How Digital Picture Frames Work

Ceiva and the Computerless

This picture frame is designed to enable people with no computer, no digital camera and no computer skills to benefit from some aspects of the digital boom. The idea is that a person who does have a computer, a digital camera and computer skills buys the frame, sets up the account and passes it on.
How Digital Picture Frames Work
Once the account is set up, you (the person with the computer) upload photos to the Ceiva Web site. Each night, the digital picture frame (in the computerless person’s house) uses the phone line to connect to the Ceiva servers and download any new pictures.
The next morning, the new pictures automatically show up in the slideshow rotation. You can also control all of the frame’s settings via the Web site. Here are some of the settings that can be adjusted:

  • The time that the frame turns on and turns off
  • The slideshow interval (how long between photos)
  • The dial-up phone numbers (in case the frame moves to a different area code)

What’s in the Frame

The frame is actually a very simple computer. It has most of the same components as the computer on your desktop, but they’re a lot simpler in the frame because they only have to perform a single task.


The central processing unit (CPU) in the Ceiva digital picture frame is similar to the kind used in small, electronic handheld games. The most processor-intensive task performed by this CPU is downloading pictures from the Web site. The rest of the time, it doesn’t break a sweat.


The frame has some ROM memory to store the operating system. It also has some Flash memory, which is where the pictures, settings and some of the operating software live. Both types of memory are persistent — no data is lost if the unit is unplugged.


The frame has a 33.6-Kbps modem, which it uses to connect to the Internet and download the new photos you post.


The display is a 640×480-pixel, passive-matrix liquid crystal display (LCD) with a viewing area of about 5 by 7 inches (13 by 18 cm). This type of display is thin enough that the digital frame isn’t much thicker than an ordinary picture frame. The pictures are displayed in 12-bit color, which means that approximately 4,100 different colors can be presented on the screen.


The only user-operated controls on the frame are a black button, which adjusts the brightness of the display, and a white button that turns the frame on when the user first plugs it in and can also be used to manually dial in.

Operating System

The Ceiva frame uses an embedded operating system called PSOS. This operating system is designed for devices like PDAs, electrical-testing equipment and set-top boxes.
Let’s take a look at how the Ceiva frame works.
For more detail: How Digital Picture Frames Work

About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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