In Brisbane, Australia, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) recently opened its new $94.4 million Education Precinct building on the Kelvin Grove campus. Housing the Faculty of Education and QUT's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Oodgeroo Unit, the six-level, state-of-the-art facility is designed with flexible, technology-equipped teaching spaces that reflect the university's commitment to applying technology and immersive digital environments in teaching, research and engagement.
Suspended over two floors in a large, open atrium is the center attraction of the new precinct building—a massive five-meter diameter LED globe weighing 3.5 tons and composed of 1,040 individual panels and 12.7 million individual LED lights (12.7 million 3mm pixels). Built by Linso, the Sphere is a first-of-its-kind digital marvel and cutting-edge research tool for the Faculty of Education to advance teacher training.
The intent of the Sphere is to support the heritage of the Kelvin Grove campus as a place of learning and embrace the vision of the Education Precinct to provide the best experiences for students and faculty, according to QUT Visualisation and eResearch Manager Gavin Winter.
"Initially, the Sphere was a difficult object for QUT's content developers to get their head around," Winter said. "Our developer team created simulations in content engines to test how standard content mapped to the equirectangular geometry, and when used in virtual reality, both developers and stakeholders gained confidence in the solution and became very inspired. The technology is robust, and we're impressed by the scale and level of engineering of the system. We are also greatly impressed with how the Planar team worked with local crews to assemble, install and commission the project in such a short time."
The Sphere is complemented by a 15.7-foot-wide, 4.4-foot-high Planar LED MultiTouch video wall with a 1.2mm pixel pitch (TWA1.2) in a 4x2 configuration. Using Planar PLTS™ (Pliable LED Touch Surface) technology, Planar LED MultiTouch provides a protective, durable surface and 32 simultaneous touch points for creating a seamless and dynamic multi-user experience.
In addition to offering interactive content, the Planar LED MultiTouch allows users to interact with certain applications displayed on the Sphere. In one example, the planets of our solar system are displayed on the video wall. When one of the planets is touched, the entire Sphere transforms into a reflected image of that planet.
To bring the Sphere installation to QUT, the university partnered and worked closely with global AV technology distributor Midwich as well as systems integrator Pro AV Solutions, which assembled, installed and tested the technology.
"The Sphere and digital video wall touch screen are learning and teaching tools, offering QUT a changing menu of innovative and interactive content," said David McIntyre, video business manager, with Midwich Australasia. "Given our long-standing partnership with Planar, we had full confidence they would deliver a solution exceeding QUT's expectations."
Shannan Brooksby, Pro AV Solutions senior account manager for the education sector, said the LED Sphere and Planar LED MultiTouch video wall are an extraordinary example of enhancing the student learning experience and continuing to provide quality teaching and education. "Future programs with the Sphere may include augmented reality to enhance 3D learning," Brooksby said. "A climate change simulator is also under development".