SMIL is an open standard established by the W3C with its initial intention to serve the IPTV industry. In 2009, a number of digital signage companies including hardware vendors IAdea, ViewSonic, Mitsubishi, Advantech and software makers Scala, signagelive, Dynamax and Screenfeed began shipping products based on this open standard.
Today SMIL has grown to become perhaps the most popular platform in digital signage and one that provides that much-needed interoperability between software and hardware systems.
SMIL stands for ‘Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language‘.
It is an XML-based mark-up language for describing playlists, schedules and screen layouts, which form the basic building blocks of a digital signage network.
Media files can include videos, pictures, background audio, and with recent technical advances, even dynamic presentations written in HTML, the content standard for the web.
These objects are then rolled into temporally sequential and parallel playlists, and can even be enclosed in priority-based ‘exclusive’ playlists suitable for interactive playback control.
SMIL further supports the use of XPath conditionals which allows each individual item to be ‘switched on or off’ based on player-specific metadata or real-world sensor input.
SMIL schedules allow re-occurrence patterns based on time of day, day of week, or weekly/monthly rules AND these rules can also be combined with file ‘pre-fetch’ commands to manage bandwidth usage – there’s a really good SMIL Tutorial here over on www.a-smil.org, Ed
Germany, United States, France, Denmark, and India are among the top countries who visited the ‘Advocacy for SMIL‘ site during 2011. The number of unique users was almost 15,000 originating from over 127 countries and visitor volume increased 60% from 2010 to 2011, and grew almost 10x from 2009, the first year the site was in existence.
One hardware vendor reports a shipment volume of nearly 20,000 units of SMIL-enabled digital signage devices in 2011. A software maker supporting SMIL has won three projects, each using more than 1,000 SMIL players in 2011 alone.
With its list of adopters continuing to grow and with some momentum behind it, SMIL is surely set to become the de facto choice of ever more digital signage integrators and solution providers?
And taking advantage of its recently added support for the HTML5 content format – touted as the ‘Flash killer’ Ed, it appears SMIL will continue to be a key technology for the digital signage industry at the very least.
About the Author
John C. Wang is co-founder and CEO of IAdea Corporation, a company providing open and reliable digital signage media appliances. IAdea was the first company to introduce a digital signage product supporting the SMIL standard. In 2012 IAdea will again change the industry by introducing the first SMIL media appliance supporting the HTML5 content standard.