Microsoft and Intel Unveil Dev Platform for Digital Signage

Microsoft and Intel Corp. released an embedded technology platform for digital signage applications that offers an interactive screen and the ability to track users.

The two companies showed a digital sign prototype back in January. It consists of two large panels -- one is holographic for advertising displays; the other is an LCD touchscreen that allows shoppers to interact with the sign and find items in a store. The prototype also has the ability to assess those who use it. Third-party software in the platform provides "anonymous video analytics" that can detect the height and gender of a user.

A Digital Signage Evaluation Kit for developers has been released and can be accessed from the Taiwan-based WinMate Communication Inc. Web site. The cost for the kit ranges from $999 to $2,000.

A number of companies are already working on digital signage applications using Microsoft and Intel technologies. Those companies are AOpen Inc., C-nario, Digital Panorama, DT Research Inc., Harris Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Micro Industries Inc., NCR/Netkey Inc., NEC Corp. and YCD Multimedia, both companies said.

The new platform uses Intel Core i5/i7 processors and leverages Intel vPro and Intel Active Management technologies to support remote administration, even when a sign is "powered down," according to Intel. Windows Embedded Standard 7 componentized OS runs on the embedded technology platform, which uses the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 and Windows Presentation Foundation. The platform lets developers control power-saving features in digital signage application software. They can also set up applications to leverage touchscreen capabilities. Remote management of the platform is possible using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. Administrators can set up Active Directory Group Policies and manage digital signage application software using virtual desktop infrastructure.

Microsoft and Intel announced the new platform at the Screenmedia Expo Europe 2010 event in May in London.