Purdue College of Science
Artist Petronio Bendito stood in front of the new interactive video wall in the commons area of the Richard and Patricia Lawson Computer Science Building. Slowly, he raised his hands above his head. There, on the wall, a series of giant pixels illuminated to mimic his form. This intersection of art and science is just one of many fantastic uses for the installation of 16 46-inch LCD monitors, a wall of fun and learning.
Bendito, a professor of visual and performing arts who specializes in multimedia design, has been working with the College of Science to create art using the video wall. The wall will also be used for more traditional functions like displaying news and information, broadcasting video from workshops and colloquium speakers, and for computer graphics research demonstrations. Internet-based audio streams for the wall's content will be available so that users can listen through their laptop or smart phone.
Last spring, students in a human-computer interaction course taught by Tim Korb, assistant head of the Department of Computer Science, created interactive smart phone applications for the wall.
The students developed applications for the Android smartphone that allow users to control and interact with the display. The applications will allow for voting on the video content displayed, streaming of audio to the smartphones, and for the ability to stream a video or presentation from a phone to the wall.
In addition to creating interactive applications, students in the class configured software donated by Harris Corp. The software, called InfoCaster, merges video streams from multiple sources, divides them among the processors behind each monitor, and maintains synchronization across the full screen created by the wall.
Maaz Humayun, a computer science student enrolled in the class, says it was a unique opportunity to go through the full design, testing and review process for a smartphone application.
"In my interviews, this is the main thing employers have wanted to talk about. It allowed us to experience what we will see in a real work environment," he says. "I learned so much more than what I would have learned in a traditional Android application development class."
Korb says there is much more that can be done with the video wall.
"There are many more interesting projects to come as students explore the capabilities of the video wall," he says. "It lends itself not only to computer science applications like designing smart phone applications or studying distributed systems, but also to the arts. It is up to the students' imaginations, and I'm sure we will see some very creative projects."