1. What is the key functionality of MaestroWare" software?
MaestroWare" is an innovative, scalable and integrated complete software solution -- for the professional design, wireless transmission and real-time management of dynamic screen display and advertising content -- across a single retail store or entire retail chain. MaestroWare" compliments existing retail signage operations with an intuitive Windows interface that supports the management workflow from end to end:
Data Dictionary: Provides quick and easy access to data in existing retail databases, enabling rapid implementation and ROI.
Sign Manager: Supports sign group assignment & management according to any retail hierarchy including regions, districts, market clusters and single stores.
Sign Editor: Supports multi-media sign design & editing of content.
ß Promo Planner: Enables pre-planning of promotional season broadcasts by date & time for years in advance.
Sign Scheduler: Supports scheduling of display content network-wide from minutes to years in advance based on retail requirements such as promotional plans, sales, events, price changes, etc.
Management Tools: Supports system administration at any level from corporate office to a single store's backroom with alerts, system status monitors and a reporting tool interfaced with Crystal Reports.
2. What types of display technology can be controlled on a MaestroWare" network?
MaestroWare" provides flexible control of leading retail display technologies including LCDs, gas plasma screens, touch screens, TV/VCR's, video monitors and displays made with SmartPaper". Any or all of these technologies can be networked together using MaestroWare" to provide a complete dynamic messaging solution for retail environments.
3. How can displays be changed using MaestroWare"?
Messages displayed on LCD or gas plasma screens can be easily changed using any popular HTML editor interfaced with MaestroWare". These messages can include motion video clips as well as text and digits. Messages on displays made with SmartPaper" can be easily changed using the SmartPaper" Editor Template within MaestroWare". All messages are easily transmitted to select networked displays using wireless RF technology.
4. How does the system know where signs are located, and can they be moved?
Displays networked together using MaestroWare" are assigned unique addresses to receive wireless RF transmissions individually. This enables each display to be updated in real-time based on retail requirements such as price updates, on-sale percentages, advertising content, etc. Since the MaestroSign" network operates by wireless RF technology, displays can be moved anywhere within the retail environment without disrupting the dynamic transmission of content. MaestroWare"'s interface with AutoCAD also enables Store Planners to visualize both the specific location of displays within retail environments and highlighted category performance data related to dynamic messaging.
5. What is the RF standard for wireless transmission?
MaestroWare" uses the standard TCP/IP protocol, which runs over many networks including the ethernet and 802.11 RF wireless networks. The Maestro Sign" system can be configured to interface transparently with proprietary RF networks.
6. What are the minimum hardware requirements to support the MaestroSign" System?
Minimum hardware requirements are as simple as one PC (500 MHz) with 128M to serve as a base station controller and one base station which connects to the PC's RS232 port in order to control up to 200 SmartPaper" signs and/or LCD or gas plasma displays.
7. Which operating systems are supported?
MaestroWare" runs on Windows 98, 2000 and NT platforms. It also will run on Windows CE as a client only.
8. Which databases are supported?
MaestroWare" operates with Oracle, SQL Server, Informix and any OBDC-compliant databases.
9. Which HTML editors are supported?
MaestroWare" supports FrontPage, HotMetal, ColdFusion and other popular HTML editors.
10. Is the MaestroWare" software able to track and audit messaging content?
MaestroWare" supports full 2-way communications and can track what messages were displayed on which signs and for what duration. This information is then easily captured in management reports to enable the innovative collection of new co-op advertising revenue.
11. How scalable is the MaestroSign" System?
MaestroWare" software is fully scalable from the control of a few signs in a single store to many thousands of displays across an entire retail chain.
12. What system security controls are included in MaestroWare" software?
MaestroWare" uses 128-bit encryption in its wireless network, and also supports any security measures employed by network administrators including password protections and user-level authorizations.
13. How much training does MaestroWare" require?
MaestroWare" is simple to use with an intuitive interface that requires minimal time to master, ensuring rapid deployment and return on investment. Training options include CD-ROM tutorials and on-site user team development as part of the implementation program.
14. When will MaestroWare" be available?
MaestroWare" is currently available on a limited basis for initial customers along with several innovative hardware products including SmartScan and a range of signs using SmartPaper" technology. It is available to order now, with initial delivery and installations scheduled for 3rd and 4th quarters this year.
15. Who invented MaestroWare"?
MaestroWare" was initially developed by Chuck O'Connell, Director of Software Development of Gyricon Media, Inc.
16. How does SmartPaper" compare to E-Ink?
Gyricon technology uses an array of tiny (100 micron diameter or smaller) solid beads with one hemisphere of each bead one color e.g. white and the other a different color e.g. black. These beads are embedded in a flexible plastic sheet in small cavities surrounded by a liquid. Each bead carries an electrical charge. When an external electric field is applied the bead rotates or "gyrates" (hence the name Gyricon). Adhesive forces between the bead and the cavity wall require an electrical threshold to be exceeded before it will rotate.
The E-Ink process is based on electrophoresis and uses similar size beads also embedded in a flexible plastic sheet that encapsulate liquid containing dyes and pigmented particles. The particles acquire an electrical charge from interaction with the liquid. When an electric field is applied, the dye and pigmented particles are attracted to opposite ends of the inside of the bead.
17. What happens to displays controlled with MaestroWare" during a power failure?
Messages displayed on signs made with SmartPaper" technology are stable and retain their images indefinitely until "erased " by a new transmission. Signs made with SmartPaper" technology also are battery operated and thus not subject to AC power failures. Messages displayed on other multimedia technology such as LCD and gas plasma screens will be interrupted unless protected by an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or other supplemental energy system. Enterprise-level message broadcasts using MaestroWare" should be protected in the same manner as other enterprise IT functionality by standard Disaster Recovery contingency measures.
18. What technical support is provided by MaestroSign" Systems?
MaestroSign" Systems provides a full range of professional services including retail environment evaluation, enterprise-wide system implementation, call center support and e-mail support.
19. What are the security issues with RF technology?
There are no significant security issues other than ensuring adequacy of signals within the local retail environment. RF transmissions are broadcast locally in-store with a limited reach. This virtually eliminates the concern of outside interception or interference. Base stations properly located throughout the store will also support RF transmissions with minimal inside interference. As part of the standard implementation agreement, GYRICON MEDIA's, Inc. professional services team will design store-specific configurations including base station placement, antenna heights, etc. to ensure optimal performance of the Maestro Sign" System.