Repurposing Windows 7 devices for digital signage at an Australian lottery giant
Founded in 2007, Entwined is a digital signage consultancy based in Brisbane, Australia that specializes in helping clients integrate their virtual customer experience into living, interactive environments.
For the last three years, Entwined has worked with Tabcorp Holdings Limited, Australia’s largest gaming and wagering company, after winning a tender to provide digital signage for Tabcorp’s Lotteries division retail network. The project, called DigiPOS, deploys between one and three digital signage screens at news agent locations across the network to promote upcoming draws and products available in the market.
At each location, Entwined provides all hardware—the screens, the media player, and the modem and sim card for the 4G network—necessary to run Tabcorp’s content, which uses Appspace as the content management system.
A seven-year deployment
Under the terms of their contracts, each franchisee or news agent within the Tabcorp retail network must upgrade their retail image every seven years. The retail network is composed primarily of small businesses, news agencies, and kiosks or terminals in shopping centers, supermarkets, and service stations. And, as of February 2016, when those agents upgrade, they must install the Entwined-supplied digital signage and media players. Entwined has currently upgraded 1,300 sites out of 4,000 in this seven-year rollout.
“We wanted to find ways to repurpose the Windows 7 media players and get them onto what we believed was a more stable environment for digital signage, which was Chrome OS.”
Cameron Hanns, Director at Entwined, explained that Entwined had Windows machines that were getting to the end of their three year warranty period: “We started to see challenges with Windows updates and controlling the environment. In the last couple of years, we primarily moved to Chrome for our media player infrastructure. We wanted to find ways to repurpose the Windows 7 media players and get them onto what we believed was a more stable environment for digital signage, which was Chrome OS.”
Introduction to CloudReady and Neverware
An introduction by Google led Hanns and Entwined to Neverware and CloudReady as an option to do exactly that. After in-depth exploration of CloudReady as a solution via R&D, validation, and testing in cooperation with the Neverware team, Entwined took CloudReady to Tabcorp as a potential solution.
Hanns explained that this was a significant investment for Tabcorp—not just the cost of CloudReady licenses, but also because of the need to plan out what a hardware swap would look like, particularly when many of the agents are not tech savvy.
“We had to make this as absolutely simple as possible, with no impact and no cost to the client,” Hanns said. “So we planned a rollout where we pulled an eighth of the product. We staged in our lab, in our staging environment, 25-50 players at a time. We dispatched them through the network so they were simply plug & play: unplug the old one, plug the new one in, and bring the other 50 back.”
Streamlining the process
However, because Entwined was using Lottery’s field services technicians, there was a need to further streamline the process. Entwined built a workflow app to make it even easier for the technicians. “People could get the player, go through the process, register it, get it upgraded in the field, and bring the other one back,” said Hanns.
“I’ve had a really good result with the outcome. A lot more stability, no more OS issues, no more Windows updates. We have far more control in that Chrome environment.”
“I’ve had a really good result with the outcome,” Hanns said. “A lot more stability, no more OS issues, no more Windows updates. We have far more control in that Chrome environment.”
Hanns concluded, “We upgraded 900 media players in the field in a 3-month period with minimal disruption to their network. We built a workflow engine and I think the way that we approached it to make it seamless was the critical part for the customer. We had great feedback from the customer that it did really go smoothly, and our operating system network stability post that is massive.”
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- Windows 7