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Christie MicroTiles Form Centerpiece of Student Forum at Clarkson University

Clarkson University, New York State’s highest-ranked small university, is using Christie® MicroTiles™ for a unique, digital display wall that is quickly becoming the hub of campus life.
With the concept developed by Christie partner Video Visions, Inc., the video wall is the centerpiece of the amphitheater in the school’s new Student Center, which opened in September 2010. Students voted to increase their own activity fees to help fund the center, and wanted to make it both welcoming and technologically advanced. The wall combines an array of 80 Christie MicroTiles arranged in a 10 wide by 8 high configuration, media servers, Crestron touch panel and 12 inputs (with expansion potential for 15), delivering a rich, vibrant audio/video experience that gives students information about campus events, sports feeds such as hockey games, live music from the campus radio station, and four HD television feeds. The installation is also used by students for video games, and is used to create interesting backdrops during live performances such as comedy nights or concerts.
“Our school is very technology-focused, so it was important for us to have state-of-the-art multimedia,? said Kevin Lynch, chief information officer at Clarkson. “We’re especially pleased that our design students can use the wall as a canvas for their own work. It gives them a learning experience on the latest in digital display technology. It’s also easy enough to program, so that anyone with good laptop skills can do it.?
Lynch said that when he and the IT team first reviewed all the available options, he was pleasantly surprised by the overall cost competitiveness of a Christie MicroTiles installation. “Upon factoring in the lower maintenance costs, greater longevity, and the fact that you can replace individual modules without scrapping the whole system, the total cost of ownership made MicroTiles the best option over competing proposals. Christie MicroTiles are also much more environmentally-friendly than most of the alternatives.?
The installation begins on the main floor of the amphitheater, and rises upward. It is easily seen throughout the center, including from some opera-style boxes at the side. Students check the Christie MicroTiles video wall regularly as they walk from one class to the next, and officials sometimes joke that the content is so compelling it’s hard to get people back to their work or studies.
“The modern, open concept structure has a lot of ambient light, which would have created glare if other digital display systems had been used,? said Ted Manahan, director of sales and engineering at Video Visions Inc. “You can’t beat MicroTiles when you have high ambient light.?
The major challenge was installing during construction. “The installation backs onto a solid wall, so there is no rear access. This isn’t a maintenance problem, since MicroTiles can be maintained from the front, but it did mean the wiring and signals had to be carefully planned and tested for each tile as we went along, since there is no second chance. We had no problems,? said Manahan.
In all, the installation was completed in just six working days. Students and staff alike are very pleased with the adaptability of the wall. It was featured at the dedication play of the facility with a multi-media video and live stage performance about the founding years of the University. Segments from the late 19th and early 20th century were in black and white, while content that is more modern was in color. The color and contrast were of exceptional and consistent quality throughout. The University has been showcasing a variety of student-oriented work, including a student artwork display on the wall at the next graduation ceremony and serving as a “Watson? site for IBM’s Jeopardy Challenge.

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May 2011
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