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Students at the University of Colorado at Boulder eagerly awaited the opening of The Center for Community, a brand new facility that is home to a variety of departments and university services. Anticipation was particularly high for the Center for Community Dining, the largest dining hall on campus, featuring food from a wide variety of countries and cultures.

Now that the center is open, students can order almost anything from tacos to sushi to Kosher and much more. And to help them decide, planners of the facility — including Digital Roads, an audio and video systems integrator based in Wheat Ridge, Colo. — specified a unique, high-definition video wall for the dining hall entrance. This nearly 200 square-foot expanse of liquid crystal display (LCD) video wall technology, developed by Planar Systems, presents a varied combination of graphics and video, capturing the attention of anyone wanting to grab a bite to eat while hurrying to class or coming off an all-night study session. It also informs passersby of what's happening on campus.

"This is a sophisticated display system," says James Hickey, field operations manager of Digital Roads, describing the Planar Clarity™ Matrix LCD Video Wall System, which his firm selected and installed. "But for all its sophistication, components and capability, it installed and went live more smoothly and easily than practically any other video wall we've ever implemented." That says a lot considering the challenges involved in bringing online an array of 16 LCD panels, each 46 inches in size, in a eight-wide by two-high (8x2) configuration. The video wall is 15 feet above the floor, and near-perfect alignment of the 16 LCD panels was required in order to create an almost-seamless display vista that can accommodate virtually any kind of visual content.

"Students here are bright, quick and tech-savvy," says Janice Torkildsen, the university's director of dining marketing and customer service. "They don't read posters, tent cards on tables or other paper-based information. But they do stop and engage with this video wall, and they do say 'Wow.' This technology orientation, combined with the university's sustainability orientation — a strong initiative to reduce paper — positions the 'Wow' wall to become our communication tool of choice."

She added that goals are to display the obvious content such as meal menus, and at some point to have live feeds from various chef stations. "But, we want the video wall to have interchangeable, engaging content, whether it's a live feed from a game in progress or information about other things happening on campus. That's the goal, and all the aspects of the video wall — its size, attention-grabbing imagery and flexible content — support that goal."

Commenting on the installation of the wall, Digital Roads' Hickey says Planar's innovative EasyAxis™ Mounting System was a key factor. "It made aligning the panels very easy and allowed us to capitalize on the thin-bezel design of Clarity Matrix, creating a video wall with gaps between each panel that measure less than three-tenths of an inch."

Other key attributes of the EasyAxis system include the quick and easy access it provides to any LCD panel within the video wall, so service can be performed without LCD panels being removed. The system allows Clarity Matrix LCD panels to be mounted less than 5 inches from the wall, in keeping with the clean and sleek design of the facility. Further, EasyAxis capitalizes on the design of Clarity Matrix, which allows power supplies and controllers to be located away from the video wall, thus removing sources of heat from the LCD panels that could induce failures or shorten their 50,000 hour backlight life span.

Shelby Hood IV, account manager with Digital Roads, reminds us that at the end of the day, the image quality of Clarity Matrix is perhaps the most important factor. "The video wall will ultimately support a variety of content that is both engaging and informative, so it has to look beautiful." Clarity Matrix delivers on that promise with industry-leading resolution (3000:1), brightness (700 nits), and color handling (16.7 million colors).

"The 'Wow' wall accentuates the look and feel of the Center for Community Dining," the university's Torkildsen says. "It complements the facility's design, and catches your eye in just the right way. It's what we envisioned, and we know it will serve us well for a long time, in many important ways."