The Fox School of Business at Temple University faces the typical challenge of every institution of higher learning: a keen interest in improving student services with limited resources. By combining three Optoma TX765W wireless DLP projectors with large whiteboards and easily movable furniture, the Management Information Systems (MIS) department at Temple University's Fox School of Business transformed Speakman Hall Room 200 into a high-tech meeting and events space.
"That kind of flexibility, there is no lab like this anywhere in the world," said Munir Mandviwalla, MIS chairman at the Fox School of Business. "And we did it for less than half the cost of a normal tech-enabled classroom."
As part of its mission, the Fox School says that it is "thoroughly committed to providing a student-centered education and professional development relevant to today's digital, global economy," a value that, the school says, "is reflected in the integration of technology into the curriculum and classroom." This collaboration space, which can accommodate up to 30 people, embodies those values.
The room features a wall painted with projector-friendly paint measuring 21 feet long by five feet wide. Users have a choice of displaying a single large projection or a patchwork of smaller laptop-driven images simultaneously. "This implementation is interesting and unusual because we've used the three projectors to create a single image or project multiple images, without adding the cost of processing that is normally involved," said David Spiegel, president at Audio General, Inc., the Huntingdon Valley, PA-based systems integrator that implemented the technological aspects the project. "Usually, you can't do this sort of thing without spending a lot of money."
In total, equipment costs were kept to a minimal $16,000, although first quotes on the project put hardware costs at as much as $150,000. The whole project came in at under $50,000, about half of what a university would expect to spend on a technology-enhanced meeting space. Audio General put together a video integration system and processor that connects the projectors. In addition, the room is populated with tablet PCs and Netbooks which can be used with the system.
Up to a dozen people can connect from their laptops to the Optoma TX765W projectors wirelessly to display their images, diagrams or workspaces without additional specialized equipment. Each of the three Optoma TX765 projectors can link data and video from up to four PCs simultaneously, while remote monitoring and control provides flexibility in sharing data. The high-brightness projectors ensure that displayed content is clearly visible throughout the room.
"We had many different goals that we were trying to satisfy. We needed it to be extremely flexible," said Mandviwalla. "We wanted a room where people could imagine and innovate and use the technology in a way that is completely personalized to their needs."
To join the collaborative environment, users only need to take a few minutes to download a simple software program from Optoma. Using the software, everyone present uses the software to negotiate control over the image or images. Meanwhile, a hardware-based switch automatically turns off the projectors to conserve energy after a specified length of time and can also be used to manually control the projectors.
"We wanted to push the frontier of integrating technology, space and meetings," said Mandviwalla. "The requirements of flexibility, multi-purpose, mobile and so on all came from that vision."
The classroom also features tables and chairs from the HON Company that can be nested for storage and moved around the room to create endless variations that exactly match the needs of whoever is using the room, whether they are hosting a small conference or encouraging conversation in small breakout groups. To further enhance flexibility, the room's power outlets are embedded in the floor to power equipment without creating wire hazards.
"The concept of flexible spaces has been around for a long time, but it is only now that technologies such as wireless projection and furniture such as the HON tables have converged to make these spaces feasible and convenient," said Mandviwalla.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Optoma TX765W projector page.