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iCOMPEL, your all-in-one digital signage solution

iCOMPEL, your all-in-one digital signage solution

This video demonstration shows how easy and affordable it is to create dynamic, eye-catching digital signage with iCOMPEL™, a family of browser-based, networked digital signage appliances from Black Box. The demo discusses how to connect the appliances, access the system via a browser, load various media formats, and create layouts and schedule playlists using the integrated design and management software. It also shows how to add zones to a layout, insert RSS news feeds into a zone within a presentation, and set up ad-hoc capabilities to give local users to change content at the screen.


Kevin (host): Digital signage. We’ve all seen how powerful this technology is for targeted communications and message display. But now, the system that runs it is just as impressive. In this Tips for Techs, we’re going to take a look at the operational side of digital signage and learn just how easy it is to make this high-tech messaging solution work for you. Here‘s David Dalzell from Black Box Network Services to show you more

David: Hello, I’m David Dalzell from Black Box Network Services. I’m here to give you an overview of iCOMPEL, an all-in-one digital signage solution that you can use as a standalone system or incorporate into your current network without having to install software. That’s because all the software you need is included. iCOMPEL is a Web appliance; it’s a Web server on one side and a flexible media player on the other. All it needs is an IP address on your network, or you can simply use a PC plus a crossover cable.

iCOMPEL is everything you need to develop a display image—we call this a “layout”—manage your content into playlists, and play it 24 x 7 according to your schedule. It will even allow you to set up a schedule that changes throughout a day, a week, a year, or a month. iCOMPEL will play just about any media that you’ve uploaded, or it will collect publicly available media such as off-air TV or Web pages and RSS news feeds or stock tickers from the Internet. You can use just one standalone iCOMPEL or build a network of any size using the built-in media distribution mechanism called Channel Manager.

Let’s start our demonstration by showing how easy it is to get going. I have an iCOMPEL player here connected by a VGA cable to an LCD panel on one side and to a port on my Ethernet network on the other. I’m going to use an ordinary PC with its browser to tell iCOMPEL what to play when and where. Let’s get connected. Launch a browser and point it at the iCOMPEL. Give a username and password and we’re into the home page.

Media players are all about when, where, and what media to play. With iCOMPEL, this translates into schedules, layouts, and playlists. Let’s start with a schedule. The current schedule shows a typical on-during-working-hours/off-at-night-and-weekends setup. We can add any degree of complexity to this if we want to. Or we can even set up different schedules for different times into the future to cover holidays, etc.

Now let’s look at the “where on the display” (formally a layout). iCOMPEL has many preinstalled layouts. You can use one of these or simply create your own from scratch. Let’s make a simple layout and add a new zone, which we’ll call Zone E since I already have the other four zones. Size the zone and let iCOMPEL know what sort of media are likely to play in this zone. This new Zone E is long and thin, so it probably needs some text. Let’s add an RSS news feed. CNN looks good, so we’ll go with that. Let’s set some parameters on how the text should look. We might want to change to our corporate font or alter the scrolling style. Background Zone A has a default image, but let’s add something a bit more relevant. Backgrounds tend to pretty static, so we can put an indefinite duration on this item.

Zone B is our “main attraction” zone, so let’s get our corporate movie in here. We can use just about any video WMV, MPEG, AVI, or QuickTime® format. We can also bring in live TV from an external set-top box. Zone C looks like it could use some product pictures. Let’s upload a picture from my PC and add it to the playlist. Now let’s add a complete folder of JPEGs. Why not have these play in a random sequence to keep the display looking fresh! Zone D might be used for a message put in by a local user using the iCOMPEL’s simplified interface. We call this an “ad-hoc” text item. We can give a local receptionist access to just this item.

OK, so it looks like we are all done. Let’s hit the Activate Schedules button and look at the result. If I want to change the ad-hoc text, this is what the receptionist will see. If I’m at a remote location from the iCOMPEL unit, I can always see a snapshot of what’s playing. If you’re the manager of the unit, you may be interested in its health and how busy it is dealing with your media. And if you’re a technician doing the installation, there are plenty of setup parameters and controls like display resolution and network setup. One of the big benefits of iCOMPEL is that it doesn’t require a lot of network bandwidth. It operates as a forward-and-store device, so it won’t compromise other applications running on your network.

I hope this quick demo of the iCOMPEL has helped you see how easy it is to make a professional-quality digital signage presentation with this highly affordable and very effective device. The beauty of iCOMPEL is that within a few minutes, you’ll be comfortable using the system and within a few hours, you’ll be creating and distributing world-class content. With iCOMPEL, you can display content to one screen, the same content to multiple screens, or different content to different screens in multiple locations. For a more detailed demonstration and advice on how you can use iCOMPEL in your environment, please contact Black Box today.

Kevin: With iCOMPEL, you now have the power to easily make your digital signage work exactly the way you want it. And Black Box is your one-box, one-company solution for digital signage. If you have questions or you’re ready to get digital signage, just call our toll-free support hotline at 877-877-2269 and let one of our experts help you get started today.    

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