I had a chance to get a demo of the software for creating interactive content for digital signage and other applications at CEW. This X2O platform is from X2O Media, Inc. (Montreal, Quebec), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barco NV (Kortrijk Belgium) since its acquisition in March, 2014.
I got a thorough explanation and demonstration of the X2O platform from Darin Crosby, Vice President of Sales for Barco – X2O Media. He says it is for more than just digital signage and can be used for developing any application that requires interactivity. The output of the X2O platform is HTML 5 code, so any display, computer or mobile device with HTML 5 capabilities can be the target for an X2O-developed application. No need to target Barco displays.
In terms of digital signage and interactive kiosks, X2O supports a wide variety of interfaces, including:
* Touch and multitouch screens
* Gesture control
* Magnetic stripe and barcode readers
* QR Codes
In addition to these interface types, additional interactive capabilities include augmented reality, Skype calls, texting and e-mail. The displayed screen can be automatically updated by a wide variety of real-time data sources, including social media. The data can then be shown using a bewildering variety of on-screen graphics, all under X2O’s control. I’m often bewildered by these complex, multi-source interactive displays but I take it the average tablet or smartphone user is not. Despite its ability to develop sophisticated interactive content, with graphics comparable to what is seen on TV, the software is designed for the non-programmer.
While X2O is designed for the non-programmer, Barco does offer training classes in the use of the software. Barco also provides project engineering services which can include X2O-based interactive software.
In his demo of the X2O platform, Crosby started with a blank screen and showed step-by-step how an interactive app can be developed on the platform. He used the pull-down menus to fill a target screen on his monitor with the desired objects. These objects could all be customized if none of the pull-down defaults met a user’s needs. When Crosby said the computer at CEW was, in fact, online, I challenged him to put the Display Central homepage on the screen as an object. No problem, it was there almost as soon as I could give him the URL. As a bonus, he added the Display Central SMS feed as a second object.
Crosby said X2O did not just allow development of the software at the creative level, it allowed multiple layers of content approval before the developed content was published. One example he used was the large digital signage screen used to attract attention to the X2O booth. The image quality of some of the shoes shown on the screen was poor and he said the demo had originally been developed for a small point of sale (POS) screen, using shoe images appropriate for that size screen. He said limits could be put in the developed software to allow display only on certain type of screens. This would prevent, for example, screens targeting desktop displays from being shown on smartphones, where all the objects would be too small to be useful. The reverse could be done as well, to prevent interactive screens originally developed for smartphones or POS displays to be shown on digital signage-sized displays. – Matthew Brennesholtz