Running a digital signage player securely requires more than just installing and selling media player software on a device. Discover how our garlic-launcher turns Android devices into a full-featured and secure media player.
How are Media Player designed?
Media players for digital signage perform two tasks. The playback of media in the form of playlists and the administration of the device. This includes, among other things:
While other vendors attempt to meet this tasks with one software, we decided to use two specialized software solutions for security reasons. A media player for playback and a tool that takes over hardware-related control tasks on the device and creates a secure environment.
Another advantage of this separation is that it makes it much easier to develop media player software that is platform-independent. All platform-dependent functions such as USB, updates and reboots are handled by a very lean and minimal software that also runs natively on the respective operating system. This is why the garlic-launcher was created as a launcher for the Android version of the garlic-player.
What capabilities offer a Digital Signage Launcher?
An Android launcher specific to digital signage contains a so-called watchdog timer, creates a secure user interface, provides a media player API and launches the media player automatically.
All this does the garlic-launcher!
The watchdog timer or watchdog for short describes a function for failure detection of a digital system. Watchdog timers exist both as hardware circuitry or as software.
Don't be fooled. No software works perfectly and error-free. The watchdog timer in the launcher therefore detects any crashes and restarts the media player within seconds.
Secure User Interface
Software crashes are relatively harmless problems. Hacks or other compromises are much worse. This is especially true for interactive systems. Just imagine if your sales terminal, ATM, or Public Info Display abruptly displays the Windows or Android interface? Besides the embarrassment, a random passerby with suitable knowledge and enough destructive energy can cause various damages.
The garlic-launcher protects against this scenario in the case of a serious malfunction. Only a technician with appropriate password knowledge may access the system manually.
Reboots, Installations, and Updates
Software maintenance includes updates. Digital signage hardware sometimes also requires additional apps. Usually, this doesn't take place on site for cost reasons, instead a user or user controls this in the Digital Signage CMS. Once the player receives the instructions, it forwards them to the Android launcher, which executes them.
The special feature here is that these processes run confirmation-free (silently). This means that there are no dialog boxes with prompts that require manual confirmation.
To offer the silent features mentioned above, stock Android players typically require rooting. Rooting means to get all access rights on the normally restricted Android. Among other things, this involves installing a program called su (superuser) on the device.
However, this implies a serious security risk because any piece of software, i.e., malicious, can access the superuser. The more elegant way means to build a defined interface with special authorization, which only certain programs are allowed to access.
With the so-called “Device Owner” Android offers this concept since version 7 and garlic-launcher uses this.
The advantage: a significantly increased device safety!
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an important function in high quality digital signage media players. For initial configuration you need to enter network access data, content URL and other parameters. A configuration with the USB stick facilitates this process significantly, especially with multiple devices.