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Installation Profile: AV Rx

Dec 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By John W. DeWitt

Two labs exemplify the latest technology-driven transformations in the world of healthcare education.

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In the smaller pharmacy laboratory, there were no challenging room configurations to contend with; all control occurs from one central instructor's podium. However, unique pharmacy teaching requirements, combined with the room's layout, created other challenges for AVI-SPL to overcome.

“Students are in closed-off desks, facing two directions with the ability to move around, and there are structural poles in the room,” Hanley says. “The trick here was giving all students a good vantage point on what the instructor is doing. Students are training on the making and mixing of pharmaceuticals, so we had to capture the instructors working with the tools of their trade.”

In a traditional pharmacy-lab setting, a group of students might cluster around an instructor to watch. In NEOUCOM's state-of-the-art facility, AV systems bring the instructor and his or her detailed actions right to each student. “Instead of having all students wrap around the instructor, we use a camera mounted above the instructor station to show close-up handwork,” Hanley says. The standard-definition Canon VC-C50iR PTZ camera was chosen in particular because of its microdrive, which dynamically adjusts the image according to the zoom level to allow smooth close-up focusing without jerky movement.

As with the multidisciplinary lab, the instructor controls the lab's AV system, including the microdrive camera, via a 15in. Elo TouchSystems IntelliTouch touchpanel and an AMX NXP-TPI/4 touchpanel interface. The instructor can save particular camera configurations or use a series of presets that can be changed on the fly. A second SD camera, a Sony EVI-D70, picks up the larger image of the instructor. Both camera images or any combination of camera view plus a presentation slide or other electronic content can be displayed side by side or picture in picture as the instructor desires.

“The operator's learning curve is small because of the way we lay out the system,” Hanley says. “For example, it's easy for the instructor to look at the touchscreen, see what video sources exist for each window, select the sources, and, once configured, preview what will be displayed before sending it out to the room.”

Visual content is displayed on four 6ft. Draper Silhouette drop-down screens lit by four Mitsubishi XL5900LU 4000-lumen XGA LCD projectors. The room also includes one 3M Digital Wall Displays Plus Series 9200IC.

“Initially the pharmacy lab was designed for one interactive wall board and one projector in the ceiling, but we had to redesign it,” McGrady says. “Some students are facing the back of the room as they are working on prescriptions, so we had to install three additional projection units. We used drop-down screens from the ceiling so we didn't have to block the windows all the time.”

A single, 4'×4' equipment room houses multiple Middle Atlantic equipment racks and other equipment to support both laboratories. A separate Extron CrossPoint Ultra 1616 HVA 16×16 ultra-wideband matrix switcher handles AV routing for the pharmacy lab. Hanley estimates the entire project used more than 10,000ft. of Liberty Wire & CableRGB-HV cabling. To ensure high signal quality on long cable runs, a total of 33 Extron RGB192V and CIA114 PC interfaces were used for every computer connection.


From purchase order to completion, AVI-SPL spent nearly four months on its latest NEOUCOM installation. The company spent about two months in design, a month on programming, and a month onsite for the installation. According to McGrady, there were only minimal technical glitches; faculty and students have readily adopted the AV systems.

“The interaction between instructor and student has been phenomenal,” he says. “I have been to classes and seen groups of students in front of the wall boards highlighting content. I think that everybody has utilized the spaces the way we hoped they would.

“One thing I would highlight is the touchpanel interface. It is not a canned solution. Eric Hanley built an interface that's personalized for NEOUCOM, and it's used in all of our teaching spaces, so instructors don't feel like they're using something different. Faculty and staff are at times intimidated by technology, so the user interface has been the key to success. I think the built-in video-streaming capability, so that instructors can record their presentations, is also a critical component for students.”

Just as digital wall displays superseded chalkboards and whiteboards, the venerable corkboards have been supplanted by digital signage in the gathering area outside the two laboratories. AVI-SPL wrapped up the integration project by installing two 40in. Samsung 400PX WXGA LCD monitors powered by a MagicBox Aavelin AV400P HD/P digital-signage server.

John W. DeWitt, editor of SVC's Digital Signage Update enewsletter, is a marketing consultant and business writer based in New Salem, Mass. He can be reached at or

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