Backend development for a digital display management app
Digital signage is a rapidly growing market, expected to reach nearly $36 billion by 2026. Studies have shown that digital signage increases customer engagement and satisfaction and offers a substantial ROI, both through increased sales and advertising income.
Technological advances have made it possible for business owners to equip their locations with digital signage solutions that offer touch-screen interaction, facial recognition, and automated, custom marketing. However, a key element in the adoption of digital signage is ease-of-use. Owners require comprehensive, intuitive digital display solutions that make it simple to use their screens to their full potential.
The challenges of digital display management
Owners of retail stores, cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, medical offices, and various other businesses install TVs or screens in order to broadcast their menus, create a pleasant atmosphere, and also entertain visitors. However, many owners face numerous problems using their screens effectively, especially when they need to manage content on multiple screens.
Some owners use flash drives to display menus and advertisements on their screens. However, this is inconvenient, since they have to get administrators or staff to transfer videos to a USB flash drive for every TV in every location. This is even more impractical when they have dozens of locations, for example, a restaurant chain. In addition, videos are often formatted or downloaded incorrectly, and flash drives are easily misplaced.
Some use informational flyers in their establishments instead. However, experience suggests that it is more effective to display information on a screen, since dynamic content is better at attracting and retaining attention. Plus, there is no need to spend money printing new editions with every change in the menu or new promotion.
The solution for managing on-screen content
Owners can avoid the pitfalls of in-store informational screens by using a remote screen/display control system that allows them to control their TVs from anywhere. This is where Liqvid comes in.
Liqvid is a digital signage software developer for display owners. It has been on the Russian market for two years, and, in 2020, it entered the Asian market. Liqvid software is installed in more than a thousand locations, including business centers, shopping centers, residential complexes, post offices, supermarkets, subways, and fitness clubs.
Their main digital signage content management software products are:
- Liqvid Live - the solution to manage content on TV screens
- Liqvid Audience - a block designed to analyze the audience in real-time and tailor content accordingly
- Liqvid SSP - a fully automated advertisement platform for content scheduling and payments
Managing multi-screen video walls and displays across multiple locations is simple with Liqvid’s digital signage player and remote screen monitoring system. Liqvid partners include companies of all sizes, including Yandex, Mail.ru, Sheremetyevo Airport, Hybrid, and many others.
Liqvid and Evrone collaboration
Liqvid contacted us for help in November 2020. They have their own internal development team that clearly plans out all Ruby development processes and tasks. When they gain a new client, the team focuses all their efforts on the client’s needs. However, this means that the internal team does not always have enough time to work on their list of nice-to-have features and tasks.
So, they asked Evrone for help with a task that involved converting videos for various devices and developing a service for connecting displays. We helped them develop all the solutions they required in just two months.
We started our collaboration by allocating a Ruby developer to solve video conversion issues (FFMPEG) they had. We determined that, for the successful resolution of the problems and the development of a media converter, it was best to use Amazon Lambda, as it solves a huge number of issues related to scaling. We just had to write a function, test it, and all the load issues were solved by Amazon.
Media converter development
We used Ruby on Jets for the video converter development, which is an easy-to-use, Rails-like framework used to create API endpoints and recurring jobs. It provides an abstraction on top of Lambda, and the generated functions can always be verified via the AWS console.
The application listens to the AWS S3 bucket to create a file. After the file in the bucket has been created, the application downloads it, with the specified conversion parameters, using FFMPEG and puts the result in another bucket for ready-made files.
Parameters for conversion can be passed to the parameters hash using the metadata key. The main task of the application is to transcode video clips and audio tracks with specified video and audio codecs (or cut the audio track completely).
In short, AWS S3 has 2 buckets: one with files that need to be re-encoded, the other with ready-made ones. The application first listens to the event in the “input” bucket. When a file appears there, it picks it up, compresses it, and puts it in the “output” bucket, with the ready-made files that the main system application works with. Any video file that needs to be re-encoded into the specified audio and video codec falls into the bucket. And if metadata is not provided, the default parameters will be `video: h264`, `audio: mp3`, and container `mp4`.
In the digital signage industry, very few companies have video converters to provide support for a variety of media formats. So, our development assistance gives Liqvid a significant edge over the competition. Customers who use such software in their stores usually have very weak devices, and if some inexperienced marketer sends a 4K advertising video to their screens, the content will not display correctly and may even damage the equipment.
However, with a video converter tool, they can configure everything correctly, adjust the format effectively, and ensure that all devices work smoothly. This is a great competitive advantage that really elevates Liqvid over other providers.
Liqvid was pleased with our assistance and has since turned to us for help with other tasks, including frontend development, DevOps, and infrastructure development. In May 2021, we will be providing the client with backend development help to resolve some minor issues. We look forward to a continuous, fruitful cooperation in the future. If you need help programming a video converter or developing a solution to manage content on digital screens, let us know via the form below, and we will be in touch with you soon to see how we can help.