Chrome Sign Builder – Poor Man’s Digital Signage
I’ve been looking for an easy to use, free (or low cost) digital signage solution since forever. Back in the Le Grand days, Danny Silva hacked together AppleTVs and iTunes to create digital signage for our school. For the past several months, I’ve been playing with RiseVision and chromeboxes. I had it to the point of being able to display a RiseVision template but found trying to get the content into the template frustrating. Friday I did a search for “Chromebox digital signage” and found Google Sign Builder! Sign Builder is an App for Chrome devices that can display URLs and Youtube Videos and best of all, it’s all controlled through the Admin panel. There is a Schedule app that creates a txt file with the schedule and resources defined which is then uploaded through the admin panel and pushed to the chromeboxes that have the Sign app installed.
It’s very slick and easy. I was able to get everything setup in less than a hour of fiddling and had a Google Sheet auto-looping in about 5 minutes. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the Schedule Builder app, because it didn’t show up in the Chrome Web Store. Simon Miller (@LeadEdTech) got ahead of me by adding a YouTube video to his schedule and is now playing with the refresh. I’ll be experimenting with that on Monday.
So far, it looks like this is the solution I’ve been looking for. A shared Google Sheet per site will allow users to easily update their own content. If we need to push a district notice, it’s as easy as updating the schedule for each Sub Org (assuming policy refresh works). I can’t wait to play some more on Monday.
Here’s how I got started:
- Setup a Device Sub Org and put your Chromebox into it. I called ours Kiosk. I plan to create a Kiosk Sub Org for each site. The schedule, and therefore the content displayed on the screen, is applied at the Sub Org level.
- Deploy Chrome Sign Builder as an Auto-Launch Kiosk app for your Kiosk Device Sub Org.
- Create and Publish a Google Sheet. I created a Kiosk User that I can use to create sheets with and then share out to each site/department.
- Build and Upload a Schedule. You’ll need this link to get the Scheduling App since it doesn’t show up in the Chrome Web Store yet.
- Reboot your Chromebox to force the policy to take effect (I was too impatient to wait on policy refresh)