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University Digital Signage Installs with Rise Display, Part 1

Oct 25, 2011 12:32 PM, with Bennett Liles

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That's an interesting mix of a digital signage application and sort of a classroom environment. You're using what, an RT-Com HS-88M matrix switcher with that?

Correct, they picked that because it was economically priced. It did give them what they needed in terms of eight HDMI inputs as well as outputs so it was a good fit for this application. [Timestamp: 6:01]

OK, so you're going all HDMI with this and HDMI can be in itself a bit of a challenge and if everything isn't pretty much perfect with EDID and HDCP issues, but if you do everything that the signal wants you to do, everything can look spectacular and this is a brand-new one and they should be fairly well satisfied with it.

Yeah it's only been in a few weeks, but thus far the key was everything's digital and everything's running at full 1080p and 1820x1080 so that's the main reason we went HDMI. A state-of-the-art room using the latest and greatest technology. There's always some hiccups and challenges when you're working in all that but happy to say we worked through it pretty quickly with them. [Timestamp: 6:44]

Now where's the switcher located? Is it out there where somebody can operate it directly or is it back in a secure room somewhere so it can be controlled remotely with a separate control system?

Yeah, there's a rack that, if you want to call it the head end where all the equipment—the tuners and the engines and control equipment—is stored securely, but everything from the touchscreen side of things is out there for the professors to operate right from the podium. So we tried to put the complexity secured in the back room and make it as simple and straight forward as possible via that touchpanel in the front podium there. [Timestamp: 7:17]

I noticed you've also got what appear to be 15in. analog clocks there for sort of a retro look. It's a very interesting mix between all the digital displays and the analog clocks. Was that sort of the idea they were going for on the look of it?

Absolutely, the nice thing with the analog clocks is they provided that traditional component to contrast all the technology in the room. We certainly could have used digital LED clocks but with all the video walls and the stock ticker wrapping the room it was nice to have that touch of the old world or the traditional in the analog clock. [Timestamp: 7:51]

It does give a very interesting contrast between all of the squared corners of the rectangular digital displays and the round lines of the analog wall clocks. You also put in a 136ft. stock ticker that wraps completely around the room. How did you assemble that and fix it to the wall and power all of that?

I think of the ticker kind of like train tracks—we ship it in 6-8ft.-long sections so that it's easy to transport, easy to install, but then they snap together as you hang them on the wall. So in terms of the connectivity: on the far right-hand side is where you apply power and signal and then that's carried down the ticker by interconnecting cables as you snap it together. There's only the one network connection on the far right hand side and from a power standpoint there's a power outlet about every 25ft. for providing power to the ticker itself. [Timestamp: 8:42]

Well, in that room you're totally surrounded by all the latest financial news and stock prices. Of course in the beginning you had to work with the client in the creative design for this. I'm not sure how far creative design goes as far as a ticker but you've got to decide where and how big and all that. We're they really into having it wrap all the way around the room?

Absolutely, the key to them was: make it a showpiece, surround the students with live data. So we wrapped the ticker around. As part of the design working with them and talking about the creative design aspect of it there's not a lot of content, you really just plug in market data and it constantly flows and it's constantly feeding the latest and greatest, but from an architectural design standpoint it was one of the fun components of the room because we got to really work with them and figure out how can we use technology to create an energetic atmosphere. [Timestamp: 9:35]

And of course there is a software application involved in this. Tell me about the software side of the project.

We used the Open Source Platform from our sister company Rise Vision. It's built off of the Google app engine so it allows us to take the Open Source documentation and then create custom gadgets to create our clients' needs. So for SMU we utilized gadgets that we created to take live market data and headline news from Thomson Reuters and then format it for the professors to easily reference the current market activities as they're in a class. The beauty of this system is there's no servers to manage, there's no complexity—it all resides in the clouds. So we really just have to deal with the media player or the engine that's connected in each one of those video walls or those displays they go out across their internet or their network, grab all that live data and the instructions of what those displays are supposed to be playing. [Timestamp: 10:25]

OK, a brand-new installation at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University by Rise Display and Ryan thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about this one.

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