Kean University, a public university in Union and Hillside, New Jersey, known for its programs in the humanities and social sciences, recently unveiled the Visualization and Immersive Studio for Education and Research in the Nancy Thompson Library Learning Commons on its Union campus.
The interdisciplinary space can be used for interactive and collaborative teaching and learning, data visualization and analysis, technology-rich presentations, and immersive computing. Built to serve the Kean community, the studio benefits students and faculty from all majors and programs, including computer science, physical therapy, history, criminal justice, design and architecture. Administrators and staff can also perform data analysis and visualize data to support studies in the space.
Kean’s new data visualization and immersive computing studio is powered by an Analog Way (opens in new tab) Aquilon C+ modular and scalable 4K/8K multiscreen presentation system and video wall processor. The university collaborated with integrator AVI-SPL, which designed, built, and installed the studio.
“The new studio will play an important role in enhancing research possibilities at the university,” said Muhummad Hassan, director of digital information resources at The Learning Commons. He saw an immersive studio at North Carolina State University, which helped in conceptualizing Kean’s studio. Hassan took the new studio to the next level by outfitting the space with high-performance equipment.
The studio’s 270° experience features big screens spanning three walls. Ten laser projectors display a seamless image across the canvas while an Analog Way Aquilon C+ drives the images and a media player plays back custom content.
“The Aquilon C+ offers a lot of horsepower and is very user friendly,” said Seth Teates, Analog Way’s regional sales manager. “It can go full resolution across the studio’s entire canvas—a total pixel space of 22,262 x 1600—and perform full 4K scaling for auxiliary sources like a laptop or set-top box.”
“The media player feeds the Aquilon with two 4K feeds for the left screen, three for the center and two more for the right,” Teates explained. “We take the media player’s feeds, crop them, and position them on the canvas pixel-for-pixel to create the edge-blended backgrounds across the screens.”
Integrator AVI-SPL designed, built, and installed the studio. “We needed a system with ten inputs, and AVI-SPL told us about Analog Way,” said Hassan. “They staged a demo in their Lyndhurst office, mocking up a studio with 98-inch monitors. We could see that Aquilon was the right choice, and from day one it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with and very easy to use.”
“We designed Kean’s studio to be a blank canvas, a very versatile space capable of displaying presentations, being immersive, and acting as an event space and experience center,” said Yossi Solomon, education market manager at AVI-SPL. “Analog Way’s Aquilon was a good fit for its reliability and resolution capabilities. It’s tried and true in mission-critical applications and offers more than enough processing power for the future.”
Aquilon Goes to Work
Hassan and his assistant director quickly put the new studio to use, livestreaming Kean’s inaugural Open Educational Resources (OER) Conference March 29–30 to more than 1,000 participants worldwide. The conference focuses on transforming and empowering learning communities through high-impact educational content and practices to advance equity, access, and inclusion for all.
“Thanks to Aquilon, we were able to display eight layers on each of the three screens from iPads, laptops, table computers and more,” Hassan said. “And we could change backdrops for each presenter for a very customized look.”
A busy April followed, with projects including a virtual meeting featuring the university’s president and members of the faculty senate, plus two gallery-style shows. “We’re hosting the top ten undergraduate research presentations, with open admission every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon,” explained Hassan. “The space will also be used for different cultural representations and is now featuring the history of Ramadan.”
He expects the new studio to serve as an immersive background for theater, dance and even yoga.
“It was only after the OER Conference that I realized the potential of what Analog Way can do in the new studio,” said Hassan. “Every time we use the studio, I get to see more of that potential at work.”
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