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The New Eco-friendly Advertising Tool Which Gives an Alternative Real-Time Outdoor Advertising Media for SMEs

Final Report Summary - ECOBOARD (The New Eco-friendly Advertising Tool Which Gives an Alternative Real-Time Outdoor Advertising Media for SMEs)

Executive summary:

The aim ECOBOARD is to produce a cost effective and environmentally friendly Real-time Outdoor Media tool which can give the same visual effect as a paper based billboard, but without the use of paper, ink, and glue which pollute our world. Furthermore, the proposed system would increase the competitiveness of SMEs within the advertising industry by reducing the time and the cost of advert implementation (no need to print).

Project Context and Objectives:

Giant posters and billboards are a major advertising tool which is used all over the world as well as Europe. While this type of advertising industry is mainly operated by SMEs, the paper and ink manufacturers are usually large multinationals who govern the prices of the commodities, putting pressure on SMEs. In Europe alone there are between 2 and 8 million billboards displayed at any given time and this number is constantly growing. The standard billboard dimensions are approximately 2 metres by 3 metres, giving an area of nearly 6 square metres. The marketing strategy for billboard advertising is usually 4 week cycles, but the trend is changing, and more and more businesses opt for 2 week cycles, or even less. This means that every 2 weeks, over six million square metres of poster is thrown out. In most cases, due to cutting cost, the paper is not recycled, the ink is not eco friendly, and the glue used is toxic. In addition, these components are combined and they cannot be separated easily. Due to this, billboard advertising has a disastrous affect on the environment, and this issue needs to be addressed.

Project Results:

Work package 1 "System Specifications"
The objective of this WP was to expand on the initial market research and gain information of the existing components and foils that can be used in ECOBOARD in order aid the system specification.

The questionnaire was sent to approximately 3700 companies using the across Europe involved in the advertising industry using the networks of media SMEs, TRUCK, BCE and IMPACT as well as the contacts of other partners' and databases. This task also served as the platform to identify the target audience that will be used for exploitation activities.

Based on the results of the market research and the commercially available components that can affect the final design, the full system specification was produced. The system specification includes ergonomic, environmental, and economic issues as well as technical parameters.

Work package 1 summary
The outcome of this work package was Deliverable 1.1 which provides the results of the market research and conclusions of the need of the interested media companies across which was the basis of the system specification. The work package finished at Month 3 in the first period and was fully reported in the first period.

Work package 2 "Mechanical Development of Pixel Module"
The objective of this work package was to develop the mechanical parts of the board structure taking into consideration the system specification as well as all the electrical and other components that were integrated later.
Each pixel contained foils that can be wound individually in order to display the required colour with the right brightness and saturation. The pixels were very small (8 mm by 8 mm) so the main aim was to ensure that the components fit together perfectly and that there is no interference that could damage the foils. The design took ease of manufacture into consideration due to the large number of pixels that were included in the board.
Work package 2 summary
This work package consisted of five tasks and was started during the first period at Month 4. Three tasks were completed in the first period and were reported accordingly. These tasks included the pixel design, the board design and the integrated design. The two tasks that were completed in the second period included the mechanical integration and the development of the ECODRIVE.

During the development of the Description of Work a promising concept was presented and to achieve it the proposed work plan was followed. These different development stages revealed that certain modifications are necessary to the original design to achieve the best combination of quality, cost and ease of manufacture as well as to ensure reliability. These modifications are explained here in order to justify the deviation from the original proposal.

Specific objectives for this deliverable were specified in the Description of Work which includes the following:
-To develop a single 8 mm x 8 mm pixel that includes a rolling mechanism to rotate the three foils independently and smoothly. The pixels will be mass-produced, so simplicity and cost will need to be taken into consideration.
Was achieved but only 1 foil was needed
-To produce an ECOBOARD module with 30 x 30 pixels, including an independent automated setup mechanism to change the colour. Each module will have a mobile electric motor that can move on an X-Y axis (similar to an X-Y positioning table) at the back of the board and come in contact with the rollers of the pixels one by one to position the foils.
Was achieved with a module consisting of 120 by 60 pixels and with 120 stepper motors moving in the Y axis in two layers.
-To design interlocking ECOBOARD modules that can be used to build any shaped or sized boards.
Was achieved

Task 2.1 Pixel Mechanics Design
The concept development was carried out over a period of 8 months and it involved a number of different approaches. The task was completed by Month 11 and the development was reported. Minimal modifications to the pixel design were done for the final integration. These modifications will be described under Task 2.4.
Task 2.2 Board Structure Design
The board structure design involved the assembly of the pixel layers into a module to allow the assembly of the modules into a complete board during integration. The task was also completed by Month 11 and the development was reported in Deliverable 2.1 and in the first periodic report. Minimal modifications to the board structure design were done for the final integration, which will be described under Task 2.4.
Task 2.3 Mechanical System Integration
The objective of this task was to integrate the complete board structure design and to predict the final cost of ECOBOARD in order to help decide on the go / no go decision point which was made at M12. This task included all the components that make up ECOBOARD both in terms of mechanical and electrical parts.
The task was completed by Month 12 and the development was reported in Deliverable 2.2 and in the first periodic report.
Task 2.4 Mechanical Structure Development of the Beta Prototype
The aim of this task is to manufacture the final concept and build up a beta prototype. This task started at Month 12 and was due to be completed at Month 15. Due to the delivery delay of the components the duration of this task was extended until Month 23. Unfortunately there was some further delay with the arrival of the final parts and the mechanical integration and the corresponding Deliverable (2.3) was completed at the end of the project.


The following components were needed for the mechanical prototype assembly:
The foil is a very important part of ECOBOARD. This is the visible part that displays the image. It has to contain 64 colours and at the same time has to be elastic ensuring that the foil does not slip.

A lot of research went into finding the most suitable foil with the coordination of SCREEN. There were a lot of challenges to tackle.
1.The foil has to be thin, under 300 microns
2.The foil has to be elastic so it can remain tensioned at all times avoiding slippage
3.The joining of the foil has to be strong and smooth to avoid problems during rotation
4.The 64 colours have to be printed on it

The required specification of the foul was calculated and the manufacturing techniques were reviewed. SCREEN has the capacity to manufacture and print on foils with 75 micron thickness, but these foils are not elastic and extremely difficult to join in a loop. Therefore external companies were contacted that are capable of producing elastic foils. Tanals, a French company was found who have worked with SCREEN in the past allowing easy communication. The original plan was to use 150 micron thick foil and a sample was presented at to the partners at the review meeting in black colour. Unfortunately it was not possible to print on it so a different type of foil and manufacturing methodology had to be found which caused a lot of delay in the delivery of the foils.

To produce the looped elastic foil Tanals suggested producing 0.5 mm thick foil which SCREEN printed the colours on. This was tested and worked. The foil after was sent back to Tanals who looped it and thinned the foil out to under 0.3 mm thickness. The results were disappointing and a lot of scrap was produced. Tanals realised that they would achieve better results if they would start with a 1 mm thick foil.

SCREEN had to change the technology and carry out further tests to be able to print on this new thickness. The tests were carried out and the new delivery deadline given was the 15th of January 2011 (2 months after the original deadline). This was one of the main reasons for extending the duration of the project.

Injection moulded parts
During the development phase MFKK contacted an injection Moulding company Koepfer who are specialised in injection moulding small gearings. The design reached its final version with their cooperation, as the design was limited by manufacturing procedure and cost restrains. It was Koepfer's suggestion to make one provisional injection moulding tool that includes all the above parts to save on costs. Provisional injection moulds are made of softer metal allowing easier fabrication, and due to this are much cheaper. They are also designed for smaller batches so they don't last as long. The cost of a provisional injection mould starts at 6,000 Euros while an actual one starts at 20,000 Euros. Koepfer offered to do the mould for 9,000 Euros that includes the 5 different parts.

The special studs were designed to support each other and also serve as the shaft for the rollers. The geometry designed was not standard but can be mass produced using a press. For ECOBOARD 36,000 pieces were required which could be done using a robotic lathe. The material chosen was copper (CuZn39Pb3) based on the cost and ease of manufacture.

Sheet metal parts
A number of additional components were manufactured by partner MPE. They used laser cutting to cut out the 121 layers and the additional components that were needed for the linear drive positioning. For cost reasons they used simple cold rolled steel for the components.
Linear Drive
In order to move the motor rows up and down between the layers a linear drive was introduced. A leading company in linear system was contacted in the form of Bosch Rexroth for the prototype. Using their standard catalogues the required components were ordered and assembled by MFKK together with the parts supplied by MPE.

It has to be noted that the linear system supplied by Bosch Rexroth is a lot more precise than required for this application and for the final product a much cheaper custom made linear drive would be sufficient if produced in numbers. For the prototype it was cheaper to buy a ready made system rather than manufacturing a one of single system.

Simple plastic parts
Some parts were manufactured using 3D printing to avoid the need for addition injection moulding tools.

The support plate for the linear drive was printed by MFKK using their UPrint 3D printer that is capable of 0.25 mm resolution. This was not manufactured from steel due to the complication with the additional welding that would have been required.

ECOBOARD was proposed and designed to be a modular construction to allow the building of any size giant posters (rectangular, strip, etc...). The housing for each different board has to be custom made to fit the number of modules, but at the same time should be produced with the same technique using the same profiles.

Integration of the prototype
The prototype assembly was a much bigger task than initially anticipated. The reduced size prototype was designed to be ½ m2 but it still contained 7,200 pixels. With each pixel consisting of:
-5 studs
-4 rollers
-1 pulley (made up of two parts)
-2 supports
-1 shaft gear
-1 foil

This meant over 100,000 pieces of components that all had to be positioned by hand.

It has to be noted that for the final product an automated assembly line will be necessary ensuring much faster speed, reducing cost and perfect quality.

Step 1 - Stud placement
Each pixel contains 5 studs, 4 studs for the rollers and one for the gear pulley. The studs were designed to be tight fit, so they can be inserted in the cut out holes. Unfortunately it would have increased cost massively to manufacture it to such tight tolerances therefore a loose fit was chosen. This meant that each stud had to be glued in individually. A total of 36,000 studs were placed.

Step 1.1 Positioning
Each stud had to be placed into the 1 mm diameter holes on the plates ensuring that the studs do not line up with the stud below. This was done so the head of the stud could be glued before reaching its final position. When a stud was placed incorrectly and fell into the one below then it had to be taken out using tweezers.
Step 1.2 Gluing
After each stud was placed it had to be glued so it stays in the desired position. A number of different types of glues were tested, but in the end extra strong thread lock glue was chosen. It is easy to handle as it is very viscous and it takes about 12 hours to set if it is in an airtight place (in a thread for example). To apply the right quantity medical syringes were used with needles. The glue could be wiped away easily if there was spillage.
Step 1.3 Fixing
After being glued each stud had to be inserted correctly to its final position. The tip of the stud when in the final position is inserted into the head of the adjacent stud allowing it to come in level with the plates. Tweeters were used to position the studs although for the studs towards the middle of the plate (pulley axel) a special purpose tool had to be used. After each stud was in place the excess glue was wiped away.
Step 1.4 Finishing a layer
After completion of a layer, each stud was checked visually to ensure it is lined up with the one below, and that none of the stud heads stick out over the plane of the plate. If all in order, the spacers were put on the 14 support shafts made of M3 threaded bar before placing the following layer.
Step 1.5 Repairs
Due to the amount of parts used, in some occasions faulty studs were identified after it has been positioned. The hole in the head sometimes got jammed up. In some occasions the jamming could be cleaned using compressed air, but in some occasions a stud change was needed. These situations required very precise skills using two tweeters. The glue set after 12 hours in an airtight place, so studs stuck down could still be removed with relative easy within the timescale.
Step 2 - Stud maintenance
Placing 36,000 studs by hand meant that certain repairs were necessary before the assembly could continue. There were two main problems, each relating to the inaccurate gluing and sticking of some pieces.
Step 2.1 Straightening
It was noticed, that when the assembly was close to 1 meter in height, a slight twist has developed in the structure. During assembly, the 14 guiding bars were used to support the structure which were in effect M3 threaded bars. Every time a new layer was positioned during gluing, it had to be ensured that the 14 bars are inserted in the required holes. The holes were slightly oversized allowing movement and each time a layer was positioned these threaded bars bent slightly and therefore caused the layers to be very slightly out of position. This displacement is very small and cannot be seen between two layers, but when 120 are stuck together a slight twist could be spotted. It has to be noted that each stud was glued into position and was set in a way that they followed the shape of the curve.

Step 2.2 Stud replacement
When the structure was straightened it had to be taken apart into layers to allow the assembly of the remaining components. During the dismantling a number of studs came loose. This was due to the straightening process as in some cases the glue could not set again. This meant that the studs had to be put back before the assembly could continue ensuring that each stud is in line with the layer below and above. Therefore the layers had to be built up again and in every layer where a stud was missing it had to be glued in again using the process described in Step 1.
Once assembled, time was given for the glue to set before it was dismantled for a final time.
Step 3 - Pixel assembly
By having the studs in position, the basic structure of the board was complete. The next step involved the addition of the injection moulded parts and the foil. In each pixel, two supports had to be put in position before the 4 rollers and the pulley (made from two parts) could be added. After these injection moulded parts have been placed the foil could be positioned. A pixel was finalised by the addition of the gear shaft.
Step 3.1 Shaft support
The shaft supports were injection moulded and were designed so they can be inserted onto the layers and secured through a tight fit. This meant that each support had to be placed into position using tweezers and pushed into place. This was made difficult as the layer had to be elevated off the table and the inner cut-outs were difficult to access due to the studs. All together 14,320 were needed for the prototype and due to the large numbers the final parts came out of the injection tool with a slight burr. This complicated the assembly even more as additional insertion force was required to overcome the friction due to the burrs.
Step 3.2 Rollers
Each pixel contains 5 studs. Four of these support the rollers that the foil runs on. These are symmetrical so they just have to be pulled over the stud. All together 28,800 rollers were positioned.
Step 3.3 Pulley
The pulleys were injection moulded in two parts, as it would have required a complicated tool with an undercut if done in one. For this reason the bottom part with the thread had to be inserted onto the main pulley part. They were manufactured to tight tolerances to allow a good grip, but as the injection moulding tool got worn the fit became looser. In these cases simple super glue was used to ensure the parts fit together. The combined pulley was placed on the inner studs with the gears at the bottom. Altogether 7,200 pulleys were used for the prototype.
Step 3.4 Foil
The positioning of the foils was done after all other parts were positioned on a layer. Each foil was placed over each roller before it was looped over the pulley using tweezers. It had to be ensured that the foils are not upside down. Once positioned the foils were turned to the required colour for the given pixel position known by the corresponding motor. 7200 foils were positioned.
Step 3.5 Shaft
The shaft was the last part to be added to each pixel. A metal rod had plastic injection moulds on either side. The end with the gearing was inserted into the pulley while the other side had to be orientated so the slot is vertical allowing the motor rows and the linear drive to be able to move through it. Each pixel contained a shaft so 7,200 of them were positioned. For the final set of injection moulds huge burrs appeared on the side of the shafts which were again due to the wearing of the injection moulding tool.
Step 4 - Layer assembly
The layer assembly was done straight onto the frame. The bottom layer was secured to the frame and the 14 guiding bars were inserted. After each layer was placed a spacer hull was put on all the guiding bars before the next layer could be placed. After each layer was positioned it was ensured that the pixels are intact so the studs are in position and all parts have been added.

Step 5 - Linear drive
The top plate and the bottom plate were wider than the rest of the plates so they could support the linear drive. The linear drive consisted of two guiding bars, a ball screw and nut, 4 linear brushes and two bearings to enable the vertical movement. The motors and the PCBs were attached to it through two motor holder plates. In order to attach the linear drive to the top and bottom plates a number of supports were manufactured by MPE. These were all assembled and tested prior to the integration.

Step 6 - Housing assembly
The housing was assembled in a number of individual steps.
Step 6.1 Attaching the frame top
A near identical part to the bottom of the frame was attached to the top of the pixels. It had the same geometry but with different connection points. The frame was secured to the top plate using the 14 support rods going through the whole prototype.
Step 6.2 Placing the side supports
The four corners of the top and the bottom of the frame contained "L" pieces that were welded on. These served as the support for the side walls. At the front of the prototype 2 "U" profiles were used as the support while at the back 2 "L" profiles were placed. These gave the main structure of the frame
Step 6.3 Fitting the interior
Two shelves were placed in the back of the prototype to support the electrical components. These were secured using an additional rail on the side of the prototype.
Step 6.4 Placing the screen
The screen was placed in a frame similar to a picture frame made of "L" and "U" profiles. The screen was made of polycarbonate and was secured to the frame with clips. The complete front panel including the scream was placed on the front of the prototype. The "U" profiles used for the housing structure served as the support of the front panel. The panel was simply inserted into the "U" profiles and secured with bolts through the side.
Step 6.5 Side panels, top panel and back door
The side panels were simply screwed onto the side supports through the provided holes. The top panel was also secured a similar way. The back door was attached through hinges to allow quick access to the electronics and the moving parts of ECOBOARD.

This completed the assembly of the mechanical Beta prototype.

Conclusion of Task 2.4
The objective of the task was to complete the assembly of the complete board structure in terms of mechanical components.

After the final design was refined, the necessary steps were made to build the prototype. A number of deviations took place with respect to the original plan which was related to the size of the board, the cost of the prototype and the delivery times.

Task 2.5 ECODRIVE development
For exploitation purposes, a portable mini ECOBOARD was developed called ECODRIVE. The ECODRIVE's main aim is to help promote the product by showing the unique idea behind ECOBOARD but without giving away any of its "secrets".

The main objective was to design a much simplified ECOBOARD, without any electronic components. All the pixel movement is to be done mechanically by hand, and instead of having 3 foils only one single foil is needed. The ECODRIVE was proposed to consist of 10 ∗ 20 pixels of the same size (8mm ∗ 8mm) as for the original ECOBOARD. To allow the device to be portable, the foil does not contain the full colour range (it would have to be around 10cm deep) but instead the coloured foil contains specific images and logos which can be displayed if each is rolled in the correct position - similar to a puzzle game.

ECODRIVE background
ECODRIVE was designed to be the hand held small scale model of ECOBOARD that uses the same principles of it without revealing the full concept.

Main differences between ECOBOARD and ECODRIVE:
ECOBOARD is made up of large modules (1 m by ½ m) and can be joined together to build a giant advertising board of any size. ECODRIVE is a small hand held device designed to aid the dissemination of ECOBAORD and consists of 9 by 16 pixels (8 cm by 13 cm)
-Drive mechanism
ECOBOARD uses miniature stepper motors for turning the foil while ECODRIVE is completely manual. The original plan was that each pixel can be moved by fingers and this would have meant 144 pixels which are 8 by 8 mm. Due to the amount of time it would have taken to change the image with these specifications an additional reeling rod was developed that allows that is still mechanical and allows the rotation of a whole column of pixels (9 in total). This is possible in ECODRIVE as each foil has to be displayed by the same amount to give a new image.
The foil for ECOBOARD contains a full spectrum of 64 colours to allow the display of any image. ECODRIVE is viewed from close up using the same pixel size and therefore the foil differs in a number of ways.

-The foil is much shorter (instead of 32 cm in length only 8 cm)
-The foil does not contain the full range of colours (64) but has 11 pixels with each being 8 mm. Each colouring contains a specific pixel from a specific image. There are 11 images it can display, which are the logos of the 8 partners, the EC flag and the logo of ECOBOARD and Frame Work Programme 7.
-Instead of using the same elastic foil, simple sticker type foil was used. This was done do reduce costs as the sticker type foil was much cheaper to manufacture and the simple mechanics of ECODRIVE did not require the special elastic foil.

The following components were needed for the development of ECOBOARD:
-Threaded bar and spacers
-Reeling rod

The assembly was done in a number of steps. After all the components were manufactured and all the foils were joined together the assembly could commence.

The objective of the ECODRIVE development was to build a small scale ECOBOARD that can be driven manually to demonstrate the ECOBOARD operation and to be used as an exploitation tool.

Work package 3 "Pixel Control"
The aim of this work package was to develop the pixel control for ECOBOARD. The development included four main steps:
-Design the connection between the motor and the foil gears
-Develop the pixel motion control
-Develop a monitoring system for the pixels
-Develop the electronics for the motion system

Work package 3 summary
Work package 3 started at Month 6 in the first reporting period and finished at Month 16 during the second reporting period. It consisted of three tasks. Task 3.1 finished during the first period but Task 3.2 was completed in the 2nd period, while Task 3.3 only started in the 2nd period.

Task 3.1 Pixel Motion Control Design - Connection
The main of this task was to develop the connection mechanism for the pixel moving system that will be able to wind the foils individually in each pixel. The original concept of ECOBOARD was that each pixel contains three foils that are connected to a set of gears at the back of the pixel. An electric motor is placed on an X-Y positioning device at the back of the module and is able to move and position itself accurately. Once in position, it connects to the cogs one by one and winds them into the required position.

Task 3.2 Pixel Electronics
The objective of the pixel electronics was to grant the displacement of the pixels' foil belonging to a pixel module according to the information received from the ECOBOARD Management Unit (MU). A pixel module is the basic element of an ECOBOARD and its mechanical structure was described previously. All the pixel modules integrate the same electronic circuits that allow translating the digital data from the MU to a determined number of turns of the motor, thus provoking the displacement of the foil in a certain degree.

MMR solution
The architecture of the pixel control system is described in the deliverable D3.2. It is based on the mobile motor row (MMR) solution consisting of a row of miniature stepper motors that moves up and down on the rear part of the board and connects with the stacked layers of pixels to turn the foils.

Enhanced smart driver
According to the previous design, each miniature motor is addressed individually by the MM through the I2C bus. This is possible thanks to the "smart" driver that interfaces the MM and every miniature motor, which consists of a small footprint 8-bit microcontroller and a low-voltage stepper motor driver. An initial version of this "smart" driver was presented in deliverable D3.2.

Work package 4 "Process Control and Monitoring"
The objective of this work package was to develop the control and monitoring system, which operates ECOBOARD. This part of the system is responsible for converting the uploaded image to coloured pixels so they can be displayed and for monitor the displayed image can be analysed.

Work package 4 summary
Work package 4 started in Month 9 in the first period and was completed in Month 15 in the second period. It consisted of two distinctive tasks with one concentrating on the image processing and the other one on the system monitoring. Both tasks started in the first period and the progress was reported in the first periodic report. Further development was made in the second period and the results were reported in Deliverables 4.1 and 4.2.

Task 4.1 Image processing
The image processing task started by simulating images to help determine the required pixel size and the colour scheme. The optimal pixel size was determined at 8 mm and the mechanical design was done accordingly. The colour scheme used affects the length of the foil, which also influences the mechanical design. In the default situation there were three different foils planned, but due to the complications and additional cost it would have meant for the mechanical design a different colour scheme was chosen which uses only one foil.

Task 4.2 System Monitoring - Camera
The aim of this task was to develop a camera system that can be used for remote maintenance and monitoring operations.

The two functions (Maintenance and monitoring) have different architectures, although the software components used are very similar.

The board displays a chessboard and using the camera it is captured. The angle of distortion is calibrated using the information from the chessboard - all lines should be parallel. The distortion module of the software can virtually mount the rectangular perfect chessboard image on the distorted one and using the straight lines transforms it. Using the undistorted image the pixels can be calibrated (a perfect chessboard should be seen; if not the pixel with the problem can be identified and repositioned). To ensure that no pixels are stuck, the inverse of the transformation is performed (black turns to white, white turns to black). The results are analysed.
Calibration process
1.Image is captured using the camera and sent to the web based administrator
2.The actual distorted image and the perfect rectangular one are placed on top of each other and compared to find the distortion curve
3.The undistorted chess table is analyzed for black and white pixels ensuring that they are all at the right location
4.An inverse chessboard image is displayed to ensure that the pixels are not stuck
5.Results are sent to the board if recalibration is required

Monitoring has two roles. Firstly to inform the user that the actual advert is displayed, secondly that the user can monitor remotely if the displayed image is the required quality. This allows the user to be located anywhere in the world and check the displayed adverts.
Monitoring process
1.Image is captured using the camera and sent to the web based administrator
2.The image is pre-processed to improve image quality. This includes filtering and noise reduction.
3.Using the information gathered during maintenance the image is undistorted
4.Post-processing is performed to make the colours as realistic as possible
5.Picture is compared to the original (which is also stored on the web based administrator interface)
6.Image is displayed

Work Package 5 "Remote Control System and Administration"
The objective of this work package was to develop a communication interface and a web-based administrator unit for ECOBOARD so images can be sent to it and the system can be monitored.

Work package 5 summary
Work package 5 commenced in Month 9. Task 5.1 which relates to the communication interface was completed in the first period although some modifications were needed to allow for better operation and smoother integration with the management unit. The development of the web based administrator was done in Task 5.2 which commenced in Month 11 and finished in Month 16.

Task 5.1 Communication Interface
The communication interface of ECOBOARD plays a vital role in maintaining contact between the user and the board distributed at specific area to send images and to monitor the board. The aim of this task was to investigate into the different types of communication interfaces and develop optimal solution in the form of modules that can be integrated into the board depending on the need.

Task 5.2 Web-based Administrator
The aim was to develop a web-based administration software. As first step the following requirements have been defined:
-Web based application
-Monitoring capabilities
-Changing advertisements remotely
-Handling multiple displays
-Error logging

The basic architecture was developed by the consortium at project meetings and it was based on the digital signage technology. The aim was to develop a simple structure with basic and easy to use functions that can be expended later. The final system can be classified in 3 main parts, the user administration area, the picture management area and the communication function.

Work Package 6 "Power Management"

The main aim of this work package was to develop an ECOBOARD power management system that ensures the eco-friendliness of the board through the inclusion of a renewable energy source where possible. The system includes the battery, solar panel, mains option, and lighting related specifications and developments.

Work package 6 summary
Work package 6 started in Month 10 and consisted of 3 tasks. The first task was the power management specification which was completed by the end of Month 11 in the first reporting period and detailed in Deliverable 6.1. Minor improvements were made which have been described below. The other two tasks (urban and stand alone operation developments) also started in the first period but they finished at Month 16 in the second period.

Task 6.1 Power management Specification
ECOBOARD can be split into two types of operations which will influence the required power. These are urban operation where it can be connected to the electricity grid and stand alone operation where self power is required. These two operations have a different specification with respect to some functions. Where the electricity supply is not limited the functions will be maximised, while when the power is collected through photovoltaic (PV) solar panels a less demanding power management will be used. The specification for both types of operation was completed by M11 and was in Deliverable 6.1 in detail.

Task 6.2 Stand Alone Operation
Solar power rises as the best choice for powering the ECOBOARD in stand-alone operation mode. The photovoltaic (PV) panels will charge a set of batteries which will provide the energy and power to make work the modules of ECOBOARD. As in the case of urban mode operation, the electric power must be distributed within the ECOBOARD in a balanced way, providing enough power to all the modules whenever it is required.

Task 6.3 Urban Operation
The ECOBOARD project aims to develop a high flexible and modular tool for the advertising industry. An ECOBOARD is made up of several stackable modules and a central management unit. The modules are 60x120-pixel sized, identical from the point of view of the hardware and they are intended to be replaced by another unit in case it is damaged or fails without critical procedures, in a simple and easy way.

Work Package 7 "System integration"
The main objective of this work package was to integrate the different parts of ECOBOARD that have been developed in the previous work packages and to complete two beta prototypes that will include all the different operations in terms of power management and communication interfaces.

Work package 7 summary
This work package started in the second period. During the development of the ECOBOARD concept it was foreseen that two prototypes would be produced with each being 1 m2. One of the prototypes was proposed to have normal urban power management while the other one would mount solar panels. During the development stages it was revealed that certain modifications are necessary to the original design to achieve the best combination of quality, cost and ease of manufacture as well as to ensure reliability.

Size of the prototype
The size of the prototype (and the number of prototypes) was governed by cost. It became quite evident during the design stages that due to the manufacturing processes and with the introduction of miniature motors (to simplify the mechanics and to speed up the system) the cost of the system would be higher than originally anticipated. The new price of 40,000 Euros for a 6 m2 board was accepted by the partners but has also affected the size of prototype that could be produced within the frame of the project.

Rural power management
The other resulting affect of the increase in cost meant that the rural power management will not be implemented in the prototype. The aim of the rural management system was to allow ECOBOARD to be used in a stand alone application where it uses solar power to keep working. This was taken into the consideration and all the electronic equipment within the board were chosen to be suited to this.

The delay to the project became evident during the design stages. Before the most optimal solution was found a number of different concept families were investigated in depth and discussed by the partners during the frequent project meetings. These meetings resulted in more ideas and question marks that had to be answered before a final decision could be made. It was at the M18 meeting when all the price quotes have arrived and the decision could be made for the final version. Orders have been placed straight away but there were huge delays to both the foil manufacture and the injection moulding.

Task 7.1 Pixel mechanics and control integration
The aim of this task was to integrate the pixel mechanics and the electric motors before the other components can be integrated. Due to the nature of the design the electric motors had to be integrated together with the linear drive which was carried out in Task 2.4 and described earlier. Therefore it will not be repeated here.

Task 7.2 Full system integration
The full system integration could commence after all the subsystem making it up were completed. All the non mechanical system such as the remote communication, the motor control and the camera unit were all completed on time, but due to the delay of the mechanical integration the full system integration had to be delayed as well.

Step 1 - Lighting and camera integration
The lighting and the camera integration required some modification to the exterior of the housing. The light support arms had to be secured and the cables had to be fed inside the housing. This meant drilling some holes in the housing. The lighting and camera integration can be broken down into steps:
Step 1.1 - Fitting the light support
The light supports were fitted to the top of the housing to the frame using 2 bolts on either side. The support rods were connected with a half pipe profile supported by a brace.
Step 1.2 - Sticking the lights on
The lights were stuck on the brace using the half pipe as a cover. To ensure a strong bond an additional double sided tape was used together with the self adhesive on the LED strip
Step 1.3 - Securing the camera
The camera was fitted to a U plate which was supported by the brace. The U plate was designed so the camera slotted into it so no additional securing was required.
Step 1.4 - Antenna
The aerial was secured using its magnetic base close to the light support. The cables were fed into the support through a small hole.
Step 1.5 - Wiring
The wires for the light and the camera were fed through the light support into the housing. Holes were cut on the top panel and on the frame to allow the wires to remain hidden. Inside the housing they were fed to the rear and held in place using cable ties.
Step 2 - Electronic components integration
The integration of the electronic components were the last step. Before integration they were all tested to ensure that they worked correctly. After disconnecting them they could be positioned in the housing and secured before the wiring was completed.
Step 2.1 - Fitting the electrical components
The electronic components were placed on the shelves according to the CAD design allowing easy wiring and accessibility for the operator.
Step 2.2 - Securing them to the panel
The electronic components could have been secured if they had included fitting holes but plastic clips (legs) were printed using the 3D printing facilities of MFKK. The components lacking of securing holes were secured with these plastic clips.
Step 2.3 - Connecting the cables
Once all the components were secured the wiring was completed. At this stage the camera and the lighting cables were also connected. An extension lead was secured at the bottom of the housing to allow the plugging in of all the 5 power supplies. The extension cable was fed out of the housing through a discrete hole.

Work Package 8 "Testing and validation"
The main objective of work package 8 was to carry the validation activities. The validation activities were aimed to test the pre-competitive prototype that was developed during the project.

Work package 8 summary
The original objective included the complete validation of the originally proposed system with both rural and urban applications (solar power and mains power). This was to be carried out on two prototypes each being 1 m2. It has been detailed in previous reports describing the integration of the prototype that certain modification to the produced prototype had to be made for cost reasons. Due to the high cost of manufacturing prototypes it was decided by the consortium to focus the resources on a smaller prototype and use that for the validation.

Task 8.1 Testing of the beta prototype
The testing of the beta prototype was carried out as intermediate validation, which took place during integration over number of months due to the late delivery of the components. During this time it was possible to identify any problems with the prototype and make the necessary modifications where possible. A number of tests were carried out which revealed that all non mechanical functions such as the motor control and the communication work perfectly. Unfortunately the pixel mechanics tests revealed a number of errors. These errors were due to the manufacturing discrepancies in the components especially with the foil and the injection moulded parts.

System improvements
As the results of the intermediate validation (testing of the beta prototype) some improvements were required for the mechanical pixel parts. All other functions including the camera, communication and motor control worked perfectly, but in order for ECOBOARD to function the pixels had to move. Moving the pixels meant that the principle of remotely operating motors to rotate foils can be proven and validated which can be adapted to the rest of the board later.

Pulley modifications
There were some modifications needed for the pulley and gear combination. Due to the thicker foils the diameter of the pulley had to be made smaller slightly. This allowed more room for the foil, but also allowed space to add a rubber coating onto its surface that increased the grip between the foil and the pulley. The outer edge of the pulley and gear combination was designed to have rough edges, but this was not possible to achieve with the injection moulding due to the small sizes. Therefore a rubber coating was placed on the top part of the pulley ensuring that there is enough grip between the pulley and the foil avoiding slippage.

Other improvements
Some further improvements were also needed to improve the operation. The foils were stretched to a specific length which caused them to elongate slightly and become slightly thinner. This elongation meant that as it was wound around the rollers and the pulley it exerted slightly less force on them, reducing the friction and torque needed for their rotation. A number of elongation tests were carried out to see what amount of stretching is the most suitable for the foils. If the foils were over stretched it meant that they became loose when assembled and could not be rotated by the pulley cause of slippage.

Shaft extension
For demonstration purposes the gear shaft had to be elongated. This was done to allow free movement for the linear drive when it was tested. Due to the problems with the pixel mechanics only the improved pixels were used for the validation, which meant only these pixels were rotated. The rest of the pixels stayed stationary. Therefore to avoid the shafts of these pixels getting the way of the linear drive an extension was placed on the shaft of the perfected pixels and the linear drive was moved back a few millimetres. This meant that the linear drive could move perfectly up and down and slot into the slots of the extensions for the perfect pixels.
Improvement conclusions
The improvements made had a significant effect on the pixels that they were applied on. For the demonstration purposes 10 pixels were selected for the modification. For each of these pixels the parts were modified by hand and assembled carefully. The corresponding motors were connected at the back and tested.

Task 8.2 System validation
The final validation took place in two phases with both including the improvements described in the previous section. The first set of validation tests involved a set of systematic functionality tests. These tests were carried out on the complete integrated prototype.

Functionality tests
The aims of the functionality tests were to demonstrate the different aspects of the ECOBOARD prototype both in terms of visual experience and in terms of operation. The testing involved a number of people to give an overall objective view on the results. The people taking part in the tests involved the RTDs and end user TRUCK who were present in person, but the documentation of the tests were sent to the rest of the consortium so they could also give their feedback.

Demonstration took place during the final meeting when all partners were present. The previously performed validation activities have been combined in a systematic order through specific steps (stages) the operation of the ECOBOARD prototype can be validated by all partners.

Stage 1 - Calibration
The calibration was demonstrated the same way as it was described in the previous validation activities. The chess board image was stuck on the front panel and an image was taken offline. A laptop was connected through a USB connection and an image was taken. The calibration software was used to find the squared pattern and straightened the image.

Stage 2 - Pixel movement validation
To validate the pixel movement information was sent over the internet and the communication unit to the management unit to rotate the 10 perfected pixels only. Initially each pixel was rotated individually and later all the pixels together.

Stage 3 - Motor control validation
The motor control validation was done through the web based administrator in order to demonstrate online functions. The web based administrator interface (see online) was presented on the projector and the user demonstrated the registration interface before logging in. Once the user was logged in the interface could be introduced including the menus and the status fields. An image was uploaded to webpage and the full process was demonstrated with all the user interface functions.

Stage 4 - The light is switched on and off through internet
The light was switched on and off a number of times through the graphical user interface. The status of the light was also displayed in real time on the user interface so the user could see if the light is on or off at a given time.

Stage 5 - Camera controlled through internet
The final activity included the demonstration of the remote monitoring. Using the web based administrator the camera was instructed to take a picture of the board. The image was taken and received by the web based administrator in about 30 seconds. The image was distorted but using the calibration information it was straightened.

Work package 8 conclusions
The validation results bought mixed conclusions. In one sense the pixel mechanics did not work as expected but with further improvements the concept of foil rotation could be demonstrated and validated. All other functions that were also part of the ECOBOARD operation but were non mechanical have been proven and validated to a satisfactory result and have been accepted by the whole consortium.

Potential Impact:
The objective of this report is to present the discussions and agreements between the Parties, in particular the SME participants, for the dissemination and exploitation of the results. The individual interests of each SME partner in the consortium have also been taken into consideration. The SMEs are satisfied with the work carried out by the RTD performers and the generated foreground; hence the results of ECOBOARD have both technical/scientific and commercial value.

General public General information about usefulness and effectiveness of the product -Website
-Mass media
-Multimedia guide
Scientific Community Specific information about operation of the product -ECODRIVE
-Other events

General public - Websites
General dissemination initiated at the beginning of the project with the creation two project websites. The website for the consortium was hosted by MFKK (see online) and was used as the official project where information about the project progress was constantly updated and the partners could download and upload information from the private interface where they had their own login. A public area was also available so it could serve as a dissemination tool. Another website was also set up to serve as a more commercial interface between the project and the outside world as well to be the basis of the web based administrator for operating ECOBOARD.

General public - Mass media
Several activities were carried out in order to reach the public through mass media. These included articles, posters and flyers both on a national and on a European level.

General public - Multimedia guide
Part of the planned dissemination activities included a multimedia CD that was designed to promote the achievements of the ECOBOARD project and to spread knowledge about projects funded by the European Commission. The multimedia guide was developed in flash and is available on a CD as well as online so it can be used as marketing tool for dissemination. It also includes an operation guide and video for training purpuses.

Scientific community
The activities described above are for the whole public, but more specific dissemination activities were also carried out which was aimed at the scientific community. The activities can be summed up as follows:
-The objective of the ECODRIVE development was to build a small scale ECOBOARD that can be driven manually to demonstrate the ECOBOARD operation and to be used as an exploitation tool. Due to the increase in cost of the ECOBOARD prototype, the consortium decided to reduce the originally planned 8 ECODRIVEs developed to a single demonstration unit. It was also decided to go for a 9 by 16 aspect ratio as it is commonly used in advertising today. A simple mechanism was designed that allows the rotation of complete columns as well as single pixels to speed up the image change. The adjustment of single pixels allows the user to carry out corrections if one pixel slips. ECODRIVE is capable of displaying 10 different images. The logos of the 8 partners involved in the consortium as well as the FP7 logo and the project logo. The manufactured end result is a fully functional ECODRIVE that can be used a demonstration tool to show the principles of ECOBOARD and to be used for dissemination purposes.
-During the project implementation there were some conferences and other events where MFKK disseminate the results of ECOBOARD and other project, as an oral presentation:
-Mr. Peter Szemes in Prague 6th May 2009" Research Conference"
-Mr. Peter Szemes in Brussels 29th January 2010 "Benefiting from EU research projects - Successful participation and commercialization of results"
-Mr. Peter Szemes in Budapest 23rd June 2009 "SMEs club" organized by National Office For Research and Technology
-Mr. Szabolcs Gyarmati in Budapest 23 rd February 2011 - "ELTE Innovation Day"
-Mr. Szabolcs Gyarmati in Budapest presented about MFKK and its project results on "ICT Proposers' Day on 19-20th May 2011"
-At the end of the project there was the MEDIA HUNGARY 2011 conference (3-4 May 2011) about outdoor advertising innovations and trends. This conference was held in Siófok, an ideal event to present the ECOBOARD to the biggest advertising agencies in Europe.

Exploitable Foreground
The Exploitation Board, consisting of representatives from each SME partner and chaired by the Exploitation Manager (TRUCK), was responsible for the exploitation management of the project and for drawing an exploitation strategy.

Initial exploitation plans
Following the initial discuss between the consortium members, the SME partners will own all Foreground and patent rights of the equipment. They have already discussed and agreed on the conditions under which each of the SMEs will be able to use and license the Foreground and the IP rights attached to it. In the early stages of the market penetration only the right of use, sale and advertise will be licensed in return for royalties. The technical small and medium-sized entreprises (SME) partners intend to lead the exploitation of the new technology by producing, marketing and distributing the new technology. Manufacturing rights will initially be restricted to partners of the consortium, unless the demand exceeds their manufacturing capacity.

Protection of foreground processes
The small and medium-sized entreprises (SME)s held discussions at several project meetings regarding the protection of the innovative elements within the ECOBOARD technology before any communications with third parties or pre-exploitation activities were implemented.
The first option was to protect the ECOBOARD by a patent that the consortium investigated, considering that patent protection is solid and provides a clear competitive advantage to its owners (the SMEs). At the same time, patents can only be granted for inventions which are new, imply an inventive step and are capable of industrial application. On the basis of the above, the SMEs and other partners monitored the market and scientific publications throughout the project to ensure that the topology is novel. To the date, it seems to be the case. A thorough investigation of the state-of-the-art was also carried out continuously.

Trade Mark
The second special protection form is trade mark that protect the commercial sign under which a product or service is offered on the market. The possibilities were investigated for ECOBOARD specialize below. A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination.

Trade secret
Finally, an alternative option for protecting the technical aspects of the technology (instead of or complementary to a patent) is the trade secret. According to most national legislations in the EU, trade secret protection applies for information which has a specific commercial value (and that is the case of the ECOBOARD technology and the know-how for its operation) and provided that its owner takes concrete steps for protecting the secret. In this regard, all partners of the ECOBOARD consortium are aware of the importance of treating confidential information as such; all publication and other dissemination activities shall be revised by the Exploitation Board in order to ensure that key information regarding the Foreground will not be available to third parties. The major terms and conditions of the exploitation have been already discussed by the SME partners and are included in the Consortium Agreement, Section 8.

Protection of foreground actions
The above mentioned options have been reviewed by the consortium led by the exploitation manager Gabor Hetyey of TRUCK. After the final meeting where the demonstration activities were performed the consortium discussed in detail the future steps regarding exploitation.

Follow up projects
As a conclusion of implementation, demonstration and testing, on prototype the pixels can be moved but further improvements are necessary. There are follow up projects in pipeline to implement some modifications beyond the ECOBOARD project. These modifications are being carried out using the partners own resources supplemented with any national or international funds available. So far the following opportunities were detected and closer studied:
This programme currently counts 39 members including European Communities. Several European countries participate in EUREKA cooperation through a network of National Information Points.

Demonstration action in FP7
Supporting SMEs for demonstration activities: the 2011 work programme foresees a new test action, aimed at funding demonstration projects. SMEs often need to follow up research projects with work linked to "demonstration" or production of prototypes before actually commercialising goods and services but funding for this kind of activity is not readily available.

Technical content/scope:
Projects must be centred on the needs of the SMEs to carry out demonstration activities before being able to enter the market. Activities can include testing of product-like prototypes, scale-up studies, performance verification and implementation of new technical and non-technical solutions. This phase could also include detailed market studies/business plans or market strategies.

The Demonstration action is a bottom-up scheme: the projects may address any research topic across the entire field of science and technology4.

The consortium must consist of a minimum of 3 SMEs from at least 3 different Member States or Associated Countries. These three SMEs must be/have been participants together in a 'Cooperative research' project funded under the last FP6 call (FP6-2004-SME-COOP) or in a 'Research for SMEs' project. SMEs which were members together of the 'SME core group' in the FP6-2004-SME-COLL call or which are members together of the 'other enterprises or end-users' in a 'Research for SME Associations' project in FP7 may also participate.

Type of activities:
Demonstration activities are designed to prove the viability of new technologies that offer a potential economic advantage, but which cannot be commercialised directly (e.g. testing of product-like prototypes).

Resources and duration
Indicative budget: EUR 15 million. The overall budget of a project should typically be between 0.5 to 3 million Euros. It is expected that the duration of a project would be in the range of 18 to 24 months.

Funding Scheme: Collaborative Projects
The co-funding for demonstration activities is therefore limited to up to 50% of the costs.
Excepted impact: Projects under the scheme for demonstration aim at bridging the gap between research and market. The concept is to prove the viability of a new solution that offers a potential economic advantage, but which cannot be directly commercialised. The expected impact should be clearly described both at qualitative and quantitative level, providing an indication of the economic impact, e.g. on turnover, employment or target markets as well as expected patent applications or licence agreements. Projects ensure to respect basic ethical principles and include provisions for communication and dissemination of results.

Business Plan
Before the start of the project and during the meetings organized over the periods passed of the project, the partners analyzed the business perspective of ECOBOARD product then further detailed the schematic business plan drawn in the DoW. This business plan along with additional information which was gathered by the partners is presented here.

The product - publishable results
As proposed in the DoW, ECOBOARD is a pixel-based advertising board capable of displaying static images in near real-time with relatively low initial and operational costs. The marketable system consists of the display board with an image control camera and the software package which includes an application for converting common format image files into a format that fits the color scheme of ECOBOARD system, a module for sending the converted file to the display, and an image control application that helps the user checking and tracking the image screened on the display from the office.

The market potential of the results
In order to survey the user acceptance and the needs of the market a brief market analysis was made in the first half of 2009, as Task 1.1 in WP 1. The response to the questionnaire was good and the collected information is a vital asset to help the success of the project. In general the need for ECOBOARD was underlined and valuable information was collected regarding which factors should be taken into consideration during the development. The results of the survey were presented in Deliverable 1.1. The results of the survey confirmed that ECOBOARD will be a real alternative in outdoor advertising and that the advertising market needs a novel solution, which offers nearly real-time images on an affordable initial and maintenance cost.

The financial plan
The originally proposed cost of ECOBOARD in the DoW was very low. It was suggested that the manufacturing cost will eb around 1,000 Euros. By the end of the first period it was accepted that this will not be possible as due to the complicated mechanics and manufacturing technologies required a standard size ECOBOARD of 2 by 3 meters will cost around 40,000 Euros. MFKK created a detailed estimation of manufacturing costs of ECOBOARD based on several negotiations with suppliers and the SME partners.

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