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Auditorium classrooms get a much-needed facelift with Barco's NT-series LED video walls

Saint Louis, USA - 2024

Saint Louis University School of Medicine (SLU-Med) is a widely-known and highly-respected educational institution that has trained generations of healthcare professionals since its founding in 1836. In addition to developing some of the nation’s finest physicians and biomedical scientists, the school is a center for important medical research and serves its community with advanced, equitable healthcare. 

Barco solutions:
  • NT1.8 LED video walls
  • Infinipix® Gen2 processing
Key benefits:
  • Visualization solution so easy that anybody can operate it.
  • Sharp and accurate image quality to clearly show medical images
  • Highly reliable video wall, ready for intense use
  • Powerful processing for perfect images, even with low light output

A pair of 200-seat auditoriums located on SLU-Med’s campus serve not only as large instructional classrooms, but are also used for a variety of events such as research and student symposia, wellness seminars, and other diverse programs. These important facilities require a robust video system to present visual information for students and event guests, but both auditoriums featured unimpressive 5x5 LCD walls that were not currently meeting the needs of their users.

As technical issues and failures became more frequent, and reliability of the 10-year-old LCD walls became an overriding concern, internal discussions about replacing the equipment began in earnest. Heading the replacement project team was Tim Murphy, SLU’s Assistant Vice President of End User Services for the IT Services department. His team reached out to St. Louis-based A/V systems integrator, Color Art Technology, for a solution that would meet a range of requirements.

The challenge

The state of the auditoriums’ current display technology was apparent. The 2012 displays didn’t serve the space well as the screens looked small against the main wall, and the old LCD panels weren’t color-matched, which created problems when displaying medical images that rely on high visibility and contrast levels to be effective for instructional purposes. The new solution needed a display wall that was big, bright, and bold.

In addition to those issues, the auditoriums have many disparate users, many of whom are not full-time faculty. These users have varying degrees of technical knowledge necessary to run the A/V system properly, and the university is unable to train every potential user or devote critical IT resources to setting up the system for each use. Therefore, the new solution had to be easy to operate right away for any user or guest, without requiring IT assistance.

Finally, the window to complete a new installation was narrow, so as to not disrupt faculty and students, or interrupt the event programming schedule for the auditoriums. The old system had to be removed and the new system installed over a brief, one-week period in June-July of 2023.

Color Art Technology’s point-person on this project was Sean Lorenz, and he got right to work on a solution for SLU-Med’s needs.

The solution

During the project’s assessment phase, there were discussions about whether to use LCD or LED video technology, but SLU-Med’s visual requirements and their request to have no visible lines on the display wall made an LED solution the obvious choice. 

Sean already knew Barco’s stellar reputation for image processing, reliability, and smooth, timely shipping and installation, but when he began evaluating the various solutions available, it became clear that Barco—and only Barco—could meet the project’s exact parameters. He proposed a solution based around Barco’s NT-series, high-resolution, indoor LED displays.

On the technology side, Sean’s solution envisioned an 8x8 configuration of Barco NT1.8 displays, with a 1.8mm pixel pitch across a diagonal image width of 217 inches. The LED wall provides superb color accuracy and image quality, even in low-light settings, with low latency, perfect syncing, and no visual distortion. The NT-series’ incredibly-sharp, true-to-life images are the result of Barco’s Smart Calibration features and Infinipix® Gen2 processing power.

On the installation side, the NT’s thin tiles are lighter and have a smaller footprint, which enables easier mounting and integration into an existing space, a sleeker, cleaner look with no lines, and quick accessibility from both front and back sides which drastically improves the ease of maintenance.

Barco’s Video Wall Manager software automatically configures the different tiles, which greatly speeds up the installation process. If an issue occurs, it can be solved quickly with no or minimal downtime. Smart connections enhance the video wall’s image quality and operation, and Barco stands behind its products with up to 5 years of dedicated service and support.

The SLU-Med IT team trusted Sean’s choice, but when they got a preview of the NT1.8 LED Video Wall in action at a tradeshow, they were blown away by the technology, which gave them the confidence that going with the Barco solution was absolutely the right decision.

The Barco difference

Once Color Art Technology engaged Barco to provide the solution, Barco’s project manager coordinated all the components and ensured everything arrived on-site to meet the tight timeframe. Barco support personnel provided training to SLU’s entire IT team, and worked with the school’s technicians to demonstrate system setup and operation.

When installed, the NT1.8 LED Wall fit the auditorium spaces perfectly, filling the main wall, and the image quality surpassed all of SLU-Med’s requirements for color, brightness, contrast, and resolution. The display’s ease of installation, operation, and maintenance impressed the school’s IT team, who remain enthusiastic about the new system.

Color Art Technology’s Sean Lorenz puts the success of this project down to Barco’s support commitment. “Communication and collaboration between all the project teams was key, along with precise timing—and Barco made it all happen.”

The wall looks stunning and the new equipment is a big improvement for faculty and staff.

Tim Murphy

SLU Project Lead

The impact

According to SLU’s project lead, Tim Murphy, the migration from their old LCD technology to Barco’s NT1.8 LED Video Wall is “[a] night-and-day difference. The wall looks stunning and the new equipment is a big improvement for faculty and staff.”

Auditorium presenters can now post multiple interactive screens on the display wall, which promotes effective and active learning sessions. The NT’s brightness, clarity, and color accuracy are essential for displaying medical images, and now makes it possible for everyone in the audience to clearly see and read all the information on the screen.

The LED wall’s modular construction makes the video wall easy to service or adjust without disrupting classes or forcing faculty to relocate their presentations during routine maintenance. The system is simple to operate for faculty, staff, and visiting presenters, which has reduced a big labor burden on the IT department.

The video walls open up new opportunities for events in both auditoriums, and provide a good draw for prospective students who might be considering SLU-Med for their education. The display walls were even featured in a student newsletter as an example of SLU-Med’s investment in technology upgrades.

As Professor Heather Macarthur, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology puts it, “The new screens in both Pitlyk and the Education Union Auditoriums are a huge plus, as they make presentations much clearer and easier to see. The old screens were broken up into individual squares, and the borders always seemed to land on a vital piece of information, cutting it off from view. The new monitor screen in the front of the stage area in the EU auditorium is also helpful because it allows the presenter to completely face the audience while speaking.”

The Barco walls have made such a big impact that other departments now want video walls of their own, and, hopefully, new installations are coming soon to other sites on SLU’s campus.

 

Learn more about Barco’s NT-series LED display technology used in this solution by clicking the button below

The new screens in both Pitlyk and the Education Union Auditoriums are a huge plus, as they make presentations much clearer and easier to see.

Professor Heather Macarthur

Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology

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