Wayfinding with RPi

A few years ago I was tasked at looking at solutions for digital, static wayfinding. While there are some cool solutions available now for free with minimum setup, none of these were available to me. We currently were locked in with a digital signage company that charged $7,000/year for generating 640×480 graphics with events that showed up in our Exchange 2007 calendar.

The jump to Exchange 2010/2013 was dependant upon our vendor to upgrade their software to support the new EWS protocol over the older protocols. This was a classic case of vendor lock-in which is a horrible state to be in. Maintaining legacy software to keep an outdated system running should be avoided like the plague.

After taking a trip to Google HQ in mountain view, CA (back when they did tours), I was encouraged by the motto they plastered all over the buildings: “the most complex problems are rarely solved with blunt force objects.” What also intrigued me was their form of digital wayfinding. It was an e-ink display with a wireless antenna which showed all of its circuitry – definitely made in house. This allowed me to formulate my own configuration after seeing the release of the Raspberry Pi.

After about a week of coding, I was able to make RPi-wayfinding. It is a simple PHP website that pulls in information from Exchange 2007+ (using EWS), a Google Calendar, or Planning Center Online Resources and displays it on a 1920×1080 resolution. This setup has been running smoothly for close to 3 years.

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