Clemson U. Turns to Control System to Run Social Media Command Center

Projectors, LCD displays and classroom PCs are controlled from a single touch panel.

“One of their [faculty] design requirements was that they not be set up like a video wall because most the time is spent looking at six discreet displays,” says Heck. In other words, each screen often displays something different such as a graph, a heat map or a Twitter stream. In addition to the six smaller panels, the room also has two larger displays that are used more for lecture-style classes or presentations.

“It was really important for us to be able to take something from the video wall that’s a smaller screen and push it to our big screens,” says Thatcher. Heck achieved this using a Crestron 12-inch touch screen control panel and a Crestron DigitalMedia 8 x 8 switcher to route computer signals to the room’s monitors and projectors.

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A Collaborative Effort

“The interesting thing for me as the hardware designer was to sit down with the folks who are going to use this thing and listen to them describe how they might like to proceed,” says Heck.

He met with faculty members and university staff to determine their needs and then suggested technology that would deliver the desired results. For example, the room houses six tower PCs with an input for laptops. The laptop input was included to accommodate faculty and students that want to use personal devices in the classroom.

“At Clemson we’re a laptop campus,” says Heck. “All undergraduates have to buy a laptop as part of one of their requirements so everybody is well equipped. We have laptop inputs even in classrooms that may have a fixed PC.”

Heck also included a few extras in the room without the input of faculty. He installed occupancy sensors to conserve energy and maintain efficiency.

“These are things the tech guy puts in, but the users would never think of. If we’re running projectors and we’re burning lamps those get expensive,” says Heck.

Clemson began the design process for the listening center in August and completed construction in December. Part of the reason the project was completed so quickly was that the building had been renovated a few years before. The space used to be a working lab for textiles research, but had recently been modernized.

“The big deal for us is power and pathways from the technical side of it,” says Heck. “A lot of the power and pathways were already there so that made renovations somewhat less difficult.”

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