Inside Rensselaer
* Students Create Digital Signage System
The Concerto digital signage system was conceived of and created by a team of Rensselaer students.
Students Create Digital Signage System
In an effort to offer members of the Rensselaer campus community an innovative alternative to advertising upcoming events, announcements, and other messages, a team of Rensselaer students has created a free Web-based digital signage system named Concerto.

Since its launch in April 2008, more than 480 members of the Rensselaer campus community have logged on to submit messages that are displayed on screens across campus. The content submission system is simply a Web interface for uploading announcements and graphical content that is controlled by individuals who are most directly connected to a particular display. The screens pull from content categories (feeds) open to submission from members of the campus community.

“Welcome to campus advertising for the 21st century,” said Brian Zaik, a senior majoring in computer and systems engineering, and one of the system founders. “With the high costs and often limited appeal of traditional paper signs and banners that often flank campus thoroughfares, we wanted to offer members of the Rensselaer campus community an alternative to sharing information through the use of simple technology.”

To date, up to 15 high-resolution flat screen panels are on display in various areas of the Rensselaer campus, including the Rensselaer Union, the Center for Industrial Innovation, Pittsburgh Building, Union Bookstore, Mueller Center, Heffner Alumni House, Commons Dining Hall, Academy Hall, Russell Sage
Dining Hall, Russell Sage Laboratories, and the Career Development Center reception area, among others.

Since the system is designed, built, and managed by a team of 10 Rensselaer students, the only cost associated with obtaining the system is the hardware and installation, which can cost around $2,000 based on the location and television size, according to the team members.

“The system takes the concept of digital signage — displaying graphics and text and other information on flat-panel televisions and other electronic devices — to the next level,” said August Fietkau, a senior team member majoring in computer science and management. “This is a new way of encouraging campuswide communication that is immediately more accessible, collaborative, and effective.”

So, why is the system named Concerto? The term “Concerto” usually refers to a three-part musical work in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra. “In a musical sense, a concerto is a piece that highlights an instrument,” Zaik said. “It seemed very fitting that we would name our system Concerto because we see that, similar to the musical experience, there is value-added by having a whole orchestra of content for you to use.”

In the near future, the team is working on a plan to open source their software to and make it available to students at other college campuses, as well as on the World Wide Web for interactive screensavers, and perhaps mobile devices.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 17, October 17, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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