Kean University, part of New Jersey’s public system of higher education, has opened the Visualization and Immersive Studio for Education and Research in the Nancy Thompson Library Learning Commons on its Union campus. Believed to be New Jersey’s first and only such space, the new studio is powered by an Analog Way Aquilon C+ fully modular and scalable 4K/8K multi-screen presentation system and videowall processor.
The inter-disciplinary space can be used for interactive and collaborative teaching and learning; data visualization and analysis; high-end, 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 do data analysis and visualize data to support studies in the space.
With Kean University seeking R2 research classification as an institution of higher education, “the new studio will play an important role in enhancing research possibilities at the university,” notes 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 impressive 270º experience features big screens spanning three walls. Ten Barco laser projectors display a seamless image across the canvas while an Analog Way Aquilon C+ drives the images and a Zignage media player plays back custom content.
“The Aquilon C+ offers a lot of horsepower and is very user friendly,” notes 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 Zignage player feeds the Aquilon with two 4K feeds for the left screen, three for the center and two more for the right,” Teates explains. “We take the Zignage feeds, crop them, and position them on the canvas pixel-for-pixel to create the edge-blended backgrounds across the screens.”
Hassan worked with integrator AVI-SPL, which designed, built, and installed the studio. “We needed a system with ten inputs,” says Hassan, “and AVI-SPL told us about Analog Way. 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,” notes 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.”
Hassan and his Assistant Director quickly put the new studio to use with Kean’s inaugural Open Educational Resources (OER) Conference live streamed on March 29-30. The conference, whose main theme was transforming and empowering learning communities through high-impact educational content and practices to advance equity, access, and inclusion for all, reached 1,000 participants worldwide.
“Thanks to Aquilon we were able to display eight layers on each of the three screens from iPads, laptops, table computers and more,” Hassan says. “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,” explains 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,” says Hassan. “Every time we use the studio I get to see more of that potential at work.”