There’s probably no more intriguing company in the “digital signage” space than BrightSign. Why the quotation marks for the market? Because we all know digital signage is such an antiquated and just inadequate term for a market that involves everything from wayfinding to control centers to experiential display-based systems that highly sophisticated companies such as Moment Factory and Obscura design and roll out. It’s an outdated term for a very complex, evolving market.
Back to BrightSign: tellingly, their DNA is rooted in Roku. Does the importance of that need a lot of explaining, in the Netflix/Amazon/Cloud landscape we all live in personally and professionally? Rather than narrate the story of the company, I’ll just point out that while BrightSign is a “media player” provider, they: A) are much more than that, and B) even as a media player vendor they out-competed so many competitors it’s futile to try to list them all. (Remember all those Android-based media players we all saw at the trade shows say 5 years back?) And there is the SoC issue (that discussion is for another article). So the media player discussion has evolved in a variety of ways in recent years, with that sometimes-lowly piece of hardware (wait, is it just hardware?) often punching above or below its weight class.
The use of media players, in digital signage, is tied up now with many other issues: the CMS used to run content (including the old server-based vs. SaaS offering debate), competing OS’s that run CMS software, more and more Cloud issues, and more prosaic issues such as heat and smoke in industrial kitchens. Such is the nature of most debates in digital signage, but with media players and the software they’re married to it’s more confusing.
BrightSign has been such a different kind of media player provider. Unlike most, they have been great at both the hardware side and the software side. The former is kinda self-explanatory, just go to any major trade show and see what media players are in most display manufacturers’ booths running screens. Or to the field of course. On the software side, they have had to navigate the market where they simultaneously: A) provide media players to run content from the CMS’s of others, B) offer as all media player hardware providers do now, a basic CMS of their own for some customers, and C) work with the many including big CMS providers to get those CMS companies to design and market versions of their CMS that are written specifically to work with BrightSign hardware and software layers.
Cut to the chase this week and next – BrightSign is launching a pretty ambitious new offering to the world, that’s being demo’d at ISE in Amsterdam the week of Feb. 4th. BrightSign’s new BSN.CLOUD is based on new functionalities in three areas: Content, Management, and Control. Those are the three main needs, from a get-the-content-to-the-screens then manage that content perspective, of digital signage. Previously, both BrightSign and all the CMS companies out there, were good at some of those things, but it’s always been a “cobble it together” kind of approach. And frankly integrators and end users have always been confused as to who does what in the chain. And most problematically, no one had the right or enough API’s at all three levels to optimally integrate the CMS of a third party provider with the software layers of a BrightSign solution for example.
The most important thing to know about BSN.CLOUD, “a robust player-management platform intended to provide secure and scalable networking options for end-users, integrators, network managers and DOOH operators,” is that BrightSign says that due to better API’s all the CMS companies can now better integrate with BrightSign at every level. And integrators now can more easily customize and roll out systems that let the integrator, if they choose to, take more control of functionality and not be frustrated by software layers that don’t play friendly with multiple sources and multiple tasks. (And the Control Cloud makes it easier to set up.)
I suppose some might ask if BrightSign is trying to compete with other CMS providers. I think that’s misreading it. If anything, BrightSign has showed consistently that they are great at bringing all the software layers into better harmony regardless of who is providing or managing the CMS. Pure CMS providers tend to be very vertically focused, they tend to optimize the functionality of their software around their vertical markets. They don’t typically get obsessed with finding new ways, or developing API’s to make content, control, and management layers work better together for any application and with, often, the need to integrate with other software platform. I’d say that Jeff Hastings and team at BrightSign are obsessed with that. And the fact that they have so many customers in so many verticals, so many areas of digital signage, means that they have to be.
I’ll be getting in-person demos of BSN.CLOUD at ISE in Amsterdam. In the meantime, here is the press release from BrightSign on 1-29-19:
BrightSign Announces BSN.cloud
A Cloud Management Platform for Connected Digital Signage Networks
LOS GATOS, CA – (January 30, 2019) – BrightSign LLC®, the global market leader in digital signage media players, announces the new BSN.cloud, a robust player-management platform driven by BrightSign OS 8.0, the commercial-grade operating system purpose-built for digital signage.
“BSN.cloud consists of three clouds,” explains Jeff Hastings, BrightSign CEO. “At the base level, the Control Cloud subscription is included with every player. It offers BrightSign customers simple provisioning and setup options and real-time data about player health.”
Within the Control Cloud level, the B-Deploy feature enables complete configuration of players remotely, dramatically reducing install times and making player setup or provisioning an almost automatic process. Large-scale rollouts are greatly simplified via new options for automatically setting up large groups of players simultaneously. And for small-scale rollouts, a new on-screen setup process utilizes QR codes for easy player setup via mobile phone. The Control Cloud also includes access to view real-time health information of the player and the ability to change configurations and deploy operating system updates in real time without having to ever physically interact with the player.
As always, BrightSign is committed to partnering with the leading digital signage solutions partners. Appspace, Carousel Digital Signage, Creative Realities, Diversified, Four Winds Interactive, Mvix, Reflect Systems and Signagelive are just a few of our partners in the process of using the BSN.cloud APIs to integrate their software with the BSN.cloud management platform. Regardless of the software chosen for a project, all BrightSign players can connect – at no charge – to BSN.cloud and take advantage of all the Control Cloud services described above.
“As it becomes increasingly common and more desirable to connect all kinds of devices to the cloud, digital signage for the vast majority will exist as connected networks,” continued Hastings. “BSN.cloud is a robust player-management platform intended to provide secure and scalable networking options for end-users, integrators, network managers and DOOH operators.”
The other two clouds within BSN.cloud are the Management Cloud and the Content Cloud. The Management Cloud is a data-driven cloud service that delivers a complete set of digital signage network management tools to the end-user. It collects and stores data about performance measures that are important to network managers such as advertising proof of play, player performance and health, remote snapshots, etc. The Management Cloud pushes out email notifications about issues important to end-users such as a subscription that is about to expire or players that are reporting errors. At the highest level, the Content Cloud adds the media library and content feeds, schedules, presentation management and content distribution tools.
BrightSign’s user interface into the BSN.cloud player management platform is the new BrightAuthor:connected which will be available in Q2 2019. Other UI’s will be available in the coming months from our CMS and channel partners. Partnership inquiries should be directed to [email protected] and all other inquiries to [email protected].
BrightSign LLC, the global market leader in digital signage media players, is headquartered in Los Gatos, California, with offices in Europe and Asia. BrightSign manufactures media players and provides free software and networking solutions for the commercial digital signage market worldwide, serving all vertical segments of the digital signage marketplace. From entry-level BrightSign LS players to BrightSign XT players offering state-of-the-art technology and unsurpassed performance, BrightSign’s products are known for their signature reliability, affordability, ease-of-use, and market-leading technology. For more information, visit www.brightsign.biz. Follow BrightSign at http://twitter.com/brightsign and http://www.facebook.com/BrightSignLLC.
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