A digital media application (or app) is a collection of layouts and widgets that can be programmed to run at a specific time, duration, and location. The wealth of content creation tools available in Appspace means that designers are limited only by their imagination in creating and managing everything that’s in an app.
Each app is designed to cater to a specific media location and purpose. An app can have multiple layouts and functions, suitable for use as a main entrance information screen or to present commercial content via an elevator lobby advertising panel. Apps can also stream live data content and widgets, useful for news feeds or currency exchange boards. Interactive elements within an app enable dynamic media content to be shown, such as in a tourist information hub.
Application Use Cases
The following are just a few of the many examples of how Appspace apps can be tailored to match any business, commercial, or organizational needs.
Digital Sales Brochure
This interactive app aligns with an enterprise’s current marketing strategy to showcase the latest products and services. Sales and marketing teams can publish new content directly to the app, ensuring that customers always have a fresh and relevant experience.
Touch-enabled screens allow users to browse and compare their options. A contact details option, as shown below, gives users the choice to receive updates and promotions via email.
With Appspace you can build IPTV apps that display live streaming video (video formats, network transport formats, and bit rates are dependent on media player capabilities) and high-definition (HD) content with integrated video information, playback controls, and support for more than 100 channels.
Dynamic Information Display
Information displays are a versatile and effective solution for welcoming visitors and presenting any organization’s branded information in a dynamic and engaging way. Integration with calendar systems from Exchange, Lotus Notes, or Google Calendar also makes it possible to display dynamic event boards.
Using Appspace for video walls makes it possible to showcase ultra-high-resolution content at up to 12 megapixels across multiple displays, in any configuration, with just a single player device. Video walls are ideal for large conference rooms, main lobbies of corporate headquarters, universities, upscale hotels, and convention centers, as well as large shopping malls and street facades. (The video wall app is applicable only to approved video wall-capable media player devices.)
Appspace applications are technically described as an XML document that contains all the required information to detail the display, behavior, and schedules of an app. The application XML is downloaded by the media player. The software on the media player renders the app on screen based on the data in the XML file.
The organization of the XML file is as follows:
Application – The root of the document is the Application Node. This contains sub-properties such as the application ID, name, and resolution. Schedules – Every app by default contains one schedule that is active all the time. If layout scheduling is enabled, each layout playlist will be contained within a schedule. Layouts – Each schedule contains a collection of layouts. Widgets – A widget is the basic building block of an app. Widgets provide the look and feel of the layout as well as the functionality of an app. Certain widgets such as the Media Zone widget can link their content to other widgets in different apps. Visual – determines the look and feel of the widget on the layout. Content – defines the data set or media files that populate a widget. Actions – defines any user-defined action scripting on the widget to exhibit dynamic and interactive behavior. Permissions – defines a list of rights for specific users to view or edit any properties of the widget. Application Properties – List of system and user-defined key value pairs for non-visual app properties such as screensaver time.
Device Sync Workflow
All media player devices registered with Appspace contain a software module called the Download Manager. The Download Manager maintains content synchronization between the media player and any app updates made in Appspace.
It works as follows:
Content Check – The Download Manager will query its Appspace instance every minute by requesting the app timestamp value. If the timestamp value returned by Appspace is equal to the value stored on the media player, then the app is considered in sync. The Download Manager idles and repeats the check at the next minute. If the timestamp value is different, the media player is considered out of sync with the app on Appspace. The Download Manager will begin the next process, Content Download.
Content Download – When the Download Manager determines that a media player is out of sync, it will begin a content download process by requesting a file listing from Appspace. The Download Manager determines the new files that need to be downloaded and the old files that need to be removed. Once the download is completed, the Download Manager will validate the files against the file list to ensure there are no corruptions. If all new files are validated, the media player software is notified to display the new content. Concurrently the Download Manager will send a “content in sync” status message to Appspace.
Media Player Architecture
Appspace apps are designed to be agnostic to a variety of media player hardware and technologies by being defined as a neutral XML document. Eventually, however, a specific media player hardware and technology must be able to interpret the XML document and render the app visually. This is achieved using the Appspace media player software that is installed on media player devices registered with an Appspace instance.
All media player software contains the same basic components responsible for implementing content synchronization, scheduling logic, application logic, and visual presentation. The details of each component are as follows:
- Download Manager – module responsible for checking app timestamps between the media player and its registered Appspace instance. Performs content downloads and content validation. Reports content synchronization and network status. Optionally reports proof-of-play metrics.
- Schedule Manager – responsible for evaluating any scheduling properties defined and determines correct content for playout based on schedule rules and device time.
- Business Logic – responsible for implementing any user-defined action scripting rules and conditions for dynamic and interactive app behaviors.
- Presentation Logic – responsible for rendering the app visuals using the technology-specific implementation of the media player software.
Appspace currently supports media player software developed in Flash Action Script 2.0, allowing it to be run on devices such as the Cisco DMP 4310 and Edge 300. A DirectX-based media player allows it to run on PC-based video wall players, and an HTML/HTML5-based media player allows it to run on browser-based devices such as the Cisco DMP 4400 and smartphones.