The students at the University of LaVerne have done something amazing - they created a class to provide a simple, affordable signage solution. The project began last year when a library student (Chris) identified a problem finding an affordable solution to post messages. The university was using Fourwinds Interactive and the cost to add another player was over $6,000, making digital signage cost prohibitive for the library.
After some research Chris experimented with a Raspberry PI- a low cost (less than $100), credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and loaded it with the free, open-source content management from Rise Vision.
The University then brought together SIGMAnet and its business/ computer science majors to form a practicum courses for the School of Business centered around digital signage. This class took Chris’s partially developed project, finished it, and created a business around it.
At the beginning of the semester the class positioned pilots in the library and a popular restaurant off campus to validate their signage experiment. Now they are finalizing their value proposition and speaking with other departments on campus and local business partners to cultivate interest for their product. The students are aggressively working towards the end goal of securing financial backing to further expand the offering.
The class itself was only supposed to be one semester, but the momentum and interest has solidified the class for future semesters. The participating students come from a wide range of backgrounds, from computer science to business majors, but share one common goal - providing affordable signage.
“The key benefit is we get to work in a professional, real world setting for developing new products and structuring the business around it,” commented a student. Another added, “Being able to work at SIGMAnet instead of in the classrooms has provided us valuable experience that prepares us for the transition from a backpack to a briefcase.”
The class participated in a local Maker-Faire and tied for first place and have set their goal to have 10 displays installed and operational by the end of the semester.