Single Entry Level Screening in the current and post COVID World

Just as the tragedy of 9/11 changed our lives forever, most of us agree the Corona Virus pandemic will be just as impactful.  Not only will businesses and governments slowly and carefully reopen offices and public gathering spaces, and but will be tasked ongoing to provide a “safe place” for employees and customers.  In other words, it won’t just end with this pandemic but rather place a duty of care liability on employers and government well into the distant future.

The practices and methods to best create a safe workplace or public gathering are being explored and implemented.  Almo Corporation endeavors to provide solutions for not only our own operations and employees but for our reseller customers as well.  We have created a basket of Health & Safety products & tools such as PPE, decontaminating “Fogger” Kits, Digital Signage Hand Sanitizer Kiosks, etc.

One set of solutions we offer are single-entry, level 1 triage Temperature Scanning Systems to facilitate a safe entry into a business or public space.  In short, single-entry solutions must provide technology that efficiently supports a safe assessment of a person desiring entry.  In the beginning, we interviewed a number of potential end-users regarding perceived needs in search of a solution.  Two points consistently surfaced.  First, all agreed that they need a solution; and secondly, none of them knew exactly what they needed.

The first point is obvious.  Employers and businesses agree that a safe work or gathering environment is paramount to moving forward in the post COVID-19 world.  This won’t be the last battle we’ll face as a society so having technology that supports a reasonable solution for the present and future is needed.  In response this summer, a “bull rush” of products flooded the market with a myriad of products.  Most of these products performed as designed but are not flexible beyond a “Pass-Fail” assessment.  Some may be able to pass signals to open doors and measure faces with masks on but can’t adapt to new processes or reporting needs.  They are what they are.

Fortunately, the full opening of offices and business have been somewhat delayed giving time to develop and evolve safe entry practices.  The market is anxious to buy yet hesitant to invest in one-trick ponies that won’t provide flexibility down the road as needs change.  Our search focused on finding solutions that not only serve the immediate needs of today but those in the future as well.  Our search has found solutions that not only provide reliable single-entry Level 1 triage body temperature scanning but support processes and reporting as well.  Processes such as matching employee pre-questionnaires with temp scanning and in-out tracking are accommodated.  And back-end reporting for administrative purposes is provided as well.

Our search settled on software platforms functioning on small format touch displays and tablets coupled with a temperature scan facial camera or wrist-sensing arrays.  One such solution uses tablets from Mimo, a manufacturing partner known for high quality displays and tablets with PCAP touch.  They partnered with a software platform from Revel Digital.  These tablets attach the temp scanning arrays via pogo pins.  The pogo pin connection scheme provide USB connectivity and power for the temp scanning arrays.  Revel Digital, in turn, provided the Android-based programming and CMS to not only control the temp scanning process but provide reporting and digital signage capabilities as well.

We have other hardware platforms and hardware solutions to offer our dealers and their end-users.  The key to our solutions is the ability to customize to end-user requirements now and in the future.  We have a team of specialists that can assist dealers in the end-user interviews to determine requirements and solutions.  These are not short sell-cycle hardware solutions.  It includes SaaS (Software as a Service) license fees in addition to hardware purchase.  These solutions can adapt as end-user needs evolve.  Our Almo Sales Reps and Specialists stand ready to start putting solutions together.

What other products can you see businesses needing to implement in order to provide a sense of security to returning workers and customers?

A Free-Standing Interactive Kiosk Installed with Content in 30 Minutes? Yep!

Would you be interested in installing a free-standing, 55” portrait kiosk with touch and Wi-Fi connectivity?  This kiosk would support a simple interactive directory board, which an end-user can easily update and manage using a cloud-based CMS.  All this for around $5,500 retail with an estimated $120/yr. cloud-based CMS fee?  And better yet, install it in 30 minutes?

I think I just heard a collective YES!!!!!!!!!!

The opportunity has arrived and is available to dealers regardless of digital signage content experience or having an extensive company.

Introducing the Peerless-AV KIPICT555 “All-in-One” portrait, free-standing kiosk.  This kiosk solution is literally ready  to go out of the box with a low suggested retail list price of $3,375.  It ships complete and assembled with a 55”, 24/7 display that has six simultaneous points of interactive touch, a BrightSign media player and Wi-Fi/RJ45 connectivity.  An integrator just unpacks the kiosk, moves it into position and plugs it in.  Once powered, simply follow a few on-screen menu instructions and the kiosk is ready for a digital signage application.

Here’s a video of Earl Naegele, Managing Director at Peerless-AV explaining this Kiosk at a 2018 E4 AV Tour Stop.

And, Almo’s content creation services stands ready to provide dealers with content solutions for their customers.  Almo provides dealers with standardized and custom solutions utilizing HTML5 cloud-based content and an easy-to-use CMS for end-users.  This includes end-user training to fully complete the project.

BTW, did you know that Almo recently acquired Insteo, a specialized digital signage content and creative company?  Check it out!

Dealers now have the abililty to offer the ENTIRE digital signage solution and control the entire transaction.  In turn, Almo has the Peerless-AV KIPICT555 in stock and our content creation team ready to provide solutions to meet your customers’ visions.

Almo’s E4 AV Tour will be making stops this fall in Boston, MA on September 21 and Nashville, TN on October 26.  Don’t miss your chance to see the Kiosk and other exciting technology from your favorite manufacturer partners and register to attend now!

Raspberry Pi Now Being Served

In an earlier blog this year, I reviewed NEC’s recent announcement to incorporate the popular Raspberry Pi (RPi) computer with selected new V-Series and P-Series panels by mid-2017.

The addition of RPi continues NEC’s open platform philosophy utilizing OPS slots that provide the bridge for a variety of computers and digital signage OPS-compliant solutions. Now with the addition of low-cost RPi, software application developers and digital signage content creators have a flexible and scalable platform to choose from.

So, in a sense, NEC created something akin to a Food Network for digital signage content and IoT applications. The vision is for Developer “Chefs” everywhere to take their RPi creations from the kitchen to the marketplace table.
NEC & Raspberry Pi at InfoComm 2017

So, the Developer Chefs are busy with their recipes and I’m looking to get a taste of their RPi creations.  Not only are we moving ahead with our Almo Content Service partners busy adapting the current HTML5-based digital signage recipes to RPi but they’re mixing some new ones as well.

By year-end 2017, we plan to have a menu of low-cost, easy to install RPi selections to meet the creative demands of our dealer’s customers.

Another exciting development is how other content “Chef” houses are entering the marketplace with their recipes and creations. We’ve been contacted by numerous content houses who embrace RPi as their platform — a powerful, low-cost platform that allows them to bring their recipes to the digital signage table. They want to know more about NEC’s panels that, in a sense, are the beautiful plates to make their appetizing creations sparkle for wanting customers.

Stay tuned as my next blog will update all of you about our growing menu of RPi selections on the Almo digital signage menu.

In the meantime, you can see the RPi panels up close on the fall leg of the Almo Pro A/V E4 AV Tour, coming to New York on September 19 and October 3 in Irvine, CA.


Oh Integrator, May I Have Some Raspberry Pi with My Panel?

Not being a software developer, you can imagine my confusion when NEC Display Solutions of America  announced its upcoming line of commercial displays with the ability to insert a Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

“Raspberry Pi?” I said.  “Isn’t that some sort of dessert?”

Raspberry Pi was developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in 2012. The Foundation’s original intention was to provide an inexpensive tool for the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries. But like many inventions, the original model became far more popular than anticipated, spreading into many other commercial uses.

As I continued my inquiry, I was informed that the Raspberry Pi Compute Module is a tiny PC that looks like a small board of laptop memory. First introduced in 2014, it’s basically a small alternative to a full-sized Raspberry Pi computer (which is only about the size of a credit card).

The upcoming line of NEC V-Series and P-Series  displays will have screen sizes ranging from 40 to 80 inches, and use a Pi Compute Module to power digital signage and other applications. There’s an internal bay in each display that will accept either a first-gen Raspberry Pi Compute Module or recently-introduced Compute 3 Module. These new displays are due to ship in Q2 2017 and will be available from Almo ProAV.

So, how will the NEC displays with the Raspberry Pi module (which, by the way, is making my stomach growl right now), be used? Well, in addition to powering digital signage applications, the Raspberry Pi Foundation envisions NEC displays being used for interactive presentations and other Internet of Things applications. Oh, oh….there’s that “IoT” talk again…

How does this benefit YOU?

Bottom line, is that with Raspberry Pi, software application developers and digital signage content creators now have many flexible and scalable platforms to choose from.  All this new world of capabilities inserts into an elegant design of displays suitable for smooth installations in any environment.  No more external media players or PCs with every display.  Can you imagine the power savings and ease of installation?  So ask yourself Mr. Digital Signage Integrator, are you embracing this powerful platform to offer your end-users innovation?  Take a bite of the Pi!

Our strategic initiative to team up with Raspberry Pi is an example of how we continue to ensure that an organization in any sector has the most advanced technology in place to meet their application needs. Our open platform approach provides display intelligence at any time, thanks to our modular and interchangeable design. Integrating the Raspberry Pis with our displays will provide businesses with advanced technology suitable for digital signage, streaming and presenting to enhance the overall visual experience at an affordable price point,” said Stefanie Corinth, Senior Vice President Marketing and Business Development at NEC Display Solutions Europe GmbH.

And as contributor Bob Raikes stated three months ago in Display Daily, “I see this as quite an elegant solution for NEC. The company is not in the TV business, unlike competitors that are in the digital signage business like Samsung, LG and Philips, so it has not had the economies of scale to simply exploit technology developed for Smart TVs, as the others have been able to do. By adopting Pi, NEC is able to exploit the volume of the Pi to keep costs relatively down (the older Compute Module is currently selling for less than $30) and offer a level of price and performance that is competitive”

We are working with our Almo Content Services partners to take advantage of this new and exciting offering from NEC. There are many emerging content creation software offerings written for the Raspberry Pi platform and we plan to offer our integrators and dealers the latest in innovative and interactive digital signage.

I invite you to write me and let me know about your taste for Raspberry Pi.  I’ll be happy to post your comments on future posts as this exciting combination of NEC displays and Raspberry Pi content is introduced into the US digital signage marketplace.

So, if Raspberry Pi is on the panel menu, I’ll have one with my cappuccino, please!

An Emerging World of Outdoor Displays in Commercial Applications

I’ve noticed over the last year the increasing use of outdoor displays in commercial applications.  Once regulated to residential porches and light commercial use (such as a sports bar’s outdoor covered patio), manufacturers are now producing displays that eliminate the need for environmental enclosures and kiosks.

Today, properly specified displays provide many benefits compared to the traditional panel within an enclosure or kiosk.  Some of those benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Weatherproof operation at a considerable lower cost without expensive environmental enclosures & kiosks
  • Better picture due to no gap between the screen and an outer enclosure glass that may hinder picture quality
  • Overall reduction in physical size and weight for the application
  • Simpler mounting and installation
  • Ease of on-going maintenance

But how does a design engineer specify the right outdoor panel for a particular environmental application?  It’s relatively simple – match the properly-rated display to the outdoor demands of the application.  First, assess the application environmental demands:

  • Environmental temperature extremes.
  • Dust & water extremes (both type of dust and at what angles they can attack a panel).
  • Under cover or in direct sunlight.
  • Maintenance access (e.g., mounted high, extremely restricted location, etc.).
  • Exposure to glass-breaking projectiles like rocks and such.

Now, match the display to the environmental demands of the application.

  • Temperature Extremes: Coldest and warmest extremes a display can safely operate.
  • Dust and Moisture: Determine a display’s rating using either a NEMA Enclosure Rating (relative dust & particle resistance measurement) or the more popular “IP’ Rating (Ingress Protection as defined by DIN EN 60529).  An IP rating indicates the external conditions enclosures can withstand.  It describes a display’s scope of protection during use when exposed to temperatures, fuel and oil and their fumes, chemical clouds, acid based moisture and dust entering the display. For example, the “I” in IP has a scale of 1 to 6 that defines the protection against contact and ingress of dust.  The “P” has a scale of 0 to 9k that defines ingress of moisture from water droplets to high pressure steam cleaning.
  • Indirect or Direct Sunlight: If direct sunlight is a factor, consider a panel with UV optical bonding that can eliminate reflection & refraction glare so it can be easily seen in direct sunlight.  Note that simply being a high brightness panel (1500+ nits) doesn’t necessarily translate to good picture in direct sunlight.  It’s hard to out bright the sun!
  • Impact Resistant: Determine if the display needs to be protected from impacts.  And should the screen be broken, make sure it is shatter proof to protect nearby viewers and property.
  • Maintenance: Some displays will be mounted high or in difficult to reach places.  The less maintenance of filters and the ability to be hosed-off or pressure washed can be key.

Almo ProAV partners with Peerless-AV to offer a family of outdoor displays starting with the IP55-rated UltraView Series up to the IP68-rated Xtreme series.  We can match the right display for the environmental demands of temperatures, dust & moisture, direct sunlight, impact resistance, and ease of maintenance.  Also, we will assist in pairing the proper outdoor, wind-rated mount.  Feel free to contact me or your Almo ProAV Account Rep.  We’ll be happy to assist you in specifying the right display for your outdoor application.

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