The IBM Software Executive Briefing Centre in Rome, Italy, has been carefully designed to achieve a perfect space where visitors can experience the company’s technology first hand thanks to an innovative video wall powered by Christie projectors. This is not just a simple video wall; it is interactive, can display picture-in-picture or be used as a white board, and gives IBM executives the ideal platform to showcase IBM’s software technologies and systems.
“When customers come to visit us, we have to make sure they get the right impression of IBM,” said Peter Dardarananda, manager of the IBM Software Executive Briefing Program in Rome, “We want to provide an experience that is on par with - or better than - what they would expect of IBM. We sell software solutions and innovations, and these things are intangible. To overcome this we have designed a space where visitors can get the whole picture - literally.”
On entering the software lab, visitors are welcomed by a modern space, with interesting LED colour lighting, curved walls and white furniture. Within the software lab there are four briefing rooms. The largest room, with capacity for 40 people, features a floor-to-ceiling glass video screen, which uses three Christie M series projectors, one Christie WU12K-M and two Christie DS+10K-Ms. When no image is displayed, the screen is nearly black, coming alive with the projection.
“This solution essentially creates what I call a video canvas,” said Dardarananda “On this large video canvas, of 5 x 2.5 meters, I can ‘paint’ the video display I want without any interference or interruptions – there is one screen with no joints. Conceptually, the max is to use multiple projectors to create displays that occupy the entire canvas. In practice, I have one centered 1,920 x 1,200 display. The dimension of the image can vary depending on the specific needs of the day. I can go anywhere between 130" to beyond 160". Optionally, I can do simultaneous side-by-side at 1,400 x 1,050 each.”
The IBM Briefing Centre building, located near Rome’s airport, is designed for domestic and international executives. The structure comprises a group of seven storey towers that are interconnected. The site can accommodate up to 2,500 people, and the software lab, where the briefing centre is, has an average of 500 people working in it every day.
The presentations held at the briefing centre, using the video canvas, are normally multimedia and Dardarananda highlights that being able to demonstrate and present efficiently is a must for the organisation. This is why, after researching the different types of projection technology available, he settled for Christie projectors.
“There are many things we need to take into account when we are doing a presentation” says Dardarananda, “For instance, if the presentation is colour-coded, we want to make sure that the colours are displayed correctly. This is why it was very important for us to find the right technology to provide us with the right solution. Also, the definition of any written material has to be legible and clear. Sometimes we need one image on the whole screen and some other times we need to split the screen into several windows. We have three Christie projectors working together on one screen and the quality is impeccable.”
The three M series projectors from Christie work in unison, complementing each other to cover the whole of the 160 inches of the rear projection glass screen. The projectors offer high efficiency and low cost of ownership by drawing a maximum power of 1,320W, giving full brightness while using less power.
With space at a premium in the building, the room that holds the projectors is also used to store IT equipment. The Christie WU12K-M projector also employs thermal feedback systems to adjust the number of lamps and power level used, control the fan speed to cool the system, shut down (automatically) when the projector does not receive a signal and customise real-time events programming according to business needs. The thermal feedback is essential when, as in this case, the projectors are sharing the space with other IT equipment.
The projectors are about 230cm away from the screen and use Christie on-axis short throw fixed length lenses to allow better zooming. The main projector, the Christie WU12K-M, is in the centre and has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution and the two Christie DS+10K-M on the sides have 1,400 x 1,250.
The project was installed by AV specialist and Christie partner Meeting Project. “The briefing centre is a very interesting space,” said Fulvio Giovanelli, Meeting Project director. “We had several structural constraints. On the one hand we needed to be able to organise the screen in a manner that everyone present in the room would have a good view of it and on the other hand, Dardarananda wanted to create a seamless and impressive screen that would occupy a whole wall.”
The Briefing Centre had to be created within an existing building - it was not purpose-built. One of the issues this project had to overcome was the presence of columns throughout the rooms with less than five metres separation between them, which obstructs vision and is a disruption of the space. The other big difficulty was the fact that, at 290cms, the rooms have relatively low ceilings – so a theatre seating scenario was not possible. Meeting Projects and IBM decided the best solution was to replace a whole wall with a screen. To do this, they had to take drastic measures to bring the 160-inch glass screen into the building.
“This is one of the largest glass screens we have ever installed,” said Giovanelli “As we had no way to bring the screen into the fifth floor theatre within the building, we had to do it through the wall. We used a monster crane that lifted it from the street. We only had a couple of centimetres to spare; it was a delicate job. The crane had to be 25 metres away from the building and had a 50 metres lift.”
The video wall is used as a whole or split in sections, depending what the presentation is about. It also acts as a flip-chart or white board using a Nintendo Wii and an infrared pen.
The space presented numerous challenges, but the clever use of technology paired with interior design ingenuity achieved the desired result. The new briefing centre is designed to immerse customers in the IBM solutions experience and help customers understand how IBM can help transform their business.