cut corners and be first to market with a low-cost Android-powered device we weren’t about to get started down the path with a partner that was ok with us deploying our solution on a rooted device.

Our search continued for over a year until we found Dell Wyse and their device, the Android-powered Cloud Connect (which was code-named Project Ophelia at the time).  That’s when it started to come together.  Of course Dell is a name-brand hardware manufacturer with a global support network.  Dell has made a name for itself selling to the enterprise.   We also knew that Wyse had made a name for itself building quality routers and didn’t cut corners when it came to device security.  We discovered that the folks at Dell Wyse had a strong engineering team that was as interested in working with ScreenScape, a leading application software developer, as we were in working with a reputable provider of Android-based devices.

Dell Cloud ConnectWe began to collaborate in earnest on what would eventually become ScreenScape Connect. The goal was to deliver a new kind of smart device, purpose-built to perform as a simple yet secure digital signage appliance.  Of course, just taking Cloud Connect off the shelf and rooting it would have defeated the goal of the project.  Instead, we worked with the engineers of Wyse to develop secure APIs that would allow ScreenScape software to integrate seamlessly with the device’s firmware.   We co-engineered a solution that would allow ScreenScape users to remotely control and manage the device, while encrypting the transmission of data between the device and our servers.

As a result, the device software is properly signed by the manufacturer and virtually tamper proof.  What’s more is that by going through this process we were able to get “closer to the metal” and develop a more performant, more reliable solution.

The takeaway

We like to think that others in the space can learn from our experience. Place-based media is certainly a new and exciting industry.  New entrants are joining the industry at a quickening pace.  Naturally, we’d like to encourage all vendors, new and old, NOT to cut corners.  There ARE reputable hardware providers out there that are willing to work with you on implementing your software on their device in a secure manner.  We application developers should hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to device security.  In order for the industry to avoid a setback and continue to gain in credibility as a professional marketing channel, and one day achieve web scale, it’s important that we set the bar high when it comes to the rigours of software quality in general.  While it wasn’t easy for us to find the engineers at Dell Wyse and it took time to work with them to develop a secure, purpose-built device, it’s something any professional software vendor can achieve if they are willing to accept the challenge of doing it right.

For what it’s worth, our advice is this:

  • Use commercial grade devices from reputable hardware vendors.
  • Work with professional vendors that know and support B2B channels and stand behind products that are intended to be used in a commercial setting.
  • Gain privileged access to functionality within the Android software stack correctly, through secure APIs.  Digitally sign your apps in a secure fashion.
  • Don’t use rooted devices.

Let’s all strive to build reliable software that’s been implemented securely.  After all, if an application vendor is trying to cut corners when it comes to device security, where else are they taking shortcuts?