Digital signage with the Pi

Hello. Today I want to share my experience with the development of a digital signage system for a friend of mine. By “digital signage system” I mean a system with a screen installed in a public place to display important messages and information for the viewers.

interfaceF
The final result

The requirements were the following: my friend owns a clinic and wanted to install a screen in the waiting area for informing the visitors of the need to register upon arrival, the list of surgeons currently on duty, etc.

This is clearly a job for the Raspberry Pi ! To be modern, I chose for the hardware configuration a Pi4, connected via HDMI to a 4K TV screen.

Now, which software to use ? Many solutions exist for a Pi-based digital signage, as listed for example here. In summary I need something:

  • That could be easily installed on a Pi4 (as a tool running on Debian, or as a complete OS),
  • That could be controlled remotely (e.g., over a web interface),
  • That allows to design the screen via blocks (top-left area, bottom of the screen, etc.), ideally with a wysiwyg interface,
  • That includes features such as the display of texts (still or scrolling), of photos or videos, of live video streams, of a clock, etc.,
  • That automatically changes the screen displayed according to a pre-defined schedule,
  • That could be easily managed by non-tech admins,
  • …and last, is free or inexpensive, as this is just for a very limited, single-screen system.

Thus I excluded the solutions relying for example on a simple USB stick with multimedia elements displayed by a player on the Pi, or more capable open sources solutions a little bit too technical for the targeted administrators of the system (including medical secretaries).

infobeamer

After several tests, I eventually selected info-beamer, a well developed solution checking all the requirement boxes.

controlerF
The configuration interface

After passing the hurdles of the learning curve (some modules are still under development and need some improvements), I must say that I am quite happy with the result.

testF
During the test phase

The system is now operational for several weeks on the clinic’s waiting room, with texts and pictures displayed according to a schedule that can be easily arranged by the secretaries.

 

 

waitingF
The screen in operation

Another success for the mighty Raspberry Pi !

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