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The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of downtown Chicago and conveniently connected to the McCormick Place Convention Center — the largest convention center in North America. Attracting close to three million visitors annually, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place identified the need for more effective directional signage to better help visitors find their way to meetings, events and the hotel's newly renovated restaurants and bar.

"When the convention center has a big event, thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people require guidance to where they need to be," said Tim Obert, resident manager of Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. "But time and time again, we found that traditional methods of signage were ineffective and just cluttered our walls and space."

To address this issue, Hyatt management elected to incorporate video display technology from Planar, and engaged technology integrator Global Service Technicians (GST) to install the Clarity® Matrix® LCD Video Wall System. In the first project phase, GST integrated a Clarity Matrix video wall in a 4x2 configuration behind the concierge desk and a Clarity Matrix video wall in a 3x2 configuration at the end of a ground floor hallway leading to restaurants and providing a connection to McCormick Place. Phase two, completed in April 2018, consisted of a Clarity Matrix video wall in a 2x3 configuration at the opposite end of the hallway and a Clarity Matrix video wall in a portrait, 2x2 configuration at the base of an escalator leading to Hyatt meeting spaces.

Featuring outstanding tiled visual performance, perfect alignment and the industry's narrowest bezels, Clarity Matrix offers superb image quality, ultra-high resolution and a nearly seamless video wall solution for the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel.

Since some of the Clarity Matrix video walls were to be mounted in high-traffic areas, Mike Goyette, president of GST, specified Planar® ERO® (Extended Ruggedness and Optics™) technology, an optically-bonded glass front for increased ruggedness and optical performance, to mitigate the possibility of damage or broken hardware. "We also needed to overcome the vast amount of sunlight entering through the enormous windows on the south side of the building — a challenge that was sufficiently addressed by the display's 800 nits of brightness," Goyette said.

Initially, only the first project phase was planned, but Obert and his team were so pleased with the result that they pursued phase two, adding two more video walls to the space. "The video walls are visually appealing and provide crisp and vibrant imagery to capture people's attention," he said. "The effect is much more substantial compared to a static directional sign."

A tool for flexible digital signage

Beyond wayfinding, the flexibility and dynamic features of Clarity Matrix offer the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place additional opportunities for digital signage.

"Our primary mission is directional assistance, but we are also using the video walls for promotions, advertising and communications," Obert said. "For example, we can run signage packages for automotive manufacturers during the auto show or display custom messaging to support branding efforts for our local city partners. The content can also be aspirational, such as thanking our service men and women on Veteran's Day."

Distributed design provides multiple benefits

The Clarity Matrix includes a unique off-board architecture that transfers the system's electronics — including heat, weight, complexity, noise and potential points of failure — from the video wall display to a remote, rack-mounted system. With the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place integration, the distributed design allowed the electronics to be consolidated in a six-foot equipment rack located in a closet adjacent to the concierge desk.

"The remote design made the installation process much simpler and faster since we didn't have to provide power to multiple locations in the hotel," Goyette said.

"This also allowed more flexibility in terms of where we could mount the video walls and made each project phase easier to quote."

By off-boarding the power supplies, disruptions to the hotel's day-to-day operations are minimized if the video walls require servicing or maintenance. "Instead of pulling displays off the wall, we can access everything we need in the equipment rack," Goyette said. "In the case of the 3x2 Clarity Matrix that connects with McCormick Place, without the off-board architecture we would otherwise have to use a scissor lift in the middle of a narrow and very high-traffic hallway to access the video wall."

Video Wall Calculator simplifies design and configuration process

Planar's Video Wall Calculator — an online tool that allows users to configure and simulate a video wall prior to making a purchase — was a valuable feature for helping streamline the upfront planning of the integration project, according to Goyette.

Designed to make the video wall selection process easier, the tool allows users to generate specification data, installation diagrams and custom renderings. "When I finished creating a customized layout, I was able to print a report detailing all the required equipment," Goyette said. "It takes the guesswork out of what components are needed and makes the design process much easier."