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Android: a smarter approach to ROI for digital displays

Tim de Ruiter explains the key areas to focus on when investing in digital signage and displays and why it’s important to think long term.

Whether in a public venue, a corporate boardroom or a hotel guest room, there are many features to consider when specifying digital signage and professional display solutions. As well as picture quality and connectivity, in today’s economic environment, return on investment is becoming a key requirement.

Recent figures from AVIXA show that investment in AV reached record levels in 2019, topping $247 billion globally. By 2024, that number is forecast to rise above $325 billion. But while the market is in undeniably good health, for many companies and organisations budgets will remain tight. It’s therefore imperative for decision makers, AV and IT managers et al, to ensure their investments cover all bases. Quality and functionality need to work for the immediate need, and into the future as well.  

In today’s market, connectivity plays a major role in any discussion when it comes to AV, and displays are no different. One question that’s often asked when comparing AV products that, on the face of things, are similar in design, is why choose a digital display or pro TV with Android? An Android-based operating system, though, offers many features and benefits – both to the businesses operating and maintaining the displays and, ultimately, to their customers and end users. 

Enter Android System on Chip

2015 saw a gear shift in the Smart TV marketplace, with many major manufacturers bringing new levels of connectivity to their mid- to high-end consumer TV offering. With first development roots spanning as far back as the early 1980s, the cost and efficacy of Smart technology had stabilised and demand was growing, making it a viable development for the wider marketplace. 

Recognising this demand, the product team at Philips Professional Display Solutions (Philips PDS) had started working on a new back-end system for its displays, researching all development options to ensure a technology that would deliver on picture quality and performance, connectivity and data security, as well as reducing cost of ownership.

Android has clear benefits for software developers in the AV arena, which in turn deliver advantages for installers and integrators, as well as end users. 

An open source platform, with a valuable and, conveniently, free Software Development Kit (SDK) that assists developers with knowledge sharing and access to a superior technology framework, Android does not require developers to pay additionally for licences or royalties and development can be fast and efficient.

For AV software developers, the nature of the Android SoC offers the ability to bring a hybrid approach to developing software for Philips’ professional displays. This includes the opportunity to add native apps that can then benefit from the more proactive security and performance upgrades of the platform itself. 

The Philips Android SoC also offers advantages in performance, software development and hardware integration, wider app choice and support, and greater flexibility as well. 

For integrators and installers, the Android SoC gives clear business advantages, including reduction of costs and simplified installation. Apps are updated in the background, allowing up to date user experiences without the need for extended licences or implementation.

Philips’ Android SoC also delivers to reduce points of failure. With built-in WiFi or 4G module, no media player and only one power cable and one network cable required, the cost of additional power sockets or connections is negated. 

Running Philips’ CMND content management system or dedicated third party-developed software for full remote management of all displays, both easily implemented on the system, offer proven time efficiencies too. In fact, now, with so many native app signage companies offering solutions that fully integrate with the Philips Android SoC, set up choice is almost boundless.

For end users

The use of Android is also advantageous for end users, delivering a tried and trusted, recognised experience. And with so many software developers working with Android, it immediately offers a wider choice of apps and greater flexibility, bringing efficiencies that deliver reduced cost of ownership. 

What’s more, with the ability to run native apps with native playback using Open Graphics Library (Open GL), image quality and display performance are consistently outstanding.

SoC into the future

Since its implementation into the arena in 2015, the Philips SoC has received a number of updates – it is available on all Philips PDS displays, with most recent product introductions featuring Dual Quad Core / Octa Core and Android 7.1. When it comes to true 24/7 business application, device security and control, the Philips Android SoC will be a winner well into the future.

Tim de Ruiter is business manager EMEA for Philips Professional Display Solutions