iPad based Conference Room Schedule Displays

We’ve rolled out two new room schedule displays outside MacLean 001 and MacLean 210.
iPad based Room Schedule Display

This is the fourth generation of hardware we’ve experimented with. Around four or five years ago, we started out with iPod Touches in custom made cases. They proved unreliable, so we moved to Linux based resistive touch screens. These took some work to get stable and are painfully slow. They’ve been working reasonably well, but we wanted to try something a little more modern and capable. The latest round uses an iPad and wall-mount enclosure made by nClosures Inc. We are still pulling data from R25 and creating a custom interface using HTML. We are using Kiosk Pro Plus as the kiosk app that displays the web page in full screen mode. If we had access to our schedule data with a standard calendar protocol, we might have used an off-the-shelf app like EventBoard.

iOS has made some simple improvements such as support for synchronizing time via NTP and locking screen rotation. However, there are still several limitations that may prevent us from deploying iOS devices widely. Remote management is still challenging or impossible.
Screenshot of the room schedule
Things that still are sub-optimal include:

  • no automatic or remote rebooting
  • can’t start an app upon power on
  • can’t turn off or dim the display
  • doesn’t always auto reconnect to wireless if the network is unavailable

We now have a Google Nexus 7 in the office. This has the advantage of being a great size and significantly cheaper than an iPad. Hopefully wall-mount enclosures for the Nexus 7 will come out soon (Armor Active has announced one coming soon).