In the process of looking for digital signage software this afternoon, I ran across this great hack using a keynote developed by Kendrick Erickson and Eric Perrino at the University of Minnesota. Essentially, they pulled info from the school’s database and used XSL to translate it and insert it into Keynote’s XML-based file format. They also used a mac mini to do the displaying, since, of course, Keynote runs only on the mac. Even geekier, Kendrick and Eric managed to turn the display on and off from the mini via serial and (presumably) a cron job.
I have often wondered why I haven’t seen more signage developed using OS X, since it’s superior display capabilities make it extremely well suited for this type of application. As Kendrick and Eric note:
Other benefits such as OS X’s BSD foundation made it easier to update slide content from Crimson and develop supporting software. We’ll also be able to expand the capabilities of the display framework later on by developing custom software using the Quartz 2D engine or OpenGL directly.
It is something we’re looking into.