Installation Profile: NYC Inc.
Apr 14, 2009 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley
Smart screen technology greets global visitors at the Big Apple information center.
Wiring, Control, and Content
“I’m a big fan of AV over Cat-5,” Polly says, enumerating the various cabling for all of the systems.
Four strandsone each for audio, video, Ethernet, and serial controlare run in plenum and come to each AV point in the facility. One exception is the FireWire bus that runs fiber-optic cable from the cameras inside the GestureTek displays to the back of the house racks. Since signal strength limits the FireWire to a relatively short run, it’s converted to run on fiber-optical cabling with Gefen CAB-2LC-300 fiber-optic transceivers. (All of the high-resolution video is run to the displays using a Magenta Research UTR transmitter and receiver baluns.) The Cat-5 cables are terminated to a Hellermann Tyton 50-4405, 48-point, Cat-5 patch panel inside a 44-space Middle Atlantic MRK-4436 patch-bay rack. Baluns are also used to convert analog audio to run on the Cat-5 cable.
The video’s high resolution called for DVI and HDMI connectors, necessitating a handshake between the HDCP source and the display’s digital identification code. That would need to take place at every cycle, so Magenta Research baluns were used to essentially fool the display into sensing that a source was constantly engaged.
The control room is centered on a Crestron Pro 2 processor with Crestron’s C2ENET-2 dual-port Ethernet card and a CN-PWS75 power supply. The Crestron control’s RoomView software is programmed to run a system diagnostic check during each automated on/off cycle, can send malfunction alerts, and can be updated via an Internet connection.
Video content is stored on a server with two 160GB hard drives and 4GB of RAM. The large storage size was dictated by both the high-definition nature of the video and the interactivity features.
On another content note, in a city as densely packed with restaurants, shops, theaters, and other tourist destinations, some kind of hierarchical method had to be applied to determine which locations would show up onscreen. The solution is a proprietary search-engine-optimization algorithm, which is not surprising given Google’s involvement in the center.
The center’s technology complement is complex and edgy. VideoSonic has a two-year maintenance contract with NYC & Company for the systems. (NYC & Company is responsible for maintaining the databases and content.) Polly says he’s scheduling periodic routine maintenance visits to the site rather than waiting for an emergency call.
“Much of this is very new technology, and we don’t completely know what we’re up against yet,” he says. “There was no way to completely pretest all the components together.”
Budgeting for systems and components was also a challenge for the $1.8 million project, which is expected to host more than 100,000 visitors a year.
“The budgets for items such as touchscreen monitors, videowall monitors, audio system, and computers were tangible,” Polly says. “The tables were a challenge to budget given the little information I had related to the software and the parameters given for table size, image resolution, and duty were set [at a] high notch. GestureTek was able to provide us with a firm [quote] for the tables and also provide the technicians to set them up and get them on line.”
For a city whose mayor is Michael Bloomberg, a name synonymous with corporate communication (he also presided over the official opening in January), the New York City Information Center is exactly the kind of room you would want to walk into when visiting New York.
The New York City Information Center doubles as a variably configurable space for announcements or press conferences.
A podium is positioned near the videowall, offering a nice over-the-shoulder angle for custom video programs for corporate or political announcements and press conferences. Conference-application audio is provided by a Shure ULXP24/SM86 wireless microphone system and a wireless lavalier system using a Shure WL185 microphone and a ULX1 belt-pack transmitter. A MX418 podium microphone on a gooseneck was added to the podium as well. The audio from the podium and wireless systems have a splitter wired inside the podium that will let news crews tap directly into the audio feed from those systems. —D.D.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus