Video walls can make a big impression on a university campus, conveying an image of a school on the cutting edge of technology while providing ancillary benefits as teaching aids, wayfinding signage or more. These seven questions can guide a successful video wall installation plan:
- What goals does the university want to accomplish? Is the wall for digital signage, to show campus information or events, or for way-finding? Will it be used for classroom/lecture hall presentations, or as part of a visualization system for a STEM lab? Does it need to be touch interactive?
- What is the content strategy? The format of the content will determine what kind of hardware the video wall will need. What kinds of resolutions and file formats will be displayed? Who will manage and update the content (for example, is it someone who is well versed in tech, or someone who prefers plug-and-play)? Some display manufacturers offer expansion slots for Open Pluggable Specification plug-in computers or integrated computers to simplify ease of use, as well as to provide a way to seamlessly show content on a video wall.
- How long will it run each day/week? Commercial-grade displays are designed for long hours of use and can handle the most rugged applications and public environments–don’t confuse these monitors with the ones sold at local big-box electronics retailers. Commercial-grade products provide better reliability, features, inputs and color calibration capabilities, providing optimal brightness and uniformity across all screens in a wall.
- Where will it be mounted? Determining the wall’s purpose and goals (question No. 1) will help dictate where the video wall should be placed for optimal visibility and readability. Get a structural engineer involved to make sure that the floor, wall or ceiling can support a large video wall system. Also, note that display manufacturers typically require a spacing gap of 1 to 2 millimeters between each monitor.
- How big should it be? Content and purpose both determine how big a video wall should be. It is highly recommended that content match the screen’s native resolution. More complex and larger video walls can be designed with multi-head graphics cards, or can employ specialized content management software or external video wall processors to manipulate the content. All hardware components should match so there are no video bandwidth restrictions.
- How will it be kept cool? Large video walls produce a lot of heat, so proper cooling and ventilation need to be part of the overall project and budget. Displays that offer integrated cooling fans will ensure long operational life.
- Who will install it? Use an experienced AV systems integrator for the installation. A trained professional will accurately locate power sources and data jacks, and will do the job correctly the first time. Discuss a maintenance schedule with the systems integrator to clean or vacuum the vents of the video wall at least once per year to ensure proper operational temperature and help the system last. For more complex system designs, connect with a trusted display manufacturer.
A video wall can add an exciting new element to a university campus, and answering these seven questions can help ensure the installation goes smoothly.
Michael Ferrer is Director of Solutions Sales for NEC Display Solutions and a former systems integrator. He has served various roles at NEC Display over the last decade, helping clients address business challenges with display technologies. Ferrer can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit http://UBmag.me/nec.