Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Comparing Chameleon for Digital Signage (C4DS) with Simple USB Stick Signage

Today, retailers and service providers have very little time that can be allocated to setting up and maintaining digital signage screens. This reality, coupled with their constant need to reduce marketing and promotion costs, has driven them to pursue the simplest and cheapest solutions available. Perhaps the most popular type of digital signage solution that meets this criteria is simple playback of graphics and video that has been loaded onto a USB stick. Some digital screens are being sold with this type of digital signage support built-in and may also support loading content from other forms or portable storage media such as an SD card.

USB Stick Type Digital Sign
USB Stick Signage
USB Stick Signage
In very general terms, this style of signage includes screens with build in playback support where the content played back is loaded from the USB stick or other portable media. Depending on the platform, content is played from the USB stick while it is inserted or the content is automatically copied to internal storage within the screen (typically replacing old content). Content playback is simple and is typically just the alphabetical order of the content files that have been loaded onto the portable media. Commonly, many types of content are supported including graphic files and video. To update content, end users must physically interact with screens and replace the content on the USB stick. No remote content updates are possible.

Chameleon Remotely Managed Solution
The Chameleon Solution
For very minimal cost, the Chameleon solution addresses many of the shortcomings of USB stick signage. End users can take advantage of a number of features lacking in USB Stick offerings. This includes elaborate content playback scheduling, dynamic content including weather and sports scores, screen health monitoring and proof-of-play reporting. Because Chameleon has been designed with simplicity in mind, the end user can begin benefiting from these features after a few minutes when starting to use the system. Critically, all content management functions are done remotely. No physical interaction with screens is required.

Chameleon can be purchased pre-installed on screen devices supporting Android including tablets and full-sized screens. For simpler screens with no Android support, separate player hardware must be installed. While some effort is required for installation, it is typically minimal (think minutes not hours) as players typically require only a power connection, internet connection and graphic connection to the screen. Player hardware cost is one drawback compared to built-in solutions, but because Android player platforms are mass produced, this cost is very low when compared to the overall operating cost of a sign.

Once a Chameleon system is installed, users can manage content quite simply by logging into the Chameleon dashboard, uploading graphic and video files to the dashboard and then selecting their playback order within a campaign. As a final step, users can simply select a created campaign for their device and playback will start automatically.

There are no setup steps for end users to monitor devices or review playback stats. They simply view this data within the dashboard.

If scheduled playback of campaigns is required within devices, this optional step can be performed with minimal effort after a few minutes review of online how-to videos or the user’s guide.
Selection of dynamic content, including weather, is also very simple and can be learned in minutes using the how-to videos and user’s guide as a reference.

To supplement graphical content, Chameleon also supports internet audio streaming. Ambient music from over 20,000 shoutcast stations, or advertising content such as commercials, can enhance sign effectiveness within a store.

For a marginal  fee and a very small investment in time, end users with very little technical ability can setup signage solutions that are far more engaging, dynamic and manageable than would otherwise be supported by a USB stick type solution.

USB Stick Signage Advantages

Capital Expense
Commonly, this style of solution is free to the user. For some end users, you simply cannot beat free.
No Player Install
Because player capability is built into the screen itself, there is no player hardware for the end-user to install.
It really does not get any simpler than copying files to portable media and plugging that media into a screen. For this reason, less technical end users may consider this style solution to be less intimidating.

Chameleon Advantages

Lower Operating Costs
While not free, Chameleon license costs are very low at $150* per year per screen. For end users that must travel to a remote screen to update content on a regular basis, this can support an overall operating cost that is much lower than USB Stick Signage.
Healthy Network
Understanding if screens are healthy and showing content is critical. Chameleon’s remote management functions will show when screens are disabled. Often a call to a local resource to return screen power is all that is required to fix screen issues. Without immediate indication of a problem and remedy, screens may be offline for weeks or even months.
Fresh Content
Updating content on a regular basis is key to engaging customers. Regular content updates are incredibly challenging for end users that must physically visit screens. Ultimately, content will become stale and the effectiveness of the sign will drop dramatically.
Play Proof
When content is used for advertising or promotion and proof of content display is required for advertisers or promoters, proof-of-play reporting is critical.
Dynamic Content
To help engage users, display of timely and dynamic content such as sports scores, weather, stock values, flight departure data (as examples) is very beneficial. Chameleon makes this easy by supporting web page captures and by hosting web pages that end users can customize to display their local weather and news. In fact, Chameleon can even show proprietary data like meeting room schedules, online menus, etc.
Audio Streaming
Get consumer mindshare even when they are not looking at screens, by playing commercials. Or, improve the consumer experience and increase their shopping time by playing ambient music.
Being able to schedule which content plays and when is critical to ensure that content is as relevant and valuable as possible at any given time. Chameleon supports a variety of scheduling mechanisms that vary from simple to complex and powerful.
* Pricing in US dollars.

About Deviceworx Technologies Inc. (

Deviceworx Technologies Inc (DTI) develops proximity marketing and digital signage solutions for a variety of verticals. The recently released Chameleon for Digital Signage (C4DS) product provides small to large end users and network operators with a solution that is simple, economical and flexible. Click here for more info on C4DS or email DTI sales: