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Connected Care

The Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) is truly a unique venue with a big mission: to change the way the health care industry conducts business by harnessing technology. To do so, the CCM has a roster of big names from the AV and IT worlds on its side, including founding partners University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), IBM, Alcatel Lucent, and Cerner; and strategic partners dbMotion, Google, Johnson Controls, Polycom, Research in Motion, and Turner Healthcare.

Melding AV technology and architecture was a crucial part of the Center for Connected Medicine's design, especially considering the building.

Melding AV technology and architecture was a crucial part of the Center for Connected Medicine's design, especially considering the building.

Credit: The Sextant Group

Experiencing MultiTouch

The heart of the center is the Experience Stage, housed in a half-circle with walkways on either side that lead to conference and meeting rooms. Once inside, another dual Perceptive Pixel display allows guests to interact as if they were using a large interactive kiosk. Gillis notes that multitouch screens were used on purpose so the experience remains interactive throughout. Smaller presentation stations, six in total, consist of Panasonic TH-42PH1 plasmas that are used as touch panels to run each portion of the presentation using a connected PC, keyboard, and mouse.

Eight rigid but moveable projection surfaces and various flooring materials help direct guests through the interior space, where the presentation flow was modeled after virtual reality experiences often seen at theme parks.

"The use of AV is traditional but not in such a large amount and density," Gillis says. "Visitors start at one location and walk to the Experience Stage where projected images and videos comprise the multiple presentation modules."

Melding AV technology and architecture was a crucial part of the Center for Connected Medicine's design, especially considering the building.Photo: Courtesy The Sextant Group

The 12-foot-wide projection surfaces are mounted on rigid frames attached to rollers on tracks overhead. The Experience Stage is meant to be highly configurable, although the walls do not move during a presentation. When conceptualizing the space, TDA consulted with ThoughtForm so that the malleable area would work with its content.

For maximum convenience, most of the Experience Stage is on a 3-inch raised floor platform so any rewiring can be done easily. Floor boxes are laid out in a grid pattern, which was a challenge because of the shallow floor.

"Geiger has similar boxes meant for tables so they were not as deep. We used them as floor boxes with custom brushed aluminum covers that are strong enough to handle foot traffic and furniture reconfiguration," says Greene. "With a little work, the space can be transformed into many functions."

Above, the Unistrut grid is also a flexible area where 12 Toshiba TDP-EX20U 2300 ANSI lumens DLP projectors and 15 Panasonic PT-DW5100U 5500 ANSI lumens DLP projectors are mounted. The grid was necessary because the building was built in 1970 using fluid-filled beams that were impossible to attach to or drill through. The low ceiling height, grid depth, and the height of the projection surfaces mean that the main Panasonic projectors are shooting from 18 feet away.

Picture in Picture

Each Panasonic DLP projector is paired with a Toshiba DLP projector, mounted 18 inches away from the screen that adds picture-in-picture (PIP). "We chose to use a hardware solution for the PIP, rather than a software solution, to get the highest resolution possible," Gillis says. "This method of blocking out pixels in one image and filling it in with another wouldn't work with anything other than DLP technology."

Senior engineer Brendan Dillon and company president Paul Fussner of SoundCom say the biggest challenge was the projector grid. "Some are firing toward each other and some are overlapping for picture-in-picture, so it took a high degree of project management to get it perfect," says Dillon.

Each presentation area in the Experience Stage has a small directional audio system composed of OWI Model 203 loudspeakers powered by a Crestron QM-AMP 3x80SR power amplifier. Gillis notes that a distributed system wasn't necessary since the flow is designed for the group to move from one area to another.

In the meeting rooms surrounding the Experience Stage, TDA proposed moveable glass walls to act as room dividers that would double as a writing surface. "There is an etched grid pattern laminated inside each glass panel," Greene says. "It's designed so that you can brainstorm on the walls with dry erase marker during a meeting, or can open both glass walls for a larger gathering."

Telepresence is a flexible feature throughout the center through the use of new Polycom Practitioner Carts HDX. The carts, which resemble the type of medical equipment carts doctors are used to, offer full HD resolution including 1080p and 720p at 30 frames per second (fps), and broadcast quality 720p at 60 fps. They're even designed to interoperate with medical devices, allowing health care professionals to share high-resolution images in real-time, coupled with patient data from peripherals such as in-band stethoscopes.

A Unique Space

The fit and finish of the space, with its fresh California influence and natural materials, result in a modern and clean look that is a departure from the clinical atmosphere in similar places. Greene says she is most proud of how everything came together. "During the process, it's all parts and pieces, but once the space is complete one can see the flow and function of the design."

Gillis thinks the attention to integration details such as equipment racks hidden in case work, projectors on lifts, and mill work framing each display is what makes this complex project stand out even more. Most impressive, the project moved from concept to installation in 14 months. "The bulk of the team has worked on half a dozen large projects together," Gilllis says. "So it was an easy working relationship."

Linda Seid Frembes is a freelance AV writer and contributing editor to Pro AV.

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