For the last several years I’ve been looking for a digital signage solution for our main front office and conference room that had the following hardware and software features:
- The digital signage CPU had to allow me to use any HDMI monitor for the signage; I didn’t want to be restricted to a limited number of screens or screen sizes
- The signage design software needed to be web-based — I didn’t want to download client software on each platform where I wanted to create digital signage content
- The software tools had to allow me to be creative with every part of the digital screen so that I could place calendaring displays, clocks, weather conditions, welcome text, QR codes, photos, videos, and RSS feeds at any size and any location that I wanted
- The display software had to allow for the scheduling of individual content on the display and for the entire display itself. For example, say I wanted to welcome a new client to cyberManor on our main office screen with their name and photos of similar work that cyberManor has completed during the hours of the client visit and then revert back to the normal daily digital welcome screen after the client departs
- I wanted the digital sign design software to mine as much as possible from my content that is already in the cloud, such as project photos, company calendar, to-do lists, Slack content, etc., so that I could easily add a box on the digital screen that would extract this latest content information
- I wanted the ability to create multiple signage screens that I could queue up and play at different times of the day for different occasions. An example would be that during the day it would be a welcome screen with photos, text, company logo, weather, and time information, while at night the monitor would loop through project videos that people passing by the outside of our office could see in the evening (and these videos wouldn’t be an office daytime distraction)
- I wanted to create all of these digital signs from my home office and push them to the Samsung Frame TV on display in our main office at any time of day or night
- A company with a technical support team that would be responsive to any digital design questions I have and to suggestions for future improvements
The product I’ve found that has met my digital signage dream list of features is called DAKboard (www.dakboard.com), a privately held company based in Syracuse, NY. Over the last week, I have designed and implemented several digital signage screens that have greatly impressed me with the ease of use in creating designs, the creative and flexible features offered by the software, and the quality and speed of the final display image.
The first one I created (shown in the photo above) was a welcome screen for our AirB&B guests in our smart home showroom house. Now when a guest first arrives and says “Okay, Josh I’m home,” this Control4 Certified Home wakes up with the shades rising, soft music playing in the background, the downstairs lights turn on, and the TV in the main entry living area turns on sourced to the DAKboard welcome screen personalized with the names of our guests. This digital screen stays on for the first eight hours after our guests arrive and then switches to a “Control4 Tips and Tricks” screen that displays each day during their stay. All I need to do is remotely modify the text of the welcome screen with the names of each weekly guest to personalize this experience for our new tenants.
Of course, this TV monitor will also play all the regular YouTube TV, Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon, or Disney+ content when the video source is changed from the DAKboard CPU to the Apple or Roku streaming platforms with the Control4 NEEO remote.
The DAKboard hardware CPU and software is available from its website for $159.95. This new CPU product is powered by a Quadcore 1.5 GHz processor, has an Ethernet port, four USB ports, and has 4K video output. They also have a CPU mini for $99.95 with only Wi-Fi connectivity. For the more computer-literate customer, it sells software pre-loaded on a MicroSD card that you can install in a Raspberry Pi unit for only $24.95. There is even a free software download version on its website if you want to use all of your own hardware.
DAKboard also have various digital display subscription plans. One can start with one screen layout for free, two included screens is $5/month, and three screens is $10/month. The $10/month plan ($8/month if billed yearly) also includes screen loops, content scheduling, an online media library (up to 250 MB), and instant display refresh. This is the plan that I am using for cyberManor.
Most custom integrators like us have a main office, conference room, and/or showroom where we meet with our builder partners and clients. And almost all these rooms have a large monitor. With DAKboard CPU as a video source, these screens now provide the most relevant information to our guests — a positive and customized first impression of our business with a digital sign tailored to the information a new guest would like to know, such as company photos, pictures of the team members, and maybe even a photo of a client’s new home as a background. The display options are as unlimited as your own creativity.
We are all in the custom installation business — shouldn’t we prove that skillset the moment a new client walks in our front door?