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The Emerging Issues Commons

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Clarity Matrix Video Wall is Interactive Platform for Civic Engagement on Public Policy Development

A nearly 130 square-foot wall of Planar's Clarity™ Matrix Video Wall displays has been installed at North Carolina State University, providing a one-of-a-kind interactive platform that enables public engagement on a wide range of public-policy issues and opportunities. The Clarity Matrix Video Wall, in a seven-wide-by-two-high (7 x 2) array, form The Connections Wall in the Emerging Issues Commons of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. It is a focal point specifically designed to attract visitor attention and allow citizens of North Carolina to become involved in the creation and implementation of policies that have impact and effect positive change statewide or in cities, counties and towns where they live and work.

Designed by Portland, Oregon-based Second Story, a part of SapientNitro, the Connections Wall is one of a number of digital media platforms deployed in the Commons. It consists of 14 Clarity Matrix MX55HD displays mounted edge-to-edge in portrait orientation, in a slightly curved manner designed to complement the architectural style of the space. The interactive wall combines a top row of displays intended to capture attention and encourage approachability, with a lower row that offers sophisticated, interactivity and engagement.

"The Connections Wall is very effective at engaging visitors in our state's biggest public policy challenges," says Dr. Patrick Cronin, Assistant Director for Policy and Programs, The Institute for Emerging Issues, North Carolina State University. "The Planar video wall acts like a beacon that invites you in to explore the issues and topics you most care about and in ways not possible with conventional walls."

Interactivity reveals emotive content, empowers civic conversation and action

In close collaboration with the Institute for Emerging Issues over a several year period, Second Story created a story-driven design for the Connections Wall. "The strategy was to create a dynamic interactive wall that brings real-time data to life through artful visualizations that present personal and emotive stories about how people are affected by policies and programs, and empower visitors to take action to advance the conversation and create desired outcomes," says Julie Beeler, CoFounder of Second Story.

The interactivity unfolds in several ways. The top row of Clarity Matrix displays depicts macro-level information that draws people in from a distance. As a person comes closer, camera-based sensors recognize his or her presence and will then reveal interactive touchpoints on any lower-row screen the person is facing. The Clarity Matrix Video Wall is configured with custom-designed touch functionality that affords pinpoint accuracy, the recognition of common gestures, touch by a single finger or an entire hand, and the prevention of false touch points.

Planar's ERO technology provides protection for touch-enabled screens

Complementing the touch capability is Planar's ERO™ optically-bonded glass that covers and protects the entire surface of the Connections Wall. "ERO is a fantastic and distinctive feature of Clarity Matrix," says Matt Arnold, Second Story's Lead Integration Engineer. "ERO provides a very high degree of protection for these displays on which tens of thousands of touches were recorded in just the first six months the video wall was operational." ERO also precluded the need for the extra layer of glass that other touch-enabled video walls typically require. "This kept down the overall weight of the video wall, which saved us from having to invest in more structure and mounting support. This design doesn't trap heat like other double-glass systems do and it mitigates reflections. So, having the ERO protection as part of each display is a huge win," Arnold says.

Clarity Matrix also surpassed other video walls, especially fiber optic-based systems which are more costly and time-consuming to install, and require fiber extenders to ensure consistent signal strength between the video wall and a remotely-located rack room, which in this case is nearly 350 feet away. "For the 14 Clarity Matrix displays, Planar provided all the cable we needed for this 350-foot run, without the need for any costly extenders. This made for faster, easier and cheaper installation, and will keep future maintenance and component replacement costs down as well," Arnold adds.

Other features and factors differentiate the Planar solution

Other features in the system's favor included its slim profile (less than 4" total mounting depth and 5.5mm tiled bezel width) which allowed for the curved installation; as well as its image quality (800-nit brightness and commercial-grade LCD panel with 50,000-hour backlight life). Further, its 1920 x 1080 resolution readily supports the high-resolution content requirement and when content goes through its planned cycling, Clarity Matrix's color processing matches the changes well.

"Finally, Planar excels in providing an out-of-the-box solution. All displays, electronics and components showed up in perfect working order and have performed flawlessly since day one. This is in stark contrast to other manufacturers' products which aren't designed, packaged and shipped as well, and don't come with the same high level of support that Planar provides," Arnold says.