Teachers have passed on information to their students in a visual manner since the chalkboard was invented in 1801 by a geography teacher in Scotland, who hung a piece of slate on the wall. Nothing much changed for over 200 years, until digital technologies exploded the possibilities. Today’s educational campuses use a myriad of digital devices to educate and inform an increasingly technologically-literate student body. Demand for digital signage and video walls is growing steadily, as schools are seeing how they add value to the experience.
Video walls are being used across school campuses for special announcements, to highlight students, faculty, donors, fundraisers and scholarships, for wayfinding (help getting around campus), menus in the cafeteria, for video classes to follow along with in fitness rooms, and emergency notifications. Schools are actively developing their own content with video, graphics, and feeds from social media sources. Touch-screen interactivity helps schools to engage and foster deeper connections with their visitors.
Video walls in auditorium-style classrooms replace digital whiteboards and projector systems and allow for instructor-led presentations and student collaboration. Instructors can use video walls for displaying scientific visualization, computer simulations, 3D geologic data, video conferencing with special speakers, etc., with multiple sources being displayed on the wall at the same time. Students can also use a section of the wall to display collaborative work on their laptops, by connecting their USB-port to one of several wireless routers in the classroom.
An example of video walls in use today,
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute (EMK Institute) on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, educates visitors about the U.S. Senate and its history. There are several video walls, including a “quote wall” made of five, 55-inch NEC displays, plus more located in the mock Senate chamber for content simulations, made of 60-inch Sharp monitors.
The Crisler Center, an indoor arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is part of University of Michigan, has 46-inch touch-screen displays with LED backlighting from Planar. Visitors can use them to check out game stats, purchase tickets, view interactive programs on the university’s games or historic past.
Texas Tech has the largest petroleum engineering program in the U.S. In February 2014, they launched the new Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building, a 42,000-square-foot facility with 23-foot wide by 5-foot high video walls in two auditorium-sized classrooms, which can be controlled from a remote terminal. The building resembles facilities where the students could end up working and allows the school to serve more students at once.
Indiana State University’s Scott College of Business built a finance lab that mimics trading floors like that of the New York Stock Exchange, with six clocks showing times in global financial capitols, an overhead ticker of market data, and two video walls, each a little over 9-feet diagonal, with one wall focusing on commodities, bonds and currencies (“broad markets”) and the other focusing on equities, student portfolios, and exchanges like NYSE and NASDAQ. The Student Advising Center also has a ‘video ribbon’ wall.
Cost-Effective Video Wall Installations
Installing a video wall can get challenging fast. The complexities of HDMI, HDCP, EDID, IR and RS-232 control signals, external audio support, as well as switching and routing of those signals, has historically required complex system designs with costly dedicated video wall processors, external KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) control, and CATx or fiber matrix switches.
Eclipse HD by Opticomm-EMCORE is a cost-efficient, high-quality solution that eliminates much of the complexity of a traditional video wall setup. It can merge the signals of two or more decoders in the GUI, eliminating the need for expensive video wall processors and software control applications.
This encoder/decoder system provides for visually lossless transmission, processing, switching and routing of HDMI 1.3, 5.1 channel audio, RS-232 data and USB 2.0 HID keyboard/mouse, over a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet network. Visually lossless and low latency output makes Eclipse a perfect solution for live content distribution to your video wall, such as a guest speaker on campus or live broadcast of your college’s game to the cafeteria.
Eclipse HD allows for connecting and switching any number of HD video sources, up to 1080p or 1920×1200, such as Blu-ray or DVD players, satellite receivers, laptops, cameras and cable boxes, along with audio, IR and RS-232 signals, to displays up to 100 meters (328 feet) away in a point-to-point configuration. Eclipse is an ideal solution for displaying Blu-ray content, as it allows HD content to be distributed with HDCP pass-through. It provides full cross-point matrix switching capabilities along with USB KVM support, for remote, interactive teaching sessions.
Eclipse HD Setup
The setup for the Eclipse is simple. The user connects one HD 1080p source to the HDMI input of one Eclipse encoder, as well as, keyboard/mouse, IR and RS-232, if required. RS-232 and IR allows you to control both sources and displays remotely over your IP network. The encoder produces an output that can be viewed on an HDMI display next to the source, for local monitoring, and also sends it over Ethernet/IP cabling to an Eclipse decoder.
Another nice feature of the Eclipse is that display power can be supplied over the CATx cable using POE Ethernet switches, eliminating the need for external power supplies. Additionally, third-party IP controller units can be simply and quickly integrated into the distribution system.
If you need to make connections to existing analog audio equipment, the Eclipse encoder supports uncompressed PCM 5.1 channel digital audio transport and decoder provides separate stereo audio de-embedding, which can then be sent through an audio processor.
If there are multiple video walls, a Gigabit Ethernet switch can distribute the IP stream to multiple Eclipse decoders on an IP network. Point-to-multipoint Eclipse systems can be extended hundreds of meters using copper or even longer distances by using fiber and stacking Ethernet switches. When the decoder receives the signal, it outputs as HDMI with de-embedded stereo audio, USB, IR and RS-232.