Sign & Digital Graphics

The 2015 LED & EMC Report

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Page 21 of 31

22 • June 2015 • L E D & E M C a hardware failure, but instead, maybe the temperature probe was in the shade at the moment the viewer checked it, throwing off the reported temperature. With a cloud-based system, users simply enter in a zip code and their LED screen will be showing data direct from that same weather service in real time. Upgradability Another sizeable consideration as it relates to software is upgradability. Software isn't something that just hap- pens. It's a process of perpetual work and development and programmers can only do so much at a time. Traditionally, pro- grammers would work on a piece of soft- ware for a limited amount of time, cram- ming in as many features as they could up until a scheduled release date. Upon release, everything would be bundled together and made a part of the pack- age. Whatever couldn't be completed and tested on time would have to wait for the next release. This is the model necessarily followed by the manufacturers opting for a point- of-use PC-based control system. Doing a software update is manual and requires a new version to be installed over an older version. Cloud-based systems on the other hand, update as developers fin- ish their work without onerous release cycles. As new features are completed they are immediately available to all the users of the system. Therefore, as the programmers complete their work, the user's experience is enriched further and further without the need to stop and reinstall an entire program. Software Capabilities to Look For A basic software package necessarily should include the ability to upload text, images and video. Some less advanced systems may not have video capabilities. For example, there are monochrome sys- tems that are built to display just text and therefore video isn't necessary but today, even most monochrome systems should have the ability to do video. Uploading the text, images and video should be easy enough for a novice to begin doing with a simple training session which your manufacturer should be providing. This uploaded content may be organized into looping sets of messages to be displayed on the screen. Most systems will include a robust scheduling feature so that messages can change on cue by the day, hour or even minute. If you're considering a system which does not have the software capac- ity to load these elements and schedule them intelligently it may be time to shop the market. The centerpiece issue with most soft- ware today is content creation. Hiring graphic designers is expensive, and not every business can afford one to manage what goes on their display. In-house users may not have someone skilled enough to use the software's display tools to make a really eye-catching screen. Content is king, and the content is only going to look as good as the provider can, given the software tools they have to work with. Content creation applications that are well designed and geared toward man- agement of the display itself—with its specific resolution and color palette—are becoming increasingly sought after. To date, many manufacturers were answer- ing the call of content creation by accu- mulating large batches of stock images, animations, and video clips and offering them as potent content solutions. The problem is that no two busi- nesses are alike. No two brands are seek- ing to portray themselves the same way. Therefore, offering stock options to the masses has typically failed to fulfill the needs of most customers. Tools and Features Tools being built into software plat- forms today allow for easier and more flexible ways to create good customized content. For example, at Cirrus Systems, we put in a feature that allows text to be laid over a pre-set ambient video back- ground. The combination of ambient video motion and clearly displayed text improves the image quality of what's showing on a display tremendously while being very user friendly. An operator can work with it, and experience little to no learning curve. Further tools blur the line between EMC displays and what one can do on a smartphone or web browser by allowing things like Twitter or Facebook feeds to be formatted and displayed on the LED screen in a compelling way while still being easy to implement. For the end user who will be interact- ing with their display for years to come, the display's software is likely the most crucial feature for them. Sign shops who acquaint themselves with the software packages available will be able to outper- form their competition when it comes to winning business in the EMC market. SDG Improved EMC control software packages make it easier than ever for end users to update and edit their own content. Tools being built into software platforms today allow for easier and more flexible ways to create good customized content.

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