INTERACTIVE DESIGN AGENCY CREATES OPTIMIZED VISUAL EXPERIENCE FOR MULTI-LAYERED VIDEO WALL
How do you create an interactive experience for multiple simultaneous users at a busy trade show? How do you create an intuitive experience that users could engage with easily and without training? How do you create interactivity on a large video wall that looked more like sculpture than a display?
Those were just some of the challenges given to the Seattle interactive design and user experience agency, IdentityMine, when Planar started planning for InfoComm 2013, a leading trade show in the audio/video market. The design of the Planar® Mosaic™ architectural video wall had been preset. It was going to consist of multiple video tile sizes and shapes, oriented in a design that called for overlapping and rotated displays, measuring over 16 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The internal processing of the Planar Mosaic system would ensure that each panel received and displayed the right pixels in real-time, but the challenge of adding interactivity loomed.
THE IMPACT OF SCALE
The focal wall was constructed of panels from Planar's award-winning Planar Mosaic video wall product: five (5) square Salvador video tiles eight (8) 46" Pablo tiles and two (2) 55" Vincent panels. Once installed, the Planar Mosaic array measured a massive 16 feet across and towered well over 9 feet high. Notably, the entire array of video display was driven off a single PC with an NVIDIA video card supporting 4k resolution native output. This helped reduce scaling artifacts across the wall.
Even the control PC had a big and beautiful display interface. The Planar® Helium™ display was used as the touch control kiosk with a 27" diagonal screen measurement and featured 1920x1080 resolution (1080p), making for a stunning replication of the wall. Its multi-touch capabilities are fully compatible with Windows® 7 and 8 from Microsoft and is now available in 22" and 24" sizes as well. The monitor also features an embedded camera, while unused in this application, is an area of potential enhancement in the future: capturing the faces and reaction from users and putting those on the wall in real-time, as well.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERACTIVITY
"In our product line-up, we typically add interactive capabilities with the addition of touch screen sensor. But [with] many of the panels in this particular Planar Mosaic design couldn't be reached and being that close to the wall ruined some of the sculptural effect for which we were striving. We had to do something different." Planar Product Manager, Peter Lawrence, remarked as he recalled some of the challenges his team faced in producing such a (large, massive, grand) installment.
IdentityMine has years of experience in building and creating interactive solutions and suggested a second screen control. It could have been built to be mobile or tablet controlled, but in this case, Planar utilized another touch product in their line-up, the Planar® Helium™ 27" multi-touch monitor, to provide the control station for the wall. This display was large enough for multiple users to gather around and watch one another manipulate the interface, without distracting from or blocking the focal point, which was the Mosaic wall itself.
The application was designed around a water-themed amusement park as an homage to the tradeshow's Orlando, Florida location. The user could select "Exhibits," "Attractions," and "Dining" to access corresponding sets of visual assets. Those images, silhouettes, and video clips could then be manipulated on the control screen with the touch of a finger. The result was that those touch points were simultaneously brought to life on the large Planar Mosaic wall. If a user moved a jelly fish to the right, it was moved on the wall. If a user rearranged the order of the roller coaster movies to design their own ride, the wall would reflect those choices.
THE SIMPLICITY OF THE DESIGN
The Planar Mosaic array at InfoComm 2013 was made up of multiple panels across a wide span. Yet, the entire wall was fed with a single DisplayPort, simply daisy-chained on the wall. The entire wall was powered with two (2) off-board power supply units, in keeping with the innovative Planar Mosaic architecture, and low-voltage power was chained between the displays on the wall. This structure minimizes the end-to-end runs, while continuing to keep sources of heat, weight, noise, and failure (like power supplies and media players or PCs) off the wall in an easy to maintain location.
"For those unfamiliar with Planar's video wall products, the architecture of Planar Mosaic can be pleasantly surprising," Lawrence summarized. "Often the client is already picturing the cabling and alignment nightmares that might occur if one sought to create an interesting array of standard monitors. The system is very unique and solves the design and installation problems before they start."