Scalable Display Technologies Empowers Flexibility for Kent State University’s Blank_Lab

Published: February 9, 2023

Nestled within Kent State University’s campus is an immersive experience environment, the Blank_Lab, designed to encourage new projects and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

The Blank_Lab is a resource for students, faculty and staff to investigate collaborative experiences that bridge the scope of immersive technologies, including augmented, virtual and extended reality tools. The space is a black box environment designed to be re-configurable to support the development and demonstration of projects utilizing these technologies. The Blank_Lab supports group experiences of up to 15 people, regardless of whether users engage with AR/VR headsets or experiment with projections to create an immersive experience.

“It’s a maker space with a range of AR, VR and XR technologies,” says J.R. Campbell, executive director, design innovation initiative for Kent State University. “Rather than creating a dedicated cave or a static projection environment, we created a larger one with a hung grid ceiling to allow for a hung curtain wall and support reconfiguring of supporting cameras, projectors and other components. We integrated screen mounts that support 360-degree projection and a 15-channel audio system to support the ability to experiment with 3D spatial audio.”

Kent State & Scalable Display Technologies Integration

Kent State University selected Scalable Display Technologies to automatically warp and blend multiple projectors across the 360-degree projection to create a seamless display. Founded in 2004, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is the original inventor and patent holder of camera-based automatic warp and blend technology. Ideal for virtually any application, Scalable’s software works on flat, curved domes and custom screen shapes.

“Scalable Display Technologies answered a unique challenge for the Blank_Lab,” notes Campbell. “The other vendors we were considering had completely fixed packages with controlled projectors and software. We are not a single-use case scenario. We required a solution that would flexibly support our maker environment. We wanted the ability to change components as needed. We purchased ten prosumer-level projectors and we needed a software solution that would allow us to effectively create a seamless image around a 360-degree environment.”

Flexibility for Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations

Campbell adds, “Scalable has allowed us to easily showcase anything in a browser window or desktop without worrying about specific software to drive the system. Our goal is to have a solution that’s easy to use, meanwhile eliminating any barriers to entry for students, faculty or staff. We’ve confidently accomplished our goal with Scalable’s software.”

The Blank_Lab, which opened its doors in 2021, has hosted a collection of projects, including three unique variations from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, the School of Art and the Department of Computer Science.

“Students from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design have utilized the Blank_Lab to design conceptual communities and environments,” says Campbell. “The design was rendered in video format to create a visual flyover of the communities and environments. Additionally, the School of Art has utilized the Blank_Lab to conceptualize sculptures from AI environments to physical sculptures.”

Campbell adds, “The Department of Computer Science is working on a compelling project, too. They’re collaborating with researchers in Holland to develop a digital nature experience for elderly individuals in care environments. They’re researching the impact of these environments on individuals’ health and well-being. The individuals are uncomfortable with a headset-based experience, so we’ve used the Blank_Lab to create an immersive projector-based experience.”

The Blank_Lab gathers state-of-the-art devices that target different areas of creation by allowing students from all majors, along with faculty and staff, to make prototypes, brainstorm and work on projects. It provides access to technologies to spark innovation that otherwise would be difficult to access, meanwhile creating community and awareness.

“The Blank_Lab has a definite ‘Wow’ factor,” says Campbell. “Everyone has been excited about the outcome. It’s not easy to get an opportunity to experiment with this technology. Part of it is the excitement of seeing it, and being plug-and-play without any technical experience required. We’re elated with the final result.”

With Scalable’s software, there are no limits to the display size or resolution, and images can be created using software tools.

To check out previous Commercial Integrator coverage of Scalable Display Technologies, check out our website archives.

Posted in: Projects

Tagged with: AI, VR

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