Powering Change In The Workplace | Why consumer tablets don't make great room screens

Why consumer tablets don't make great room screens

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Posted 03 December 2015 19:46:28 GMT | By Admin

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When talking with prospective clients who are interested in implementing a comprehensive resource scheduling solution, we sometimes get asked why they couldn't just buy iPads (or another consumer tablet) instead of digital signage specifically designed for conference rooms. 
 
The short answer is yes; iPads are definitely an option to consider when you're researching different solutions. But, before going down this route, there are critical factors to take into account. If a company is deciding to invest in room screens, it should consider the convenience & maintenance of the screens as well as future company needs. 

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Functional design conflict 

The iPad is not designed to be signage. It is designed to be highly interactive for a certain amount of time and then shut off/put to sleep - it's not designed to be on 24/7/365. Digital signage, on the other hand, is designed for specific interactions and most importantly, to be running all the time. The iPad's popular consumer-centric design also means there is a higher risk of it being stolen. 

Lack of integrated software

You will need a software interface or “App” on the iPad to manage room bookings. This software needs to be designed for tablet size touch screens and needs to sync with your calendaring system. Users should be able to walk up, select a time and book with a unique identifier easily and quickly. Additionally, you will want the software to display the current status of the room: whether it is occupied, about to be occupied or free as well as meeting details. 

Operational complexity

Consider the installation, support and upkeep of iPads:

  • Custom electric wiring for power as well internet access
  • Supporting and troubleshooting device failure 
  • Custom monitoring and maintenance software to perform updates, monitor statuses and resolve issues
  • Version control over the years (Apple has already discontinued the first 4 generations of iPads [1])
  • Security measures (Without proper security measures in place, someone could use the iPad for unintended purposes)

Additional drawbacks

  • Neither RFID card nor iBeacon authentication is possible as the iPad doesn’t have a built-in card or Bluetooth reader. This becomes a big barrier to adoption since it means users have to type their username and password each time they book a room on the screen.
  • Status Lights (red/amber/green) are not possible, so you can’t easily scan down a corridor and see which rooms are free or busy.

Digital signage should make room booking and management easier, but if the signage isn't designed for room booking and doesn't come with a centralized support & maintenance function it can easily make room management more burdensome. For some companies, iPads will make a simple, straightforward solution, but for others, the factors we mentioned are critical issues. Make sure the solution you choose addresses your needs. 

Sources

[1] Wikipedia: List of products discontinued by Apple Inc.

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