Hiperwall is set of software that creates powerful, inexpensive tiled display walls (often called video walls, though I refuse to call them that because their capabilities are so much more than video) from ordinary displays, PCs, and networking. Hiperwall was based on a research project at UC Irvine (see my research page for more information). Hiperwall Inc. has licensed the intellectual property and the Hiperwall trademark from UCI and is selling a significantly advanced system to customers around the world. Hiperwall Inc. has partnered with Samsung (our software drives the Samsung UD product line of networked large format displays), Ingram Micro, and dealers around the world, to sell and support Hiperwall products.
The Hiperwall Advantage
Hiperwall systems consist of one or more arrays of displays, each driven by a computer, that provide a single virtual canvas on which content can be displayed. The Hiperwall system uses advanced parallel and distributed computing techniques to make the display nodes perform the work of rendering the display content, rather than having a centralized server do it. We also use advanced networking mechanisms to deliver the content via conventional Gigabit Ethernet, instead of using expensive video connections and matrix switches. This means Hiperwall systems scale at a much lower cost than conventional “video wall” systems.
Hiperwall systems consist of Display Nodes: computers that each drive a monitor and render content for that monitor; a Control Node: a computer that manages the system and controls content display; Sender Nodes: computers whose live screen will be sent to the display wall; and Streamer Nodes: computers that stream HD video either from capture devices or movie files; and a Gigabit Ethernet switch to connect them all. (Another node type is coming soon to add even more functionality – watch this space!)
Most of the node types use conventional Windows PC, though Sender Nodes can be Macs or Linux boxes, as well. The most common Display Nodes are networked monitors by Samsung or NEC that have powerful processors and run Windows Embedded, but ordinary Windows PCs driving conventional monitors work well, too.
Hiperwall Content Types and Capabilities
Hiperwall systems display and manipulate many kinds of content. The user at the control node can show one or more copies of each piece of content and move them to any position on the display wall(s). Content can be rotated, made transparent, or have its color adjusted, all independent of other content on the wall. The ability to have more than one copy of content items means that the same content can be shown in more than one place on a wall, as well as on satellite walls or monitors throughout the facility. This means managers and executives can monitor the same content that is on the wall in the control room, for example.
Images: Hiperwall displays conventional images (JPGs, PNGs, etc.), as well as huge images of more than a billion pixels. Users move, rotate, and manipulate gigapixel images as easily as with 8 megapixel digital camera images.
Movies: QuickTime movies can be displayed and manipulated. The performance of large QuickTime movies depends heavily on the performance of the Display Node computers.
Streaming Video: Hiperwall displays high definition 1080 and 720p video streamed from capture cards, some webcams, or movies, as well as standard definition video from webcams, movies, and capture cards. Multiple HD videos may be streamed to the wall simultaneously, and the streamed video may be moved, rotated, made partially transparent, and manipulated just like any other piece of content.
Screen Sender: Hiperwall software captures the live content from computer screens and displays it on the wall in a very bandwidth efficient manner. This powerful capability allows the output from proprietary applications (PowerPoint, Excel, GIS programs, etc.) to be shown on the display wall for collaborative activities, monitoring, or for any reason. The user on the Control Node can also remotely take control of the mouse and keyboard of the Sender computer (this capability may be turned off in Sender preferences) to actively manipulate what is being shown on the screen and the display wall. Because the Sender is so network bandwidth efficient, many Senders can be shown simultaneously on the wall.
Slideshows: Any combination of the supported content types can be grouped into a slideshow, where they will be sequentially displayed. Each item can have its own duration, and movies and streamers can be specified to continue or restart when their turn arrives. Images (with alpha channel transparency support) may be chosen to overlay the slideshow, so a logo or frame can be superimposed on the slideshow.
Environments: Content layout and attributes can be saved in environments for quick and easy retrieval and display.
Schedules: Hands-off scheduling of content to display on the wall is supported. For example, a weekend schedule may show different contents from a weekday schedule. Scheduled events can be specified with a precision of 1 second.
Web interface: An optional HTTP interface allows users to display and manage content and environments from their iPhone or any web-enabled device. This also provides a mechanism for traditional AV control systems to change content on the wall at the push of a button over the network.
The Hiperwall software provides tremendous capability through an easy-to-use interface, yet allows deployment of display walls for much lower cost than conventional systems.