Digital Signage at the Phelps Memorial Hospital Center

When I first read about Pi Presents, I knew Ken Thompson was creating a winning application.  I work in a hospital with many waiting rooms, where patients and visitors wait for periods of time until they are seen and processed.  In all of the waiting rooms, there is a slim 42inch TV, each with one or more hdmi inputs.  As I read about what Ken was putting into his product, I realized that the Raspberry Pi and Pi Presents could be used to provide electronic signage displays which could promote the hospital and its affiliated practices.  The hospital could market to its patients and visitors while they waited.  By providing information about the services and practices associated with the hospital, the hospital could build confidence and interest in the patients and visitors.

I found the Pi Presents editor really easy to work with and, within a matter of minutes, I had an endless presentation up and running on my Pi, displayed on a 52 inch TV.  The display was gorgeous. I went to the internet and searched for information about my hospital.  I found a number of good images and a wonderful five minute video about a new residency program we had recently created.  These, I figured, would be excellent in preparing some material to explain how to use the Raspberry Pi and Pi Presents.

My initial task was to convince the hospital to back my project idea and install Pi’s and a presentation in every waiting room.  I created a ten minute endless loop presentation, trying to convince the hospital of the benefits of using this approach. I put the 40 inch screen on a movable cart and place it right across from the elevator on the floor where there is the board room, class rooms, and entrance to the auditorium.

The presentation starts with a picture of the hospital and background music starts.  I used Dave Brubeck’s Take Five as background music. I used the new Control Track in [pipresents-next] to start the music. I found that when music is playing over a slide or a message, the slide can be presented for a longer interval than if played without music.  The music changes the attention span of someone watching the presentation.

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I then had several slides introducing Pi Presents and the Raspberry Pi, two of which are shown here.

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I found a five minute donor thank you video on the internet which talked about our new family medicine residency program.  I downloaded and converted it to an MKT file and showed it as a part of the presentation.  Just before starting the video, I stopped the audio with a control track.  Here are a couple of images from the video:

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After the video ended I started the music again, showed a few slides, even a slide of the Raspberry Pi:

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A few wrap up slides and finally a slide with our current hospital slogan.

pic7I set the repeat interval to 0 to start the presentation over as quickly as possible.

I have the Pi set up to start Pi Presents when it boots, so in the morning, I simply turn on the TV and the Pi.  Like the Energizer Bunny, it just runs and runs and runs.

I ran the presentation endlessly for about a month.  People loved it.  They watched the video with sincere interest.  They picked up and looked at the Raspberry Pi.  On a couple of days when I did not run it, people asked me where my Pi was.

Getting the executives on board took a very long time.  We are in an expansion building situation and the management hardly has time for anything but meetings on that.  However, they have finally agreed to using the Pi in our waiting rooms and our marketing department will soon get involved in planning and executing the plan.

Ken Thompson is a true professional in the computer world.  He has demonstrated patience, tolerance, perseverance and brilliance in his creation of Pi Presents.  I badgered him and badgered him over some issues I felt were important.  He listened carefully and thoughtfully and eventually came up with fixes and enhancements which I think have turned the product into a totally professional product.  I look forward to its constant meaningful expansion.

And as of now, I have only scratched the surface of what I think can be done with Pi Presents.

I do a lot of my work on a PC and I have discovered some really good tools that can help bring a Pi Presents presentation to life.

  • AVS4YOU.com produces a suite of programs for just $59 lifetime subscription.  The suite includes video recorders, editors, converters, image and sound editors, etc. 12 program in all, I think.  I used the video editor to cut out the end of the video I downloaded from the internet, and I used the video converter to convert it to the correct type for Pi Presents.
  • I use x11vnc on the Pi to send my Raspberry Pi screen to ultraliteVNC viewer on my PC so that I can run the Pi Presents Editor.
  • I found WinSCP to be an outstanding file management program.  It allows full control of uploading and downloading of files to and from the Pi in a windows environment. It is available at http://winscp.net/eng/download.php
  • I use Putty to connect to the SSH port on my Pi.

It all works very nicely.  I can edit and create the presentations on the Windows platform and then move them to the Pi and test and fix them on the Pi.  Finally, I can copy the presentations back to Windows for safe keeping.

I am most appreciative of Ken’s work.  As a part of the plan to use them in the hospital I am going to demand a donation to his Museum in recognition of his fine work.

2 Responses to Digital Signage at the Phelps Memorial Hospital Center

  1. David Guest says:

    With gapless, we are going to put all of our pi’s on our intranet and then try using liveshow with the liveshow directory on a shared folder on a server….

  2. Rick says:

    Great info…very impressive. Do you replace content remotely? If not, is it possible with remote access software? Thanks for a great description of your work with this very capable software.

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