Digital Signage on Raspberry Pi

Launched in the latter half of 2019, the Raspberry Pi 4 has been generating a major Digital Signage revolution worldwide due to the low cost, reliability and robustness associated with this equipment.

If until version 3 of the Raspberry Pi, people with more technical knowledge considered this innovative hardware platform as a DIY (Do It Yourself) solution or it was used as a small educational computer in schools. The new version of the Raspberry Pi 4 radically changed the way people started seeing the possibilities of this small computer, which has led many companies at international level to start developing their Digital Signage solutions on this new platform.

Amplitude Net had already made available since 2018 its World VDS Digital Signage software in version 3 of Raspberry Pi, there are customers who have opted at that time for this solution in more than 100 terminals, such as Ropar, a Portuguese company dedicated to the manufacture of Orthopaedic Footwear, being best known for its brand ARCOPEDICO.

Among the biggest advantages of this new model 4 compared to model 3 that have a strong impact for Digital Signage we highlight the following improvements:

  • Processor speed (from 1.2 to 1.5GHz)
  • Memory in Speed and Capacity (from 1GB up to 4GB)
  • Graphics Card (from VideoCore IV at 250MHz to VideoCore VI at 500MHz)
  • Graphics Outputs (from 1 HDMI 1.4 to 2 micro HDMI 2.0)
  • Ethernet network (from 100Mb to 1Gb)
  • WiFi network (from n standard to ac standard)

Thus, if the World VDS Digital Signage software in version 3 of the Raspberry Pi already presented an excellent performance, in version 4 this became naturally much superior.

 

Below is a list of the main advantages that businesses can expect from using the Raspberry Pi 4, should they adopt this hardware for their Digital Signage solution:

Low Cost

Raspberry Pi 4 is available in 3 different versions, different only in the RAM memory capacity, namely with 1GB, 2GB and 4GB. Although it is necessary to contemplate an additional cost for necessary accessories such as the USB-C power supply, HDMI cable, SD card and the Raspberry Box (equipment protection box). Still, even for the 4GB model, the final price is very low for the potential of the device in question.

It should be noted that the Raspberry Pi is a hardware platform with market-proven quality, as it has more than 13 million units sold worldwide. It also has a product life cycle of more than 7 years, there are no clones and it is easily available worldwide, which gives absolute security to those who choose this solution for their Digital Signage.

Reduced dimensions - increasingly essential in Digital Signage

With the dimensions of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi is a very reliable and totally solid minicomputer with no moving parts (like hard disk), can run without a fan, and is prepared to run for several months without being restarted and has practically no hardware board failures. The only occasional faults are SD card corruption and power supply failures, in both cases the components are easily replaceable.

In the context of Digital Signage and Corporate TVThe Raspberry Pi, in which screens are increasingly thinner, the size of the players is naturally a relevant factor, since they often need to be coupled between the screen and the wall, so that the Raspberry Pi very successfully meets this need.

Dual Screen Digital Signage

The new Raspberry Pi 4 has two HDMI outputs, so no additional hardware is required to achieve this effect. Thus, with a single device it is now possible to manage 2 Digital Signage screens independently at the same time.

An interesting context for the use of the two HDMI ports is in using a cross-connect configuration of two displays associated with Raspberry Pi 4 devices, which enables a fallback scenario for critical applications if one of the Raspberry Pi 4 device ports fails, thus allowing instant switching of the displays by the HDMI port that is still working. A practical application of this scenario with critical applications, is in the screens on which flight information is displayed at airports.

Full support for 4K in Digital Signage

Although most of the existing screens, as well as the video content produced are 1080p, slowly the 4K resolution is starting to gain its space in Digital Signage, as with 4K there will be 4 times more detail and clarity compared to 1080p. Display suppliers are already starting to offer these solutions at the professional display level and in the coming years we can expect the launch of several very large displays, as happened in 2019 with the launch of Samsung´s 219´´ display called "the wall". In addition, consumer adoption of 4K is also increasing, which is another factor that will drive the adoption of 4K Digital Signage significantly in the coming years.

Since the new Raspberry Pi 4 offers full support for 4K it only reinforces the fact that this hardware is a very valid option for the present as well as the future of Digital Signage. 4K video must be encoded using H.265 supported by the Raspberry Pi 4 hardware´s video decoder without any licensing and additional cost. This video decoding supports a high profile, up to 60 frames per second, so that the video is smooth and the playback is absolutely perfect.

More memory

With the advanced 4GB LPDDR4 RAM option of the new Raspberry Pi 4, it becomes possible to display more content simultaneously on the screens, with faster loading, thus making the hardware performance much higher. For Digital Signage software World VDS this aspect can be very relevant in situations of complex emissions, since our software, unlike others on the market, allows a total division of the screen in several areas that complement each other, thus giving total flexibility to customers to display on the same screen several information simultaneously, from different sources.

Versatility of powerful modules for Digital Signage

One of the factors also relevant to the use of Raspberry Pi is the fact that there are several hardware modules that can be added to the device allowing it to have an even more relevant use in Digital Signage.

Among the various possible modules the following are highlighted:

  • POE Module (Power Over Ethernet) which allows the Raspberry Pi to receive power over the network without the use of a power transformer, an important aspect for industrial use or in environments where it is not possible to add plugs
  • Wide range of Sensors available such as presence, brightness and temperature
  • GPS Module, allowing the addition of a GPS receiver, which offers high accuracy positioning time features that are perfect if you need to verify the location of equipment on the move and with systems that require precise time synchronisation
  • Variety of small screen sizes or even e-ink, thus offering a great potential for one of the areas pointed out for the future of Digital Signage

Improved CPU

Although not the Raspberry Pi 4´s strong point, it still has a very competent 4-core CPU with a 1.5 GHz clock, which allows it to render web pages with many animations at a significantly acceptable rate. However the video reproduction is exceptional, being able to create advanced graphics with OpenGL ES 3.0 support.

About WorldVDS Digital Signage Software

As mentioned the Amplitude Net World VDS Digital Signage software is currently prepared to run on the Raspberry Pi since its version 2 (currently version 4).

What hasn´t been mentioned yet is that World VDS is the only software in the world, which besides being available for the Raspberry Pi, also runs not only on the main brands of professional Digital Signage displays (such as SamsungLG and Philips) as well as on other major operating systems such as Windows, Android and Linux.

This versatility, unique in the world, allows companies total flexibility when choosing World VDS, as they will never be tied to one brand or operating system for their projects.

Worldwide the Digital Signage Software industry is divided into the following segments:

  • Manufacturers´ software, which only runs on their branded screens (the Samsung has MagicInfoLG the SuperSign and Phillips the CMND)
  • Cross-platform software available (some of which already runs natively on some brands of screens)
  • Software that runs on the Raspberry Pi

World VDS is the only software worldwide that can unite these 3 universes.

What leads companies that develop cross-platform software (which are already available in several platforms) to not bet on the Raspberry Pi, is essentially due to the fact that the specifications of this hardware, are very particular and limitative, which make it a very low cost Mini-PC. This way, they prefer to bet their development effort on other platforms (more expensive and with a more robust hardware) and not on the Raspberry Pi.

It is these unique characteristics of the Raspberry Pi that have led some companies to invest in the development of software limited to this low-cost hardware. Among these softwares the following stand out:

  • 1Play
  • Yodeck
  • Info-beamer
  • piSignage
  • Raspberry Digital Signage

Historically there have been several other projects, which have disappeared due to their lack of economic viability.

Amplitude Net, through an internal research and development project carried out in 2019 called World VDS SPARK, has developed a state of the art Digital Signage software code, which has allowed it to adapt to any operating system, including the one used by the cheapest Digital Signage hardware in the world - the Raspberry Pi.

This versatility of the World VDS Digital Signage software of Amplitude Net, elevates our solution to a level that no other company in the world has yet reached, making it the current Digital Signage and Corporate TVAmplitude Net shows how it continues to innovate and create differentiation from what the competition has to offer.

Final Conclusions on the use of Digital Signage with Raspberry Pi

There are of course several factors that may influence companies to choose to use Digital Signage software on other platforms, such as Windows hardware. If certain business groups need to place many devices on an internal network with strict security protocols, having the group made agreements with Microsoft, or even when using a certain brand of screens that already allow natively the World VDS solution to run.

However, in view of the various points detailed in the article, it is clear that the new version of the Raspberry Pi 4 is at the moment a highly efficient and economic solution, should companies wish to adopt this device in their Digital Signage solution.

It should be noted that the Amplitude Net is very more than Digital Signage Softwarebecause in addition to the World VDS Software available on the most varied platforms, it also has a wide range of Digital Signage ServicesThis guarantees companies the success of their projects on any platform.

 

References:
wikipedia: Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi 4 vs Raspberry Pi 3B+
Raspberry Pi PoE HAT
Add GPS Time and Location to a Raspberry Pi Project
NEWS TOP 27 Popular Raspberry Pi Displays & Screens

 

Published: 20-03-2020

Amplitude Net solutions go far beyond traditional Digital Signage systems

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