Why DX is Building an Integrated Hardware-Software Solution for Cinemas

December 2, 2022
The DX Team
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For the first 25 years of our existence, DX has been focused on developing software that powers great experiences. As we expand our customer base and reinvent our signature product, we’ve realized that to provide the most exceptional service possible to our customers we need to be more than just a software company.

Because our new product is software as a service (SaaS) developed in the cloud, updates to the software happen in real-time. While that ensures that users are always using the most up-to-date version of the software, one possible issue that will eventually arise for every user is that the SaaS product will ultimately advance to the point that it will no longer be compatible with outmoded hardware.

Updating hardware isn’t a new hurdle for cinemas. The history of cinema exhibition is filled with examples of necessary technology upgrades – from adding sound, to adding 3D projection (in multiple iterations across several decades!), to digital sound and screens. However, those enhancements have typically come inside the theaters for the screening experience, not in the lobby where patrons buy their tickets and popcorn.

Optimal performance is not about software or hardware – it’s about both

On the other hand, cinemas utilized the relatively simple system of paper ticketing for decades before computer ticketing became widespread. Even after cinemas began moving toward computer ticketing to offer moviegoers better customer service, many cinemas were not using up-to-date software to provide the most advanced ticketing experience possible.

While it’s easy to blame outdated software, the problem could also be hardware. We’ve likely all seen antiquated kiosks gathering dust in the corner of a cinema with an error message on the screen. Is it the software or hardware causing the issue? Well, there’s a good chance that the problem is related to both, which is why software and hardware integration is the solution.

Software and hardware integration is the approach to technology when a specific software is designed for use only on a specialized hardware system. Apple is a market leader in creating a hardware and software-integrated solution, and the company’s history of blurring the line between being a hardware or a software company has revealed several significant benefits of product integration. Apple products are developed faster, more stable, and have fewer crashes coming from the hardware because a single company has control over the full product experience. Furthermore, it allows for smoother technical assistance when every user is working with the same technology.

Compare that to a PC – and yes, we know the Mac versus PC debate has been going on for decades. While we don’t want to get caught in the crossfire of that argument, it’s important to point out that it’s often easier to service a Mac than a PC simply because Mac offers a single hardware/software package versus literally hundreds of thousands of ways that hardware is integrated with software in PCs.

DX’s software-hardware solution

If one of our customers has a technical issue with our software, we want to solve the issue just as quickly as they do. If we’re all working with the same tools, it’s easier to understand how to fix it and then ensure the next update will prevent that particular issue from happening again.

Our goal at DX is to future-proof our software – in other words, create a product in the cloud that won’t go obsolete. Our software will constantly be updated to be the best product that technology allows for peak performance. By definition, that means we’re building our software with the intention of it being used under ideal hardware conditions. If a new technology can work easily with old hardware, then it’s not going to truly be future-proof because that hardware will eventually become obsolete. And if we’re not future-proofing our technology, we’re not future-proofing our company.

We know that keeping up with hardware upgrades can be challenging for some of our customers. In the cinema business, a boom month fueled by a gigantic blockbuster might be followed by a month or two of down business. That affects a cinema’s purchasing power to replace customer-facing technology like hardware.

Of course, the goal to make our software future-proof doesn’t mean we abandon our customers who aren’t able to update their hardware regularly since that can be an expensive commitment.

Our solution? We’ll provide the hardware

To ensure optimal performance and deliver the best experience for all users, our new SaaS product will come integrated with our hardware. Because our technology includes point-of-sale capabilities, we need to focus our upgrades in terms of both hardware and software as we strive to improve our product, which consists of both technologies. To ensure our customers get the best performance possible out of our software, we will provide our customers with easy-to-install point-of-sale hardware along with our cloud software.

In fact, we have already taken care of this for most of our customers in our home country, Norway. 90 percent of our cinema customers here already use our product with fully integrated hardware and software.

We’ve also teamed with the best to realize this goal. DX has developed a partnership with Elo, the industry-leading hardware company that invented touchscreen technology over 50 years ago to provide customized touchscreen hardware to operate with our software. We knew we had to find a partner who knew the touchscreen hardware business as well as we know the cinema operations business.

Our customers deserve to be future-proof, too

Our point of view is that to ensure the best performance for our product, our hardware and software should be integrated. To fulfill that goal, DX will be providing both to our customers – because we’re not just future-proofing our product for us, we’re future-proofing our product for everyone who uses it. It’s central to our ongoing commitment to helping our customers provide their cinema patrons with the best experience that they can have in a night out at the cinema.

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