Electrosonic Installs Versatile AV Technology at the University of Salford’s New MediaCityUK Development

London (March 27, 2012) – When the University of Salford opened its state-of-the-art digital learning, teaching and research space at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, it incorporated a flexible audio-visual system that can be customised and utilised in a number of creative ways to inform, educate and entertain students and visitors about the University’s current and future projects.

The original technical design was prepared by The Centre for Virtual Environments at the University of Salford, and Electrosonic was awarded the contract to engineer and install the complete system, working directly for the University.

MediaCityUK, which is home to over 1,500 students, acts as a creative space designed to encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration between academics, students, professionals and the industry.

The new entrance area of the building is an elliptical space aptly called the Egg, and is described as “a publicly accessible digital interactive showcase for visitors and students alike”. This open public place, designed to support MediaCityUK’s ethos of collaboration, includes a formal presentation space, ten 40-inch interactive touch tables, and the uniquely configurable Christie MicroTiles display wall.

The Christie MicroTiles display wall is composed of 120 separate digital screens, and has the ability to display 120 separate images across the screens or one single large image at an ultra-high resolution of 9600×3840. The wall also has the capability to be used as an interactive medium by utilising three Microsoft Kinect sensors attached to the wall, enabling the content and software to be dictated by movement.

“The Egg is in many ways a shop window for the entire building to show off student and academic work and research,” said Professor Brian Longhurst, the University of Salford’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Media and Digital Futures. “It also provides a space for outside organisations to gather and collaborate, and highlights the cutting edge technology we are working with in the building.”

Flexibility is a prominent feature of the wall; the display area, location and configuration of the screens can be changed in accordance with the unique requirements of each project being displayed. To ensure the screens could be customised to complement the content, Electrosonic employed technologies that were both physically and functionally flexible to change with relative ease along with the environment. For example, the video wall was initially installed as a 15×8 array; however, in the future the screens may be redeployed to achieve project-specific layouts, such as 12×10 or 20×6.

The University required the video display wall to be free-standing on the raised floor and not require any structural fixings to the building. This necessitated the design and construction of a suitable support frame, and here Electrosonic enlisted the services of Long & Co. of Dartford to do the structural engineering.

Behind the video wall is an enclosed area that can be used for presentations, meetings and research projects. The room layout can be changed, except for the permanently installed large front projection screen that is served by a Christie DHD800 projector. This projector can display images from any compatible source device in the control room, or from a presenter’s local computer.

The ten 40-inch interactive touch tables with multi-touch infrared sensors encourage students and visitors to engage with the university and catch up with the latest news and events through a variety of applications including games and web pages. Here Electrosonic was required to deliver working systems complete with initial content. The interactive software was produced under subcontract by Stardotstar, a Manchester-based content producer. Like the customisable nature of the display wall, future applications for these tables may feature interactive touch content produced specifically by MediaCityUK’s own researchers.

A flexible audio system is installed in both the Egg and the presentation space. The equipment has the ability to be relocated or augmented for different projects. In addition, three HSS powered directional loudspeakers are provided for the experiential area in front of the video wall.

Equipped with the current AV technology provided by Electrosonic, the Egg has the ability to transform, grow and hatch into a number of flexible presentation layouts and uses. Electrosonic continues to support the University with a two-year service contract, including preventative maintenance visits, an 8-hour call out response time and telephone support.

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