Connected Objects
Looking for a sign? Starling lets you connect one to the Internet

While some consumers are aware of advancements in LED TV technology, the same thing can’t necessarily be said for the use of LED lighting in signs. Signage just doesn’t usually tend to excite people in the same way that TVs do.

But that hasn’t stopped the makers of Starling from putting a creative spin on LED signs. Starling is an open source LED display that features a modular design and is Wi-Fi-enabled for easy connection to the Internet. The accompanying mobile-friendly Web application enables simple configuration and usage, allowing users to select the font appearing on the signs, as well as the scroll speed and other features. There’s also a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

Starling ships in July in four SKUs. Future pricing isn’t provided, but Crowd Supply backers can get a main board with one LED matrix for a $12 pledge; the single, small Wi-Fi-enabled Starling One matrix display in a case for a $20 pledge; the Starling Five, made up of five Wi-Fi-enabled modules in a case, for a $50 pledge; and the Starling Ten display for lengthier messages for a $90 pledge. Future pricing will be 20-30 percent higher. Starling’s makers hope to raise $5,000 by March 23.

Outside of hobbyists, most of the market for Starling likely lies in the enterprise space. One possible negative is that, although the product comes with free cloud service, that will only last a year and it’s not clear how much the service will cost after that. The service lets users queue up messages for display on Starling. It typically takes one or two minutes to scroll completely through each message, so queuing helps by saving and displaying messages at a uniform pace. Another potential negative is that the case isn’t waterproof.