New Touch Screen system

Our Department is located on two separate floors (4 and 5) in the ICT building. There’s a room map on each floor. This map contains only room numbers and no person names.  See Fig 1.

display1

Fig 1. Room map for the 5:th floor (and some updated touch info Smile )

The problem with this map is that you only have a room number and no idea what person (name) you are looking for.

In the past we’ve had a printed A4 paper next to this room map which included both person name and room number (fig 2 below). Whenever the personnel (list) changed on our webpage, “the system” printed a new paper. This was done automatically by a script in our CMS (Department webpage). The personnel listing includes BOTH room number and person name. The negative side of this system is that someone has to (manually) replace the piece of paper in the corridor every now and then. It tends to be forgotten…

display4

Fig 2. Old school

Anyways, we decided to enter the touch screen area and try out an electronic version of this map with both room numbers and person names. Actually this new system includes more than just room numbers and person names. It includes all the details about a person that is available on the Departments homepage (a picture, an e-mail address and a phone number). We also have a “You are here”-sign and a red dot which mark the persons room location on the map (see Fig 5). As we already have this listing electronically on our webpage, only some small tweaks were needed for the touch layout. Thanks to my colleague for the html / coding part 🙂 Now let’s look the project in more detail.

 

Hardware:

Acer 5600 U, All in One PC.

We had a look at many different brands and models, and this one had the looks. It was also one of the wall mountable models and the price was right. We decided to go with the cheapest model of the 5600 series because even those deliver good performance. We bought one for the fourth floor and one for the fifth floor.

http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/DQ.SNPAA.001 

 

Software/tweaks:

  • Windows 8 originally
  • Replaced it with our Windows 7 image (no need for Windows 8 in our case)
  • Tweaked the OS a little bit:
    • Added a local user named “kiosk”. This user logs on automatically when the computer starts (Sysinternals Autologon).
    • Internet Explorer runs at system startup. It runs in “kiosk mode”.
      • This is our main “touch interface”. It’s basically a webpage in full screen.
      • iexplore.exe -k www.yourwebpage.com
    • Disabled some touch functions, for example right click in Internet Explorer. Also disabled pinch zoom.
    • Disabled Bluetooth
    • Disabled USB ports
    • Disabled Wireless interface
    • Changed Power Options/Choose what the power buttons do to “Nothing”. (No accidental power off when people are messing around…)
    • Installed TightVNC Server for easier remote access
    • Enabled Concurrent Sessions so you can RDP into the machine without disrupting the current (kiosk) user http://www.missingremote.com/guide/how-enable-concurrent-sessions-windows-7-service-pack-1-rtm
    • Monitor should switch off during the night and switch on automatically in the morning. (Now done, see Fig 3.)
  • Keyboard and mouse are stored in my room Smile

powersaving

Fig 3. Computer sleep/wake

Steps for sleep/wake:

  • Create two new power plans (Control panel/Power options/Create a power plan):
    • For example “Monitor Always ON” (balanced with Turn off the display and Put the computer to sleep both set at never
    • For example “Monitor OFF” (balanced with Turn off the display put to never and Put the computer to sleep set to 1 minute
  • Use Task Scheduler  to activate the power plans according to your needs. My computer goes to sleep every day at 19.00 and wakes up at 07.15 in the morning (See Fig 3).
    • Use powercfg –list to list existing power schemes
    • Use powercfg -setactive <GUID> to set your default scheme
  • Fig 3 shows my schedules. I have one called “Monitor OFF” and one called “Monitor ON”. They use powercfg –setactive <GUID> to switch between the two schemes.
  • Works as it should… almost. I noticed that the monitor/computer wasn’t switched on in the morning.
  • Had a look at the system logs in Event Viewer. Lots of stuff with source from “Power-Troubleshooter”. Further investigation shows:
    • Sleep Time: ‎2013‎-‎09‎-‎02T02:00:59.919249500Z
      Wake Time: ‎2013‎-‎09‎-‎02T03:06:58.670908100Z

      Wake Source: Device -Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller

    • Apparently the computer woke up every now and then without me even knowing it. I did some googling and this has to do with the power options of the network card itself. Long story short: have a look at the “only allow magic packet to wake the computer” (Fig 4. below)

Allow this device to wake the computer

           Fig 4. Power Management options for the network adapter

  • In my case, the “only allow a magic packet to wake the computer” was unchecked, which caused the computer to wake up with almost every sent Ethernet packet out there. Not good. Source: http://windows7-issues.blogspot.fi/2011/03/wake-on-lan-wol-for-windows-7-made-easy.html
  • The Monitor OFF sleep schedule works fine. However, the computer didn’t wake up at 07.15. Well, powercfg can’t run if the computer is sleeping, right?
  • Solution: Put a tick in “only allow a magic packet to wake the computer” and have another computer send a “magic packet” to wake this computer.
  • Installed Wake on Lan Command Line utility on on of our servers which sends a wake-up call in the morning.
    • Made a batch file which included two lines to wake up both our touch screen computers (example in the url above)
    • Had our server run a scheduled task with the batch file at 07.14.30. This made the touch screen computers wake up 30 seconds before they changed their power profile to “Always ON”.
  • I now feel like MacGyver but at least it’s working 🙂

Source: http://superuser.com/questions/226974/forcing-windows-to-be-awake-during-certain-hours

So far so good. Seems “secure enough”, no complains either (one week has passed). I probably forgot to add something to the list above though…

 

System in action

Below are some pictures showing the the system in action. Sorry for the crappy quality.

display3 vs. display4

Fig 5. New vs. old. Which one do you prefer? Smile

As you can see below, there’s also a  bit more information available on the start page than just the personnel listing. This is mostly to fill up the page with other (useful) stuff when not displaying a room map. When you click (or perhaps I should say “touch”) a person on the list, the layout will look like the one in Fig 5 above.

 

display2

Fig 6. Main page

The main page (Fig 6) is by default displaying some of the Departments projects and todays lunch in our restaurant. None of the elements (to the right) are clickable as this would open up a new browser window and so on. We only wanted the personnel listing clickable (at least for now) so we try to keep it as tidy as possible. You can use the QR codes to retrieve the information for your mobile phone however.

This is just one way of using the touch screen pc. We’re currently open to new ideas and we are already trying to figure out what we could do with the embedded webcam Smile

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