Intuiface has become the go-to option for organizations that wish to create, deploy, and manage interactive digital signage. The one hurdle for these organizations is their experience has been shaped by traditional broadcast digital signage, resulting in preconceptions that don't always align with how Intuiface works. This article attempts to clarify the similarities and differences.
Traditional digital signage (TDS) is fundamentally concerned with pushing content. It works a bit like television: it's a broadcasting system that sends time-orchestrated content (videos, images, text, html) to display screens in the field that play this content on players (reminiscent of a TV tuner). It's a one-way, one-to-many server-to-player architecture. As a result, it is a passive system that cannot react to actions taken by those watching the screen. This is why TDS has also been called "passive digital signage".
Intuiface works in reverse, pulling content. The Intuiface paradigm is very close to an application (or, to be less intimidating, let's call it an app). There is no content server per se; the app runs locally on the PC/tablet/etc. driving a display screen. This app is interactive (touch and touch alternatives), connected (to the environment and the cloud), and expressive (as expected from an app driven by real-time interaction and context). Supplementing this player-level capability are classic signage functions such as deployment automation, device monitoring, the ability to run offline, and usage statistics.
With the introduction of HTML5, TDS vendors are starting to introduce single-touch, template-based interactive signage. Intuiface also uses HTML5 under the hood but can do so with multi-touch and without template restrictions. For more about how you can use HTML5 to your advantage, see this item below.
In a traditional digital signage (TDS) platform, "content" refers to all of the videos, images, and text strings (aka the media) located in a central repository (aka the content management system, or CMS) that are assembled together in the form of displayed screens and scheduled playlists. These playlists are deployed to displays in the field.
With Intuiface, the "content" is the app itself (we call it an "experience") and thus much richer than a sequence of scheduled screens populated with mere videos, images, and text. Intuiface Composer is the tool used to assemble and orchestrate a wide variety of graphic design elements, including information coming from the environment and cloud-accessible repositories. The result is a deeply interactive, engaging, and personalized experience. It is this overall experience (vs. a simple playlist) that is deployed to interactive displays in the field.
That's the most common question we get. The answer is "No", "Yes" and "Use what you already have".
Strictly speaking, there is no centralized CMS as it is traditionally understood. There is no central repository of media shared across devices.
As all content used by Intuiface is either in the experience or dynamically retrieved by that experience, the experience acts as its own CMS. The media itself can be retrieved from any local or cloud-hosted repository and thus could also be "managed" at that endpoint.
- "Use what you already have"
If you wish to create a great interactive experience based on your own or your client's rich media, there is a good chance this media is already stored and managed by a specific application, likely either a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) or a Content Management System (CMS). In this scenario, you have two options:
- Copy: Locally download all of the media and place them in your experience. Once included, this media will be automatically deployed to all of your devices along with the experience.
- Link: Inside Composer, simply refer to each media element using the URL assigned by your DAM/CMS. This remote link will work as long as every device in the field has access to the original.
Let's look at an example. Say you wish to build a catalog-based application (like retail endless aisle, real estate inventory, restaurant menu, car dealership kiosk, tourist venue advertising, hotel concierge promotions, .......). This would require the existence of a structured repository containing information about each individual "product" such as images, descriptions, reviews, prices, availability, etc. Modern product repositories usually have a Web API enabling access to this information, most likely using the REST protocol. With Intuiface, it is super easy to connect to a CMS wrapped in a REST-based API as explained here, and retrieve this information in real time as often as you require. As you may have already figured out, if you are a traditional digital signage user, a CMS is unable to manage structured data of this kind, let alone permit access to a Product repository.
Another alternative if you want to go fast (e.g. demo for your client or your boss), to display just a small set of products, or if you don't immediately have access to the product repository: use the best-known database in the market: Excel! In Excel, you can quickly add a bunch of product data - one row per product, a column for each characteristic - drag & drop that Excel file into Intuiface Composer, and then quickly create a dynamic product datasheet based on its contents! A CMS is incapable of this kind of data-centric interaction.
Does Intuiface have a function similar to digital signage players, like content scheduling and playlists?
Unlike traditional digital signage platforms, Intuiface does not offer a “centralized” content scheduling feature that pushes content. Rather, the scheduling of media occurs directly within the Intuiface experience you create with Composer. In essence, you're scheduling a pull instead of a push. Using that feature, you can decide - for example - that from 9am to 9pm you will show Content A and then from 9pm to 9am you will show Content B (this is a very simple example). You can also define that, inside your interactive experience, you will show:
- in one part of your screen, Video1 from 9am to 2pm and Video2 from 2pm to 9pm.
- in another part of your screen, dynamic information like weather, Twitter feeds, and news items.
More about content scheduling in an experience can be found here.
You can even go a step further and mix time and location in order to display the right media at the right time in the right location. For example, if Kiosk1 is located in City1, then from 9am to 2pm play Video1City1 and from 2pm to 9pm play Video2City1. If Kiosk2 is located in City2, then … well, you get the point. Everything is done in the experience, not centrally. It’s a change in perspective from a TDS platform because of the finer level of control that is possible from inside an app.
Most of the traditional digital signage (TDS) vendors provide a special media asset supporting HTML5 (this is in addition to images, video, PowerPoint, etc.). TDS vendors position this HTML5 asset as the fastest way to display a website (which are rarely good digital signage sources) or for custom development of apps using HTML5 to manage interactivity. This latter option is currently the only answer TDS vendors propose for creating custom content - becoming HTML5 experts.
Intuiface Player on the iPad, Android, ChromeOS, BrightSign, and Samsung SSP devices are all based on Intuiface's own HTML5-based technology. The Samsung SSP option illustrates a crucial point: each Intuiface experience is, in fact, a webpage (embedding our patented gesture recognition engine) that can be launched via a specific URL. As a result, it is very easy - in theory - to use the HTML5 asset of a TDS platform to call up an Intuiface experience. In practice, the performance of an Intuiface-based experience is heavily influenced by the type of web browser embedded in the TDS platform, the level of file system access, the services exposed on the device, and much more.
Beyond these integration considerations, make sure you need them at all. Most of the time, a screen will not share both passive and interactive digital signage so it will be appropriate to use passive and interactive platforms separately. In addition, if you need passive digital signage capabilities on your interactive screen (e.g. kiosk), Intuiface is very likely capable of addressing your requirements.
No, there are no limits to the number of experiences you can create with either the free or paid editions of Intuiface Composer. And there is no relationship between the number of Composers and Players you may possess. Customers could have five Composers and one Player because they have five editors working simultaneously on projects that will run on a single device. Others may have one Composer and hundreds of Players across multiple platforms for multiple clients, projects, and audiences.
This is one of the key benefits of Intuiface for digital signage: business-level analytics. The beauty of interactive digital signage is that no guesswork is required to understand an audience's preferences. Their onscreen actions tell you exactly where their interests lie.
Virtually anything can be tracked by Intuiface. It is up to the experience designer, assisted by the Business Analyst, to define what data to collect and when to collect it.
For example, you might want to measure how many times a product sheet has been "viewed" in each of the ten kiosks distributed around a store. Each collected data point combines the information you specify with pre-filled information such as timestamp, location, and more. This mass of information is stored in an Intuiface-hosted database - the Analytics Data Hub - and available for visualization using Intuiface's own charts and dashboard Analytics feature.
Since Intuiface Composer is a free-form authoring tool, you can position your media anywhere you want on the screen. You can even design a multi-screen experience with a very large overall resolution and distribute your media across these multiple screens. The bottom line, you control every pixel of a design and thus can create your own zones if you'd like to. Of course, feel free not to use a zone-like layout at all!
Yes, we do offer templates as well as samples for you to use and modify for free. Both are delivered in a fully customizable form, so you can change every aspect and distribute as you wish. However, we suspect you will quickly outgrow our templates and create more personal, fit-for-purpose designs on your own.
In Intuiface, all experiences can act as templates since all media references can be modified both at design time and run time.
What we call Intuiface Player is only a piece of software that runs on a large number of OS's.
- Supported platforms: Windows 7/8/10, iOS on the iPad, Android, Chrome OS, BrightSign OS, and Tizen on the Samsung SMART Signage Platform
See our technical specifications article in our Help Center for more details.
An Intuiface experience can be shared as read-only with other Intuiface accounts so they can be run but not edited by a collaborator or client. Collaboration between multiple designers working on the same Intuiface experience is enabled via the Share as Write feature. These sharing options are discussed here.
Intuiface Management Console is the home of powerful, easy-to-control capabilities related to deployment.
Every instance of Intuiface Player associated with your account is monitored and displayed in Management Console, regardless of their geographic location. You can assign multiple tags to each instance of Player to represent characteristics like location, local language, or any other information you can use to meaningfully group your Players.
Before deploying an experience to a set of Players in the field, enter the appropriate tags to filter the overall Player list - e.g. all Players tagged "West Coast" and "Spanish" if your intent is to deploy an experience only on the West Coast of the US and with Spanish as the primary language. Then specify the experience, click a button - and you've deployed an experience to devices anywhere in the world. It's as simple as that! We didn't want to offer a complicated location-based tree structure when tags are much more flexible and powerful. An overview of Intuiface deployment is available here.
Of course, Intuiface includes deployment scheduling capabilities so you can plan ahead, plus the ability to pause and wait for deployment directed toward offline devices.
For sharing and deployment, Intuiface experiences are stored in the user's cloud storage account of choice: Intuiface Cloud Storage, Amazon S3, or a dedicated/behind the firewall ftp (or ftps) server. Yet another modern way of doing things! Intuiface never stores your media; only experience metadata is accessed to facilitate deployment.
Intuiface Player has no built-in kiosk mode but is compatible with all known platform options, such as the Windows "kiosk mode" detailed here. For other supported operating systems, you could use any 3rd party software specializing in locking down devices.
On Windows, iPad, and Android, yes. Whenever Intuiface Player stops for an unwanted reason, it can automatically restart itself and play the last run experience. On Windows, this applies to both a device restart or a system crash.
In addition, on Windows and BrightSign, you can remotely deploy newer versions of Player so the latest features and bug fixes make their way into the field. (On tablets, you can choose to have the associated app store update Player.) Never visit a kiosk in the field again! More details here.
In addition to remote deployment, Intuiface's Share and Deploy Console includes live screenshots for all devices running Player. If Player is not running, a message attesting to this fact is displayed.
For all but the iPad and Android, Intuiface users can arrange to be emailed whenever Player goes offline. In addition, Intuiface runs a real-time cloud status monitoring website, enabling you to keep track of Intuiface infrastructure health and to subscribe to ongoing events as we troubleshoot them.