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There is a memorable scene in the 1980s movie, Big, in which the two leading actors dance out the song, 'Heart and Soul' on a life-size piano keyboard. That scene may have inspired the IT solutions and services firm, ProMission Projects, which recently built a video wall in the form of a life-size laptop computer that a number of its customers use today to introduce products and services. To give its laptop a suitable screen, ProMission turned to Planar Systems for a nine-panel array (3x3) of its Clarity™ Matrix MultiTouch LCD Video Wall. This video wall supports a series of custom applications developed by ProMission, and has been a significant business-builder for the company.

"We could not have imagined the impact this solution would make and the new business opportunities it is generating," says Michael Haberkorn, Account Manager for ProMission. "Much of its success owes to the attributes of the Clarity MultiTouch Video Wall including its unmatched style and visual performance and the superior touch experience it provides for our customers—they simply love it."

An innovative application platform

The laptop consists of a 10 foot-wide-by-5 foot-high keyboard integrated with the Clarity Matrix MultiTouch. The applications ProMission developed for the video wall have enabled it to be used as a technology platform for launching a major product, celebrating a particular accomplishment or milestone, for live video conferencing and much more.

ProMission also has developed applications where only the LCD panels within the Clarity Matrix MultiTouch Video Wall are used in a conventional video wall installation. Typical of these is a retail photo developing counter where customers bring in their digital camera memory cards, display all their images on the video wall and then select those they wish to have printed. "In this application – but with the laptop version as well – two important Clarity Matrix MultiTouch Video Wall features come into play," Haberkorn says. "First, the Clarity Matrix MultiTouch has the thinnest image-to-image gap of any product of its type on the market, resulting in the entire video wall looking as if it is virtually one screen."

Second, the very thin gap between LCD displays with the video wall (approximately 5.5mm) enhances the appeal of the video wall, Haberkorn says because it creates a surface that is almost perfectly flat. Also, the Clarity Martrix MultiTouch Video Wall features Planar's ERO™ (Extended Ruggedness and Optics) technology. "This is a sheet of bonded glass covering the entire video wall which protects the display and adds to the smoothness customers want," he adds.

Further, the video wall is engineered with a surrounding touch sensor frame that is equipped with up to 32 touch points. These are accessible to a single user or multiple users simultaneously. "The experience is pin-point accurate, and one person's touch never affects or interferes with the touch of another user," says Haberkorn.

Clarity Matrix MultiTouch features directly benefit the systems integrator

Several other Clarity Matrix MultiTouch features are important to almost any systems integrator, Haberkorn says. The first of these is the weight of a display panel. At 65 lbs. (29 kg) including the ERO and mount, Clarity Matrix MultiTouch LCD displays are among the lightest available today. "Our customers ship these video walls around the country and worldwide all the time. The difference in weight – compared to virtually every other manufacturer's panel – adds up to savings of thousands of dollars in shipping costs. That number flows to the customer's bottom line and it makes our solution more attractive as well."

The second important Clarity Matrix MultiTouch feature is its off-board electronics design. "Allowing power supplies, controllers and other components to be remotely located was critical because it removed heat-inducing elements which could shorten panel life. Also, it is key to our laptop version because it enabled us to cap the video wall so it looks like the real thing," Haberkorn says.

Planar's personal support is unique

Lastly, Haberkorn gives kudos to Planar for the manner in which it delivers customer support; notably, that it always provides ProMission with direct access to a live support person whenever needed—which is not the case with other manufacturers. "For example, it's not uncommon for our customers to need personal support in shipping their video wall overseas. If there's no one to help them solve it, they could miss a shipping deadline and incur customs storage costs of thousands of dollars per day. With Planar, someone is always available to help so these delays and unnecessary costs are avoided. That's customer service done the right way."