With large screens used by many kiosks, it can be useful to set a default zoom level. This can be achieved with eCrisper by applying a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) that will be applied to every page loaded by the kiosk users.
1. Create a file using a text editor and name it defaultzoom.css, or any name you like as long as it has a .css extension.
2. Copy and paste the following code into the file:
Change 130 to whatever number suits you. Anything greater than 100 means zoom in; less than 100 means zoom out. Don’t forget the % percent sign!
3. In eCrisper, go to the Preferences window, under Layout. Each of the 5 webviews has a field called Style sheet. Click on the checkbox and select the location of the .css file you created.
A css file is included in eCrisper and set as default for the central webview. To activate it you simply have to click on the checkbox beside Style sheet.
Mac OS X keeps preferences in Property List files or .plist files. For eCrisper, the file is com.eCrisper.plist located in ~/Library/Preferences. The ~ refers to your home folder therefore /Library/Preferences is a path starting from the home folder.
Digital signage and kiosks can be merged into one powerful tool for high schools and colleges. Using a Mac mini with a large touch screen display (with either horizontal or vertical orientation), kiosk software such as eCrisper can be used to display news and information:
- Daily activities
- Calendar (for example using Google calendar)
- Sport schedules and recent results
- Campus news
- General announcements
- Campus map
- Weather forecast
Since eCrisper can divide the screen into 5 areas, each with its own web display, some of the information can be visible all the time.
For example, you could use the left side to display the day’s activities, the right side for sports results, and the bottom portion for a scrolling banner displaying major news and announcements.
The main web browser (middle area) could be used to display a web page with large navigation buttons pointing to the school website, the campus map, etc… You can also combine buttons (up to 20 on each side) with web content. Or you can simply use eCrisper as one full screen web browser.
Using a Mac mini with a Large screen HDTV is a great solution for kiosks. The new Mac mini is easy to connect to an HDTV using the new built-in HDMI port. And with products from NextWindow, you can easily turn most large plasma or LCD into an interactive touch screen.
It is also possible to rotate the screen 90 degrees and eCrisper will adjust to the new screen orientation.
Combined with kiosk software such as eCrisper, you can give your customers access to your website on a large screen. This should work well for museums, art galleries, or any public access information terminals.
Although eCrisper was not designed specifically for digital signage, it might be a great option to be able to display up to 5 web pages on one screen.
As for securing the Mac mini, one option can be seen at http://www.tryten.com/Apple-Mac-Security-Locks/Mac-Mini-Enclosure .
Specifically, kiosk software protects the application by blocking users from reaching the operating system or desktop. This prohibits users from changing systems settings or overwriting files stored locally.
A web based kiosk can be used to provide access to a specific website while blocking access to the rest of the web. It can also provide access to the entire web with or without a content filter to protect children.
Some applications include:
- Hotel lobbies
- Museum information kiosks
- Public Internet banking
- School and colleges
- City information terminals
- Internet cafes
- Library computers
- Waiting rooms – hospital, dentist, etc…
- Retail stores with online catalog
- Car dealership showroom
eCrisper is created specifically for Mac using the Cocoa frameworks, the same way Mac OS X itself is created. Much of Cocoa is implemented in Objective-C, an object-oriented language that is compiled to run at incredible speed.
The actual set of tools used is the Xcode developer tools package. Xcode is a very productive development platform, better than anything I have ever used under MS Window.
How can eCrisper display all the new web content including HTML5? It uses WebKit, the world’s most advanced web browser engine. WebKit is a Cocoa framework so software developers can easily integrate web browsing into their applications.
Since the web content is kept behind other objects such as the title for the top area or buttons for the side and bottom areas, web content can be used to display a simple background.
For example, if you want to add a yellow backgroung to the top area, create an html file stored locally on the drive or on a web server with the following code:
I created such a file and uploaded it as http://ecrisper.com/yellow.htm. If you specify this value for webview URL, it will display a yellow background.
Of course “yellow” can be replaced by any color (most likely an Hex value).
For an easy way to get the Hex value for a color, go to http://www.ficml.org/jemimap/style/color/wheel.html
When you add the URL value for the webview, one quick way to see the result right away is to uncheck then re-check the Display webview checkbox.
One such web application is Google Docs. Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google. It is compatible with formats such as MS Word, OpenOffice, and RTF.
Another option is offered by Microsoft. Office Web Apps are free web-based version of Microsoft’s Office productivity suite. It includes the web-based versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft OneNote.
The web apps allow users to access their documents directly from anywhere within a web browser as well as share files and collaborate with other users online.
Powered by WebKit, the world’s fastest and most advanced browser engine, eCrisper supports the latest web standards including HTML5 and CSS3. These standards allow web designers and developers to create advanced graphics, typography, animations, and transitions.
The new HTML5 audio and video elements make it easy for developers to deliver rich, interactive media experiences natively within the browser, without the need for proprietary technologies.
This is great news for users of eCrisper because web developers can really bring their interactive kiosks to life.
Apple put together a nice showcase of some of the features: http://apple.com/html5
This is a great way to put eCrisper to the test or any other kiosk software.
The story started when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started a company called Apple Computer in their garage. The company grew rapidly so they hired an experienced executive named John Sculley to be its CEO. In 1985, Steve Jobs was moved to a position in which he had no control over the company at all. Within weeks, he had come up with an idea for a startup and left to form another computer company called NeXT Computer.
The idea was to create the perfect research computer for universities and research labs. NeXT hired a small team of brilliant engineers and developed a computer, an operating system, a printer, a factory, and a set of development tools. Each piece was years ahead of competing technologies including the use of Unix as the core of the operating system. The first NeXT computer was unveiled in 1988. There was a lot of amazement and excitement.
Unfortunately, the masses did not buy either the computer or the printer, and in 1993 the factory was closed. NeXT Computer became NeXT Software, and the operating system and the development tools continued to sell under the name NeXTSTEP.
Although the average computer user had never heard of NeXSTEP, it was very popular with scientists, investment banks, and intelligence agencies. Tim Berners-Lee developed the first Web browser and the first Web server on NeXTSTEP. The NeXTSTEP operating system was eventually ported to most of the popular CPUs of the day including Intel and Motorola. Oddly enough, it did not run on a Mac.
For many years, Apple had been desperately seeking to create an operating system to compete with Microsoft. They actually wanted to beat Windows 95 to market but failed. The project of creating a new operating system got out of control and Apple finally decided to pull the plug and buy the next version of Mac OS from another company. After looking at the existing operating systems, Apple selected NeXTSTEP and simply bought the whole company in February 1997. Steve Jobs became the interim CEO of Apple on September 16, 1997 and NeXTSTEP became Mac OS X.