Raspberry Pi, Digital Signage, and Business

I have been thinking a lot about different businesses, and how Slack Space can help give them a competitive advantage in their marketplace. I have had a few ideas lately that I could write about, and I may later on, but one idea keeps coming to the foreground. So, let’s talk about digital signage, a small computer called the Raspberry Pi, and a cheap but reliable way to set up digital signage for your organization.

What is digital signage?

Well, in the digital world, businesses are no longer relying on a static display for their advertising media. Instead, we are seeing monitors and TVs displaying all types of information all over the place, both in a static and dynamic way. Digital signage allows a business to display short videos, presentations, conference times, and many other types of information in a practical and appealing way. We see them everywhere, such as at McDonald’s, corner stores, restaurants, schools, museums, hospitals, and hotels.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi’s are credit card sized development computers meant to teach school kids about computers. This boards run about $35 by themselves, and can cost up to $60 with the peripherals needed to develop on them. However, they are much more than that, and many adults are finding innovative ways to use them. To learn more about the Raspberry Pi, you can check out their web page here.

There are a few options out there when it comes to digital displays and the Raspberry Pi. However, I chose to use Pi Presents.  Pi Presents was a solution for retired programmer and software systems engineer, Ken Thompson, who needed a cheap but effective way to display museum exhibits. Ken created Pi Presents and offered it to the world. While it is open to use, he does ask for a donation if used in a commercial organization. It is well worth a donation to him for continuously updating the code.

Installation of Pi Presents

I have worked in technology for over 20 years, and while Pi Presents seems a little intimidating at first, Pi Presents was one of the easiest programs to get up and working. Thank you Ken Thompson for that.

You can find all the installation information for Pi Presents v 1.2.3 here.

All you need to get going is a Raspberry Pi and Pi Presents. Follow Ken’s very clear instructions and you will have a very cheap, low energy consuming, digital signage device that will let you control your on premises advertisement, from video to short text messages. You could control a restaurant menu board, or create an interactive kiosk.

 

One of the first steps is to download Raspbian from here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/

And then, using Windows, extract the image to the SD card. The program you will want to use is Win32DiskImager shown below.

Win32DiskImager
Win32DiskImager

 

After you have got the image on the SD card, slide it into the Raspberry Pi and plug it into a monitor with your HDMI cord, and then power the Pi up.

Once you have the Pi booted, use a terminal to run these commands:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Now sit back and take a drink of your coffee.

You may also want to go and enable SSH from the Pi config. You can do this from the desktop or from the terminal. The commands are:

cd /usr/bin
sudo ./raspi-config

Under interfacing options, you will find “Enable SSH”

 

After you have the Pi set up, go to the Pi Presents site and follow their installation instructions, and in 10 minutes or so, you will have a powerful digital signage device that can give your company the competitive edge you’re looking for.

 

pipresent
pipresent install

If you have questions, feel free to ask below, or if you want Slack Space to help you set something up, give us a call at 573-355-5O44.