How do you stand out in a city known for spectacles? The University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV) took a gamble on a concave LED media wall for its new Hospitality Hall—with winning results.
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UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality attracts students from around the globe for its best-in-class programs. The new hall for such a distinguished institution, now open to the public, had to be sensational.
“We wanted a ‘wow factor’ with this new hall,” said UNLV’s Frank D. Alaimo, AV systems specialist, CTS-I, DMC-E-4K. “You can’t plan a hospitality building for these amazing students who will be working in Las Vegas facilities and not have something that is on par with what the casinos offer.”
Hospitality Hall’s attention to detail is notable. From AV-equipped classrooms to the finest flooring and finishes, the entire building is high end.
Keven J. Yue, senior sales manager, Western United States at Datapath and provider of the Fx4 wall controller used on this unique project, sees how the new AV supports school’s mission as a hospitality leader. “They were building a new state-of-the-art building for their world-class hospitality department,” Yue said, “and they wanted to have something dazzling in the front area.”
The new media wall—uniquely shaped and installed a tricky corner—had to be big, dynamic, and sunlight-readable, “because of the ambient light in the lobby, with many two-or three-stories-high windows,” Yue said. “They wanted something absolutely astounding.”
SIGNAGE THAT BRINGS THE SIZZLE
The new media wall is a statement piece and so much more. The 2.5mm pixel-pitch NanoLumens Nixel LED concave display is a knockout. Weighing around 600 pounds, and measuring 16.5 feet by 5.4 feet, this wall is an eye-catcher even though installed in the corner of the hall’s vestibule. The pixel pitch and vivid 4K resolution imbue the screens with a truly immersive quality. Used in concert with NanoLumens’ proprietary AWARE software platform, the media wall was installed by National Technology Associates.
The UNLV technology team knew this curved digital signage application would be a surefire way to add sizzle to the building’s grand lobby. 12-bit throughput ensures vibrant colors, and 4K resolution adds extra pop. At 800 nits, the wall is extremely bright, even with massive windows and the blazing Vegas sun. Even on its low-power settings, the wall is easily viewable and readable.
QUICK CONTENT UPDATES
This media wall is a hub of up-to-the-minute department information, cultural offerings on campus, video streams, and community news, with quick and easy content updating thanks to the NanoLumens AWARE platform. As a hardware-enabled, software-as-a-service platform, AWARE aggregates real-time diagnostics and integrates apps, services, and myriad content sources.
“As long as I always have the internet, I can log into their software and make content changes on the fly,” said Trevor Brown, assistant director of technology operations at UNLV. “Once I update and save the playlist that I am working on, it will be on that screen within two to three seconds.”
CUSTOM AUDIO FOR A WONDER WALL
James Loudspeaker was chosen for the custom audio component of the media wall application, according to Brown. “The special loudspeaker was built for the specific shape and size of the wall. The James Loudspeaker team worked with NanoLumens’ engineers; they developed the speakers off site.
NanoLumens custom-built the mounting points for the soundbar and matched it with the speaker enclosure for a completely seamless look and feel. “When they got to NanoLumens’ warehouse, they bolted it up and it matched perfectly. James Loudspeaker really knocked it out of the park,” Brown added.
LED: THE RIGHT (AND BRIGHTEST) CHOICE
While there is diversity in the product category, depending on size and feature sets, the prices for LEDs have (generally) decreased as this technology becomes more commonplace in the market. Now established as a viable alternative to traditional video walls, LED’s growing accessibility has attracted the attention of integrators and technology managers.
With media walls, customer support and service are also important. NanoLumens offers a six-year warranty, and it has a facility located in Las Vegas, conveniences appreciated by Brown. “They have a Visualization Center with sales and technical teams so if we need something, they’re here on site. That was a huge selling point for that wall, in particular.”
Moving forward, Brown said that he has several projects in rooms in which he would normally use projectors or large monitors. But now: “I’m trying to lean toward LED. It’s a little bit of a hard pill to swallow up front with the larger cost, but your ROI works—there are no projector screens to worry about. No lamps to change. No having to worry about multiple inputs and outputs and extra points of failure. It’s a lot easier to deal with from a technical standpoint.”
Brown noted that he will still have to “make the case” with the architects, engineers, and budget leaders of the new rooms; but, reflecting broader industry trends, LED is certainly a bright and energized segment in the display world.
Frank Alaimo agreed that LED is compelling, particularly for immersive content experiences. “We were the first ones on campus to do an LED wall,” he said. “If you get the right aspect ratio with your LED wall, you can put so many content boxes on there.”
IMPRESSIVE WALL CONTROLLER
Datapath Fx4, a standalone, multi-faceted display controller, is at the heart of this curved digital signage stunner. The AV technology team wanted a solution that could be easily scalable. The NanoLumens media player connects to the Datapath Fx4, and whatever it is fed, the Fx4 will scale and push it to the wall. “The Fx4 doesn’t care what it’s being fed,” Yue said. “They have that latitude and flexibility to give the Fx4 anything they want. The Fx4 is a tried and trusted, award-winning workhorse. It functions to process and scale whatever it’s told to do.”
For their first time using the Datapath Fx4, Alaimo and Brown were impressed with the ease of use and quality. “Because our wall is 4K, the Datapath Fx4 box is, in essence, acting like a pass through to get the content out to the wall. That is important as we have an unusually sized wall. It’s impressive: I can connect a PC to the AWARE product quickly, and even without a 4K card—it’s a standard, integrated video card—when we pump it out to wall, the 4K was clear as a bell.”
For Alaimo, not only is this technology important to raise the bar of excellence for UNLV, it’s an important tool for engaging instructors. “Teachers are advocates for us. They use the touchpanels, for example, and the way that they interact with the technology influences how the students learn the technology.” He added that standardizing across the building is a major priority going forward.
Even for a school with the cachet of UNLV, technological purchases need to support the organizational mission and provide return on investment. This AV installation checks those boxes and more.
Frank Alaimo said that one of the applications they are most excited about with this concave LED media wall is celebrating UNLV alumni. “It’s the ideal way to share their stories,” he said, “particularly their success stories on where they have gone since they left us, what properties they’re running. We can show the companies they’ve started. It’s all about putting a spotlight on them.”
The Hospitality College hosts frequent tours, Alaimo added. Visitors arrive on campus from every corner of the casino industry, and the world, to view the new building. When VIPs or notable attendees are on site, the technology team can easily place their company logos on the curved LED wall.
“We can quickly add their logo with a ‘Welcome’ on the screen,” Alaimo said. “The fact that Trevor can update content so quickly and we can do this on the fly—it is super. We can make it personable for visitors and make them feel special. They offer personal touches at the casinos, and we do the same thing here.”
The influence of this dynamic LED media wall is sure to extend far beyond its installed location, inspiring the UNLV community and greater hospitality industry.
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA LAS VEGAS