Liberty University is helping to increase engagement with its students and staff thanks to a new media wall at its Jerry Falwell Library, a new US$50 million facility which opened in January 2014.
Powered by Microsoft and developed by Kinect for Windows partner InfoStrat, the new wall measures 24ft x 11ft and is composed of 198 interactive tiles, which are controlled by three Kinect for Windows sensors.
The wall greets visitors as they enter the library and displays animated visualisations of photos submitted by the university’s students and staff via social media using specific hashtags.
Thanks to this interactive element, the wall provides a snapshot into life at the university both on campus and around the world.
Washington D.C-based Infostrat worked with the university to develop visualisations and create a custom service to enable simultaneous use of multiple Kinect for Windows sensors.
“All of those that have visited us have approached the media wall with a sense of wonder and amazement,” said Marcy Pride, Dean of Jerry Falwell Library, Liberty University. “I like the Kinect feature, because it does allow for them to be engaged and to have a sense of control over what’s happening. I think that the media wall positions us nicely as a 21st century library that uses technology to engage students, to allow them to have a sense of control, and to give them the opportunity to be creative and innovative.”
The three sensors create a continuous interactive space in front of the entire video wall. The sensors are connected to a single computer via USB extenders. A Windows Service processes and unifies data from each sensor.
“When students first visit the library, they may not know that the video wall is interactive,” said Joshua Blake, technical director of InfoStrat’s Advanced Technology Group. “As they walk through the space, or they see someone else interacting, it’s a bit of a surprise – this huge video wall responds to them, thanks to the Kinect sensors.”
A Unity application takes social media and configuration from a custom web service on a server located elsewhere, as well as the Kinect interaction data from the local Windows Service, to drive the visualisation of the media wall.
The web server intakes the social media posts and images and hosts a management website, through which administrators are able to moderate posts and remotely configure what material appears on the media wall.
“I think it has been very well received by students, faculty staff and visitors,” said Tim Siegel, Systems Librarian, Jerry Falwell Library, Liberty University. “Whenever you walk by you always see people coming up and they’re interested in it. Some of them don’t know that it’s touch and someone will come up and wave their hand, then as soon as they realise that it’s motion sensing, they all of a sudden they all of a sudden get so excited and start playing with it.”
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