I offered to do some research to figure out how we might operate such a display. Here’s the result of my research.
Summary: Rise Vision looks pretty good! risevision.com
There’s a company in Toronto called Rise Vision. They offer an open-source electronic sign system at zero cost (they make their money running electronic sign board systems for very large organizations such as major corporations, hotel chains, and state universities).
Rise Vision is integrated with Google Apps, which we already use in the St. Paul’s church office for email and calendars.
It’s possible to build either interactive or non-interactive sign displays using Rise Vision. Most of their displays are non-interactive. That is, people just look at them rather than click on them or touch them.
We would control the signboard system by logging into the Rise Vision web site. We would use the Google Apps logins we already have for that. Control of the signboard system is only available to authorized people.
Their signboards can be set up to take all sorts of live information, including:
- Events from a Google Calendar
- Postings from a WordPress web site
- Collections of images and slides
- Snippets from various web sites
- Weather and stock tickers
- Youtube videos
- etc. etc. etc.
I set up a couple of sample signboard layouts that take live information from St. Paul’s Google Calendar and website. Here’s an example you can view online to get an idea of the potential content of the signboard.
What kind of equipment is needed for the signs themselves? A dedicated networked personal computer connected to a display. When the signboard is running, the personal computer’s mouse and keyboard serve no purpose; they can be disconnected or hidden out of reach of little fingers.
If we were to set up a signboard, it would need an old laptop with wifi, connected by VGA cable to a TV set or computer monitor. We can add as many signboards as we need. Rise Vision supplies a software download for each signboard’s computer that automatically starts up the display when the computer boots up.
How would we keep the signboards fresh?
- Keep the Google Calendar up to date.
- Put announcements in the “events” section of our WordPress web site, and give them expiration dates.
We already do those things, and Rise Vision uses that information directly. Both of those tasks can already be done by any member of the congregation who learns how and gets a login and password.
We can also go into Rise Vision once in a while and change up the display layout to keep things fresh. For example, we could change the color scheme as we change the parament colors for the church year.
I don’t know if we want to actually put up these signboards. But I do know it’s possible to do so. I think it’s worth a try. Put your thoughts in the comments section or send me a note.
Yours in the cause of the Good News,