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Digital Signage - FAQ
This article explains answers to a set of frequently asked questions regarding the campus digital signage offering.
What is digital signage?
Digital signage is a content display platform that use technologies such as LCD, LED and Projection to display content such as digital images, video, streaming media, and information.
How Does It Work?
The campus digital signage service relies on a client/server architecture. The CoolSign digital signage application resides on a server that you access through your laptop. The server is connected to a CoolSign hardware player which is typically mounted in a public area. By managing content on the server, you control what is displayed on your CoolSign player.
What hardware components and infrastructure are needed?
For digital signage to be successfully deployed, a few components are needed.
The components are as follows:
- 1 LCD monitor
- 1 CoolSign digital signage player
- 1 pair of HDMI baluns (optional)
- 2 data jacks
- 2 power outlets
- 2 HDMI cables
Why would I want this service?
- Campus entities would want to deploy digital signage to be able to gain value for their campus entity/group through the promotion of events, making the campus community aware of what is important to them within a given period of time, and to simply to establish a campus presence within the physical confines of their campus building location.
- The digital signage platform is designed to make planning, scheduling, distributing and monitoring media a simple and repeatable process. The campus digital signage service offering allows you to manage and control your content from a multitude of connected devices including desktops and mobile devices.
How do I get digital signage for my campus group/department?
Contact the ITS Service Desk to create a request.
How do I administer digital signage from off-campus?
Digital signage user administration can be accessed via UChicago VPN (https://itservices.uchicago.edu/services/vpn-cvpn) when not on campus.
How do I modify access privileges (add/remove rights) for the digital signage devices that my group has ownership of?
Contact the ITS Service Desk to create a request. Make sure to specify the CNetID of the individual.
My CoolSign player isn't working properly. Who do I contact?
CoolSign hardware players have been deployed in several public areas around campus. CoolSign hardware players are essentially small form-factor computers configured to display digital content. Similar to other computers, when malfunctioning, something as simple as rebooting may resolve the matter. If power-cycling doesn't resolve the concern, there are several options for assistance.
For the fastest resolution of problems with currently deployed CoolSign players, please contact the local support in charge of your area. If you are unable to contact local support or your local support refers you to IT Services, please contact the ITS Service Desk for escalation.
Where is digital signage available?
CoolSign digital signage is technically available everywhere on campus that power is available and can physically connect to the campus data network.
Where does the digital content for the digital signage players come from?
The content that is created to be displayed on the digital signage players is created by each campus group/department for their individual digital signage displays. The content can be already existing videos, still images, or animations created using content creation software such as Photoshop.
What guidelines are available for what can be displayed, both for style and content?
Please refer to identity.uchicago.edu for official University fonts, branding, and logos. In regard to what defines appropriate content, please contact your departmental communications person for confirmation and appropriate instruction.
What are a few digital signage best practices for content display?
- Content is best displayed when its native resolution matches the display screen’s native resolutions.
- When creating graphics or video, specify a size that matches or exceeds the output resolution of your display monitor. The CoolSign digital signage technology will scale down higher resolution media for a lower resolution screen (though perfectly matched media looks best), but low resolution media will not look great on a high-resolution digital sign.
- Use standard aspect ratios (such as 4:3 or 16:9) as much possible for your media, since you may want to re-purpose that media. Your layouts are much easier to create if you have consistently sized pieces to work with.
- When developing a screen with multiple content zones, remember that less/fewer zones is often more typically more effective, as too much information will overload and disinterest many viewers.
- Unless you’re using a handheld smart device, your audiences are going to be viewing your signage from a distance. (Usually 5-10 feet away.) Because of this, you’ll want to consider the type of font used for your messages. Text should stand out, not strain the eyes of the viewers. An easy to read sans-serif typeface will translate well in any setting. The most commonly used sans-serif typefaces for headlines are Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana. Use sans-serif fonts and large font sizes so that viewers can read your message at a glance. Don't use too many fonts in a single piece of content, and don't go overboard with colored text. Avoid writing in all caps.
- More contrast between foreground and background is a good thing. A minor change like increasing the contrast by 10% can make the content easier to read, and recognizable to a much larger audience. Contrast, not color, is far more important when it comes to getting your content noticed, watched, and remembered. Because all digital signs emit light, their ability to show contrasting colors actually changes with a person's viewing angle
- Remember that digital signs have more in common with posters than with TV. Match up your text and visuals, and treat each slide like it's a stand-alone poster. Use visual transitions to link related slides within a larger piece of content.
- Although there can be a temptation to present lots of different types of information on a single screen, this can distract people from absorbing what is most important. When planning your screens identify the one or two most important pieces of information you need to get across and focus on those in your layout and design.
What digital video codecs does CoolSign support?
By default, CoolSign only provides support for MPEG-2, MPEG-1, and AVI digital video files. If you plan to use MPEG-4 and Windows Media 9 files, you must install the appropriate software to play back those file formats.
Windows Media 9
To use WMV files with Content Wizard, you must install Windows Media Player 9 or higher on your system. Windows Media Player 9 is available for download from www.microsoft.com.
To use MPEG-4 or H.264 (MPEG-4 part 10), you must install the appropriate MPEG-4 DirectShow filters on your system. I don’t see anything on the display screen. Check if the display is powered on and operational. Assuming that the network connection for the digital signage hardware player is still active:
- There might not be power going to the display monitor
- The display monitor might be powered off
- The display monitor may be bad
I scheduled content to play on a channel and assigned it to a region, but the content isn’t playing.
Confirm your content’s format (landscape or portrait), and also confirm if the channel that the content is playing on is set for the identical format.
Why can't I sign into the CoolSign digital signage server through the CoolSign Network Manager desktop application?
All users need to receive training, and subsequently request access to the CoolSign server.
How do I request training and access to the CoolSign server?
Contact the ITS Service Desk to request training. After the training concludes, you will be given access credentials to the CoolSign server.
Is there a limit to how many CoolSign displays can be deployed for my group?
No. There isn’t a limit to how many CoolSign displays that can be deployed across campus for a particular campus group.
Can a digital signage display be set to display a TV channel or other streaming source, either for a special event or just as a default?
A digital signage display can’t display traditional broadcast television programming. Though, browser-based streamed content can be displayed within a lineup on a digital signage display.
Is there a user manual? I like to geek out reading PDFs.
Yes. Download the CoolSign Network Manager User Guide.