Five years on from the signing of a letter of intent in early 2018, the Joint Research Center Zeeland (JRCZ) officially opened its doors this summer. A brand-new research institute adjacent to the HZ University of Applied Sciences in Middelburg, the Netherlands, has been created for technical study programmes. Offering modern laboratories, JRCZ includes a data lab with a Google-like vibe, state-of-the-art chemistry and engineering labs, and an ecology lab for saltwater research, all equipped with the latest technologies. Playing a major role in the technical infrastructure, Leyard Europe has supplied multiple visualisation solutions for the facility’s, installed by integration company, Ocular. An innovative curved LED solution is utilised both for regular meetings and interactive group VR sessions using active 3D glasses.
JRCZ was established to analyse big data from varied sources, with a special focus on the Zeeland area in the southern part of the Netherlands, with its locks and waterways informing its research. To achieve this goal, a state-of-the-art, multi-zoned auditorium was designed to provide visitors and students with an immersive experience of the data and its organisational parts. The auditorium boasts a large Leyard MGP Complete™ 163” screen, which serves as an impressive presentation area. Once the presentation is over, visitors can then move to the next room, where they will be amazed by the pièce de resistance created by the Ocular team – a large, curved LED canvas solution that provides a stunning visual display.
Arne Van Vyve, Project engineer at Ocular since 2011, collaborated with JRCZ and Leyard Europe to design the innovative LED solution for the research centre.
"As with most great ideas, this one didn’t happen overnight,” Arne Van Vyve explains. “It involved a long preparatory process in which we worked towards one goal - to create the ultimate immersive experience for co-creation. The idea of constructing a curved LED wall came gradually, born out of several brainstorming sessions with our general manager Nicolas Vanden Avenne and the Leyard Europe team. The idea immediately appealed to me on paper, but of course the actual implementation was a bit more intricate and required a great deal of planning and execution.”
“This means that you can barely tell it's an LED wall if you stand just a metre and a half away. The quality of the display is exceptional, making the content look remarkable. The configuration provides visitors with a fully immersive and interactive experience.”
Arne Van Vyve
Project Engineer, Ocular bv
“Initially, the tech team at the institute looked at a projection solution,” says Cris Tanghe, Vice President Product Europe at Leyard Europe. “However, we suggested they consider an LED system instead as it offers a reduction in the depth required for installation. We also felt it would be more appropriate for a future- and research-oriented facility like JRCZ.”
Arne Van Vyve explains that Ocular had already established a long-standing relationship with Leyard Europe, a leader in high-end LED solutions, when designing a specific LED solution for this project. Together with Leyard’s main point of contact, Cris Tanghe, the team explored various possibilities for creating immersive 2D and 3D experiences. “Eventually, we settled on the idea of a 5.4-meter-wide, 2.4-meter-high curved LED wall, with a radius of 2,377mm. The smaller the radius, the more pronounced the curve," he adds.
The curved LED wall has a total resolution of 4320 by 1620 pixels, with a pixel pitch of just 1.2 mm.
“By using LED technology, the visual experience is fully optimised,” states Tanghe. “As there is no reduced contrast due to ambient light, the colour space is also maximised, producing bright and vibrant visuals. LED also has a lower footprint and higher return on investment compared to rear projection solutions. It can fit in a regular office space and has a very long operation lifetime.”
As the LED wall is also active 3D, VR glasses can be worn, and motion tracking allows visitors to be fully immersed in the experience, and the content and data being shown. This ‘VR studio’ is a seamless, curved, digital canvas giving participants the sensation of absolute immersion in the content being displayed. The tracking is available via OptiTrack tracking, allowing the eyepoint of participants wearing 3D glasses to be precisely tracked and adjusted in real-time to the content displayed.
The unique structure of the screen, combined with its impressive tracking solution, allows it to be used for training sessions and workshops, including the display of 3D models on the LED wall. “Furthermore, the JRCZ team uses the curved wall for 2D online 21:9 MSTFR video calls,” exclaims Arne Van Vyve.
Next to the LED wall, there are multiple 75” LCD touchscreens deployed. On top a large interactive LCD video wall of 4m x 1.2m was deployed allowing users to examine various types of documents, images, and videos. A camera facing the audience and another facing the wall allows remote participants to view the content and engage in conversations or brainstorming sessions from anywhere. This creates an interactive experience for everyone involved.
Nicolas Vanden Avenne notes that if they had chosen to partner with a different screen supplier, they would have had to work with multiple companies because of the variety of the products required. Another, and major, deciding factor was that Leyard Europe has offices and a factory in Europe, which was particularly advantageous due to global supply chain shortages.
“Leyard's local European production, that guarantees us short lead times and premium quality, gave us and the client peace of mind and allowed us to meet the project timelines.”
Nicolas Vanden Avenne
Founder & CEO, Ocular bv
Nicolas Vanden Avenne also commends Leyard for taking care of all the mechanical aspects of the LED screens, mainly for the customised curved solution. “They assisted us throughout the entire installation and had the right guys on site,” he adds.
“As a complex project, Leyard exceeded our expectations by providing a complete solution including the LED and LCD walls and the OptiTrack tracking system,” concludes Nicolas Vanden Avenne. “Their support was crucial in combining these challenging technologies, and the curved LED solution was the only way to achieve the sustained digital world we wanted. This is a testament to our years of experience, culminating in the ultimate immersive room. The end result is truly unique and impressive!”
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