Intel’s Open Pluggable Specification is one of the most simply named specs you find. It means that if a plug and a slot support OPS they will fit. It’s as simple as that. OPS has found a home in the world of digital signage, where displays meet media players.
Many all-in-one digital signage installations need only cabling to provide power or networking. Other solutions consist of a display and a local computer, which acts as a “player” for locally stored content or to help process network content to one or more displays (such as a video wall), or some other local device.
Historically, these “players” needed their own power, network and other cables, and, if they could not mount on the back of the display, their own mounting. For wall-mounted signage, this meant more rear space, more install time and possibly more ventilation — all translating to additional costs. For freestanding signage, this meant a visible box and dangling cables, looking distracting and inelegant at best, and a temptation to touch and perhaps break by passers-by.
One solution for many of these scenarios comes from the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), which defines a standard size, shape and interface for slots, and for “slot-loaded” accessories to be put into these slots. This is in particular for (but not limited to) small-form-factor computer “players” that are part of a digital signage installation. OPS is widely in use.
“We’ve installed three to four hundred digital signage displays that have OPS slots, with OPS-compliant computers in those slots, at several of our airport customers,” says Brandy Bailey, Software Support Integration Manager, Com-Net Software. Com-Net is a leading installer of flight information and other information displays and has as such has single-handedly provided a lot of testing of OPS.
Announced at the October 2010 Digital Signage Expo, the OPS was issued by Intel, with support by digital signage industry leaders including Microsoft, NEC Display Solutions and the Taiwan Digital Signage Special Interest Group.
The purposes of the OPS include simplifying installation, use, upgrading and maintenance of these computers and other accessories. An OPS-compliant device will install easily, and when on-site servicing, replacement or upgrade is required, a technician just needs to be able to reach up, release the securing mechanisms and slide the PC out of its slot.
“Previously, if you were going to include a computer with a display, you had to worry where you were going to put it,” says Bailey. “For example, would you have to try and mount it in the ceiling, or in a mounting device, or use video extenders and put it in a nearby room. OPS means we can put displays in places that weren’t previously possible, like hanging displays above airport baggage claim areas.”
In addition to the convenience, Com-Net finds using OPS reduces installation costs, Bailey adds. “You don’t have to buy additional mounting hardware, worry about additional