Queensland University of Technology (QUT) approached Pro AV Solutions (QLD) for a very unique project that was to be the jewel in the crown of the Science and Technology Centre.
The vice chancellor of QUT’s vision for their new Science and Technology Centre structure was for it “to be a building that could reach out and showcase science and technology to the broader Brisbane and perhaps the world community”.
The question was how to create a feature exciting enough to draw in the students – and their teachers… the answer lay in some form of high impact audiovisual.
The Cube, as it was named, was to be a purpose built interactive video wall space that engaged people to touch content and discover facts on ocean life, or physics with wooden blocks, or learn about the Brisbane floods and where social media had played its part.
“The Cube” is the world’s largest digital interactive installation located at QUT’s Engineering Centre in Brisbane, Australia. The installation includes 48 55-inch MultiTaction Cell displays forming the 1,400-cubic-meter Cube; there are six educational zones, including a two-story, 14-metre-long Virtual Reef comprised of 20 MultiTaction displays and 14 edge-blended Panasonic projectors.
A custom videowall installation was delivered containing 48 x 55″ touch screens in a stacked array across five zones complemented with edge blended projection on a two storey high wall. The touch screens allow visitors to interact with and control the single giant image that spreads seamlessly across the monitors and projectors. The images are real-time animations, created by a metric tonne of custom-built servers housed two floors above. Break out areas are placed all around the building with a common view to content giving more visual impact from a distance.
An audio matrix manages 96 x 80 audio paths for localised audio at LCD’s and immersive audio for the projection zones. Video signal management is provided with five 32×32 matrix switchers and three videowall processors.
Touch panel control in the main server room and through an iPad docked in the wall structure allows management of signals from either within the installation or from the main rack.
There are no less than four separate cat6 networks connecting the custom built SGI servers to the displays. Video and multi-channel audio comes via cat6 transmitter/receiver pairs, there is a separate network to handle just the touch commands between panel and server, A third network allows the servers to communicate with each other to synchronise the animation elements as they pass between screens and a fourth network, the QUT LAN, provides overall communication and control. Nine km’s of structured cable were installed in total, and the entire installation was successfully completed within a compressed 6 week program.
Gavin Winter, QUT’s Cube Project Manager, comments “…the best way of thinking about it is as a giant multiplayer video game that’s capable of absorbing busloads of school students at a time and switching them on to science and engineering”.
The Cube represents a step-change in how universities will engage their communities and industry partners in the future. For QUT it represents a huge commitment to the development of future scientists and engineers.
“I believe the industry’s high regard for this project comes from its success as a technical solution, and being a composition of all the good things AV and IT practitioners want to play with. I also think that it represents what can be achieved when customers, integrators, and vendors collaborate and are mutually dedicated to quality and performance,” said Gavin Winters, QUT’s Cube Project Manager.
The Cube has since been integral in the presentation of joint-venture research and ‘STEM’ school camps, and has hosted many events including TEDx, the ‘Robotronica’ open day, and the World Building Congress. QUT has established The Cube Studio and is currently preparing new pieces of content, and in collaboration with the Institute for Future Environments, are planning new visualisation and interactive works integrating the Centre’s power generator and sensor systems.
“When The Cube was approved for implementation, Pro AV Solutions responded in the competitive tender process and to QUT the choice was clear: their track record and comprehension of the project goals, not to mention technical understanding from the outset set them apart.”
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