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Arizona State University

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Planar 98-Inch Ultra HD Displays Selected For Research Data Analysis And Visualization Center

Arizona State University (ASU) established the Decision Theater as a research consulting entity nearly a decade ago. Its mission has been to help other universities, corporations, and public agencies best understand the myriad impacts of their assumptions and decisions pertaining to a wide range of policies, plans and programs. Researchers in these organizations have turned to the ASU Decision Theater Network – located just off the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona – for its ability to synthesize and then facilitate the visualization and discussion of policy, plan and program data. Participants in disparate locations can then see how their research assumptions and decisions change when different factors are applied in real time.

"We are a data visualization resource for a wide range of users," says Aaron Lance, the Decision Theater Network's Senior Systems Analyst. "Typical is a city or municipality needing to understand the long-term economic or environmental impacts of a particular master plan. Our visualization platform – comprised of an array of Planar® UltraRes™ Series 4K displays – enables all parties involved in a planning project such as this to easily see all the plan details and collaborate to finalize the plan or effect any needed changes. The Planar displays represent a solution that hugely improves over the older display system visually, and with over eight million pixels, we get more than four times the resolution of standard HD displays."

Planar UltraRes Series displays replace legacy rear projection system

Originally the Decision Theater Network operated using a visualization platform comprised of rear-projection displays. Aaron says these were costly in terms of consumable components and maintenance, and they occupied space that could be freed up with newer technology displays, such as the Planar UltraRes Series, which are bigger, brighter, and have a much lower cost of ownership. ASU teamed up with Technology Providers, Inc., an established and highly recognized audio/visual integrator with offices in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada. Using the system design provided by Jeremiah Associates, TPI led the integration effort on the project, which was a complete AV solution including not only the Planar displays, but full video conferencing, high-end audio, a 64 x 64 HD video matrix,1080p streaming capability, and executive conference room upgrades.

ASU Decision Theater Network selected the 98-inch Planar UltraRes UR9850 model and specified a configuration of seven displays installed edge-to-edge in a nearly semi-circle arrangement. The display arrangement, Aaron says, is particularly good for discussions between the ASU team in Tempe, and researchers in a sister location in Washington, DC, many of whom are developing and refining computer models on various projects. "The large display array allows us to examine the fine-grained details of a model and see how certain changes might cascade through the model. It really keeps everyone on the same page and avoids having to examine a model or project by toggling back and forth between individual screens as we used to have to do; Planar UltraRes Series displays make it much more efficient for us." Aaron says an eighth Planar UltraRes Series display has been installed below the main wall and is primarily used for teleconferencing.

Several key features factored into display selection

When asked what features and capabilities led to the selection of Planar UltraRes Series and what benefits they provide, Aaron says the display size was one of the keys for him. Each of the displays measures approximately seven feet in width by four feet in height, providing a total display space of more than 1,400 square feet. At the same time, the displays are less than four inches in depth. "The total width-by-height is really beneficial because we can visualize so much information at any time. But equally if not more important, the sub four-inch depth is an order of magnitude improvement over the projection displays which were more than 13 feet deep. This has made it possible for us to redesign the center and add much needed office and meeting space, so it's a huge benefit to us."

Planar UltraRes Series was selected after consideration of other large format displays on the market, including several well-known brands. But these were seen as less capable or applicable to the project because they were higher in cost, required a separate video processor and would not accommodate the Decision Theater Network space as well.

TPI's Roger Campbell – Director of Engineering – says the image quality of Planar UltraRes Series was a key factor for his team. They like the display's Ultra HD capability (3840 x 2160 resolution) and the high pixel density. "When you have true 4K support at 60Hz – which the Planar UltraRes Series gives us – the result is a very smooth image, with little or no jitter plus smooth motion video and mouse tracking. This is important since we often need to visualize maps, GIS data and other highly detailed information."

Among the features unique to Planar UltraRes Series is not only its true 4K/60Hz support, but also the ability to have four HDMI and four DisplayPort inputs that deliver up to six simultaneous 4k/60Hz sources. Also, the display offers 500-nit brightness, 20,000:1 contrast ratio and serial controls that are used to power the display on and off and to change settings as needed. Further, Planar UltraRes Series displays have breakthrough energy efficiency. This is reflected in its LED backlight technology, passive cooling, and automatic switching to standby when no source is detected. "These all combine to give us a flexible, reliable solution with an impressive low cost of ownership," Aaron adds.