Take the Gamble Out of Digital Display Design

May 5, 2020 Majeed Kamran

Digital display, IoT development

Spain’s Christmas lottery, held each year on December 22, is ranked as the world's richest. In 2019 it paid out a whopping 2.38 billion euros.

But running a countrywide lottery system, with more than 10,000 point-of-purchase stores and an existing audience of 5.8 million viewers/week, is a complicated task. It became time for the Spanish Lottery (Loterias y Apuestas del Estado) to implement a system-wide refresh—with the latest digital signage technologies.

The lottery wanted sleek new screens with great image quality and a robust and reliable digital signage platform.  And it required a solution that was easy to deploy, maintain, and remotely manage—from remote towns to big cities. As important, the digital signage circuit needed to be reliable, with the expectation of an eight-year operating lifetime.

AAEON, Telefonica On the Spot Services, Philips, and Crambo partnered to build and deploy a modern solution to meet the Spanish Lottery’s requirements. Together they co-developed a digital signage system around an AAEON-designed custom Intel® Smart Display Module (SDM) and the Philips P-Line full HD display. Crambo carried out the hardware integration, while Telefonica, the lottery’s prime vendor, solution designer, and service provider, deployed and operates the digital displays countrywide.

“This co-development partnership was a big challenge because it is one of the first solutions integrating these technologies, and the size of the deployment did not let any room for mistakes,” said Javier Lorente, Chief Marketing Officer of Telefonica On the Spot Services.“We had to find creative ways to get the quality of the solutions from Intel®, Philips, AAEON, and Crambo, and the services of Telefonica in a compelling and cost-effective offer to the customer.”

Robust and Reliable Digital Signage

The Intel technology deployed here offers the same features and interoperability as the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), making it extremely easy to replace in case of a failure. But it significantly shrinks the form factor to support much thinner displays.

The modules, available in two form factors, Small (SDM-S) and Large (SDM-L), facilitate an all-in-one design for visual IoT applications, such as the connected lottery screens. It eliminates the need for an external I/O by incorporating PCIe connectivity that uses a custom I/O receptacle board and offers extended features for video capture and high-resolution displays.

Robust design and long MTBF are also critical factors in the Spanish Lottery operating environments. The digital displays run 24×7, and if there’s a problem, it could take hours or more for a maintenance person to reach the site. This is not just inconvenient, it’s costly.

“Intel CPUs are designed with a 15-year warranty,” said Xavier Lopez, Key Account Manager at AAEON. “So, besides managing new content and 4K capabilities on new screens, these CPUs enable robust and fail-safe designs. And with the latest in interactive displaytechnology, performance of the countrywide lottery is significantly improved.”

“Intel® CPUs are designed with a 15-year warranty. So, besides managing new content and 4K capabilities on new screens, these CPUs enable robust and fail-safe designs.”
—@xalfaro74, @AAEON

Design Details

For its SDM design, AAEON chose the socket-type CPUs typically used in desktops. As a result, the digital display has the flexibility to install different CPUs for future upgrades.

The ASDM-L-CFS-A10-CL-N0001 module, built on the Intel® Core vPro processor, plugs directly into the Philips display for a compact hardware solution (Figure 1).

The AAEON module can be directly plugged into the display using an edge connector. (Source: AAEON)
Figure 1. The AAEON module can be directly plugged into the display using an edge connector. (Source: AAEON)

The system is connected to Telefonica’s spotdyna platform, a retail management platform that enables digital customer journeys inside physical stores, including digital signage circuits. “Spotdyna enables the remote management of the solution from a business and content perspective, and integrates demographic profiling devices and other in-store elements,” said Lorente. “The management of the digital center service is done directly by the Lottery, via a drag-and-drop interface that really simplifies publishing content on lottery screens and gathering activity data.”

In terms of the nuts and bolts of the actual design, AAEON’s SDM-L cards slot into Philips’ 4K/FHD flat panels via specialized connectors. The edge connector design features a variety of interface technologies, including USB 3.1 Gen 1 and HDMI 2.0 interfaces. The module also supports thin screens of different sizes, depending on the actual size of the lottery store that will host the screen.

It’s important to note that the Intel Core i5 8500T vPro processor is integrated directly on the display using the SDM-L slot while simultaneously supporting two 4K screens. This enables the digital signage design to switch between primary and secondary inputs and thus increase reliability.

“The physical integration improves maintenance and robustness, which were some of the main requirements for the project,” said Lorente. “It also improves the quality of the contents thanks to the better display and processor, and eases the remote control of the whole system. It also obviously eliminates the need for an external box.”

From Paper to Smart Displays

Before its deployment of digital displays, the Spanish Lottery was the biggest consumer of paper in the country—printing the new prices every day in all of its 10,000 premises. The original implementation of digital signage 12 years ago was a big step forward both environmentally and logistically.

Now, the entirely new design, using the latest SDM and digital display technologies, provides further progress in running the countrywide lottery. And it could leap into new digital solutions such as online gaming and self-service kiosks thanks to its connected, fully managed content service model.

And, of course, making it easier for Spanish citizens to purchase future tickets, and perhaps be a winner in the world’s largest Christmas lottery.

About the Author

Majeed Kamran

Majeed Ahmad is former Editor-in-Chief of EE Times Asia, a sister publication of EE Times. Moreover, as the Editor-in-Chief at Global Sources, a Hong Kong-based trade and technology publishing house, he spearheaded magazines related to electronic components, consumer electronics, and computer, security and telecom products. Majeed is a journalist with an engineering background and two decades of experience in writing, editing and acquiring technical content. He is also author of six books on electronics: Smartphone, Nokia’s Smartphone Problem and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices, Mobile Commerce 2.0, Age of Mobile Data, and Essential 4G Guide.

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