60 million pixels for $100K

This is the cost of "The World's Highest Resolution Seamless Display" which was built for the IdeaFestival held recently in Louisville, Kentucky. For this price, you get 20 networked PCs controlling 80 projectors. You also get a screen of 27 feet across by 15 feet tall (8.5 x 4.5 meters) and a special calibration software to synchronize all the video sources.

This is the cost of "The World's Highest Resolution Seamless Display" which was built for the IdeaFestival held recently in Louisville, Kentucky. For this price, you get 20 networked PCs, each equipped with two graphic cards, and controlling 80 projectors. You also get a screen of 27 feet across by 15 feet tall (8.5 x 4.5 meters) and a special calibration software to synchronize all the video sources. And you'll need to pay the electricity bill: this monster needs 30,000 watts of power to operate. But read more...

Here is a short excerpt of the article published by the Courier-Journal of Louisville about this display.

Christopher Jaynes and Stephen Webb, two computer engineers in Lexington, Ky., have created a video projection system that they believe could improve everything from outdoor advertising to home entertainment.

Christopher Jaynes worked on eight years on the technology as an assistant professor of computer science and a member of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky. He co-founded Mersive Technologies Inc. -- clever name -- to market products based on the research work done there.

According to the engineers, as you can stack as many PCs as you want, you can create displays of any shape, even if I suspect they'll all be rectangular. But what do they look like? You can watch a short video (1 minute and 48 seconds) -- after a (quick) registration and a commercial -- from the link mentioned above. But below is an example of a large display from the company (Credit: Mersive).

Mersive's display technology

Of course, companies such as SGI have built large and expensive displays for a long time. And smaller companies also have marketed graphic solutions based on a large number of off-the-shelf components. So what are the competitive advantages of Mersive?

First, it's quite cheap. And second, it claims that its specialized software can seamlessly synchronize all these video signals. Let's look at the some details provided by the company.

Mersive's calibration and runtime software, Sol®, is at the heart of the solution. The Mersive Sol Server automatically calibrates multi-projector arrays into a seamless ultra-resolution display through geometry warping, intensity blending and color correction in quickly and scalably with no "user-in-the-loop." Sol makes configuring a display a simple two-step process.
First, Sol uses a video camera to view the display. Sol commands the display controllers to send visual information to individual projectors which the Sol Server collects using the camera. By collecting information from the display, the Sol Server can determine the layout of the projectors, where the projectors are overall, the shape of the display and how best to blend all the information together seamlessly.
Next, you experience your ultra high-resolution digital content like never before!

Please remember that the above quotes come from the company. Calibration of various video sources is not that easy. So if any of you saw the sytem in action at the IdeaFestival, please let me know what you think.

Anyway, with such low prices, Mersive should find some successes, even it's targeting too many markets at the same time: simulation, data visualization, education, training, media and entertainment. Personally, I think Mersive should initially focus on fewer industries.

Sources: Chris Poynter, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, October 11, 2006; and various websites

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