Friday, September 22, 2017

Using a ChromeBox for digital signage and PA System

I was tasked to look into a replacement for a digital signage/public announcement (PA) System.  The old signage/PA system was running a single core 2.0 Ghz AMD barton running windows xp.  The System is about 15 years old not really maintained and extremely dated.  After looking at some third party vendors and the costs associated with them, we looked at using the new Google Sign Builder since the organization is on Google Apps anyway and it wouldn't hurt to look into a low cost, easy way to update and manage the digital signage/PA System.

The chrome devices are administered through the sign builder app and the Google Admin.

Chrome Management

Devices can be given different permissions, and settings by use of subdomains in the google admin area.  For example, there are 11 kiosk stations and 1 signage station and 1 general use chrome device for meetings.

As you can see you can assign devices to different sub domains which also allows you to give them different permissions and lets you also assign different chrome apps.

The chrome signage settings are found under chrome management in the picture above under device settings.  In the picture below I have chrome sign builder assigned to the signage sub domain and no other sub domain.

Chrome Device Settings

Chrome Sign Builder Kiosk Settings

With chrome sign builder you can assign all day schedules and you have a variety of settings you can use.  What was required for this project was the ability to do an all day running sign can can get updates, and run the closing announcements.  I found that it can do both.  However when you set this up make sure if there are others that need access you use a universal account; currently chrome sign builder can only work under one account.

I also found that the most important part of the URL for using chrome sign builder is 


start is set to true otherwise the slides will not play.  Start should always be set to true.

loop, if you want to have the presentation loop or not.  

delay, how long you want the slides to be on for before moving on to the next slide. (default is 3 seconds)

Signage Running (All Day Schedule)

The signage I've setup to run in presentation mode, with auto start and to loop with a delay of 7 seconds before switching slides.

As you can see in the image below I've also set the URL to reload every 10 minutes so that if any changes are made to the document it gets shown on the signage. (This is the setting for the all day schedule)

PA System.

The chome sign builder can work double duty much like the signage system before.  What I've done here is setup 3 separate google slides.  Since Google sides doesn't play audio I've converted the audio files that are used into movies using handbrake.

Some interesting things that came up while I was working with this.  The media I was working with is only about 30 seconds long (max) but if I set the content time to 1 minute it does not play also setting the zone size to 1px by 1px also caused a problem. 


The URL looks like this

These must have &slide=id.p to the url of the slide otherwise it will not play 

The content time I required was only 1 minute but it would should be set to 3 minutes.

zone is set to lower right and a size of the to 10px by 10px.  The Slides I need to play play but do not show up in front of the other signage.

Chrome Signbuilder Schedule

Example of PA System Notification Settings

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