The iWall line of interactive solutions utilises proprietary hardware and software to deliver an impressive array of functionality. We went along to the UK launch to get the details.
MultiTaction’s iWall solutions have already made quite an impact on the higher end of the corporate market in the US and now the Finnish manufacturer is aiming for the same across Europe.
The location for the UK launch event was the Tower Room on the sixth floor of London & Partners’ HQ overlooking Tower Bridge. The iWall Lobby Solution bought by London & Partners was installed just over a month ago and is the first in the UK. In a 4x3 landscape videowall configuration, the iWall Lobby Solution is 5m wide by 2.3m tall. Each individual display (MT cell) comprises an LCD panel component from Samsung, with MultiTaction designing and building the rest of the display around it.
Designed for larger meeting rooms and public areas, the iWall Lobby Solution is a ‘prestige’ application built on a standard frame unit with the system run from a single PC. All iWall solutions have unlimited touch capability using hands, IR pens and up to 20 MT Codice 2D barcoded optical markers that can be read by the display surface, making it possible to customise application behaviour or content to the individual.
Four IR pens are included; an artist used one of the during the demo to draw 20 Fenchurch Street (‘the Walkie-Talkie’) onto a pre-2014 image of the London skyline displayed on the iWall.
The MT Canvus software behind the solution is also designed by MultiTaction and delivers a level of collaboration and visualisation capability beyond most interactive B2B solutions. The iWall doesn’t simply register touches; thanks to its use of IR emitters it can identify hands, and track multiple simultaneous users, even if they reach across each other. Each cell can respond to unlimited touch points – the iWall doesn’t slow down as more users work on it.
The iWall product family includes five different solutions ranging from the smaller Meeting Room Solution – consisting of three MT cells in portrait mode – to the aforementioned 4x3 Lobby Solution, right up to the Curved iWall, which again has 12 MT cells, but all configured side by side in portrait mode for a display area more than 8m wide. The constant throughout each configuration is that the system is run from a single PC, which means there are limits to the number of screens that one system can accommodate; previously 24 screens, this has now risen to 32, with each screen driven at native resolution.
For big data visualisation applications, the videowall can host different content on each screen including live browser or camera feeds, and users can annotate on digital post-it notes, which like the content itself are scalable. The Lobby Solution has six video inputs and two video outputs; it features two different workspaces: one periodically saves the user’s work, the other stores previous work, clearing it once it is finished with.
Before the demonstration MultiTaction CEO Pete Malcolm and VP of global marketing Jonathan Priestley gave brief presentations on the history of the company, followed by Andrew Cooke, deputy CEO of London & Partners who revealed the reasons behind the decision to install the iWall Lobby Solution in the Tower Room.
London & Partners is the government body responsible for attracting foreign investment into the UK. Cooke emphasised how important it is for the organisation to use high-end technology to secure overseas business. With the the iWall, the Tower Room has added advanced interactivity and big data visualisation, which allows teams to plug in and interact with data.
Additional case studies included Flextronics’ 20-display curved wall and IBM, which used the iWall solution to manage vast amounts of player data for the Toronto Raptors basketball team.
One of the most impressive aspects of the iWall is the simultaneous responsiveness. Each user enjoys full functionality, which doesn’t diminish as the number of users goes up. We were also struck by the ability of the iWall to manage high volumes of scalable data streams as well as providing a responsive platform for annotation.
Following the presentations and case study ‘proofpoints’ the presenters divided attendees into two groups for a ‘collaboration game’, which consisted of two people from each group using the IR pens to write down as many visitor attractions as they could. The exercise not only illustrated the responsiveness of the IR pens in practical terms, but also demonstrated a point that was made during the presentations – that technology should not be a barrier to collaboration.