Video wall makes big splash at Coover

Coover Hall video wall

As you walk in the east doors of Coover Hall, prepare to be wowed. Visitors are greeted with a stunning video wall that, fittingly, is intended to showcase and inspire work being done in the department of electrical and computer engineering.

The video display measures nearly 16 feet wide and seven feet high, and comprises a 12-screen grid. It can display single or multiple video streams, with touch-screen capabilities and a Bose surround-sound audio system. The ultra high-definition wall even has a name -- CyRIS (Real-time Interactive System) -- chosen from 136 contest entries.

"We intend the screen to be a landmark at Iowa State, something that will draw visitors from all over campus," said Brock Ascher, the department's communications specialist. "We needed something to spruce up that entrance, and for that part of the building to look like a place where the future of technology is being pondered."

Ascher, who will generate the content for the wall, said aesthetics aren't the only reason for the $150,000 project.

"All kinds of senior design projects are being dreamed up right now," he said. "We have plans for facial recognition integration, gesture controls, and all kinds of other stuff. We hope CyRIS piques our students' curiosity and becomes something for which they'd like to develop hardware or software."

Limitless possibilities

The screen wall can play slideshows and videos. It can stream online media. It also can serve as an information kiosk, with interactive components, such as a directory or map. But Ascher said the technology -- and its capabilities -- is expected to evolve.

"At no point will we ever consider the hardware or the software on this thing 'done,'" he said. "It always will be a work in progress. We will add and improve things, and a lot of that will come from what ideas our students bring forth. We're pretty excited to see what they'll come up with."

Photo by Bob Elbert.