Digital signage is an emerging market that has grown rapidly in the past three years. More and more companies are deploying digital signage as the public begin to understand the impact of such systems. If you are a software developer, this presents a great opportunity to enter this fast growing market space.
Traditional signage systems used a variety of DVD players and consumer-grade PC systems as their media playback engine. In recent years, a number of dedicated appliances-type media players have emerged and is forming the fastest growing technology sector in the industry.
Compared to the traditional consumer-grade equipment, the specialized media appliances offer better hardware reliability and greatly simplified software programming interface. This combination creates a new opportunity for software developers that was not available before.
Digital signage player utilize the W3C SMIL open standard as their application programming interface (API). SMIL is an XML-based mark-up language sharing roots with the HTML language popular for web development. SMIL adds the benefit of simplicity compared to the typical Windows or Linux environment. A typical multi-zone animated content can be written in SMIL in as little as a dozen lines of code, compared to a typical implementation in Windows that would require at least ten times more work. The SMIL language also provide advanced features including synchronization, parallel scheduling, playback logging, event reporting which greatly improve the robustness of a system made up of SMIL players.
The SMIL standard is being embraced by a growing number of digital signage vendors in the industry. Several large scale systems using thousands of SMIL players have been deployed worldwide, showing the maturity and scalability of the technology.
Several low cost media players are available in the market. Software developers interested in starting up in the market should seriously consider leveraging the maturity and cost effectiveness of the technology today.