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Student-controlled multimedia wall unifies sports, events, music, and projects

Clarkson University's state-of-the-art video wall combines art, technology and energy-efficiency utilizing Christie MicroTiles.
University Business, Nov 2011

The student center is the heart of any campus. It's so important that students at Clarkson University, a small private college in Potsdam, NY, voted an increase in their own fees to help pay to build one.

Clarkson, a nationally ranked research university, has 3,000 students in more than 50 degree programs. But despite its national reputation and dynamic student community, Clarkson did not have a student center.

In 2007, the university launched a major capital project to build a student center that would not only be a central meeting place, but also offer state-of-the-art multimedia displays that would be energy efficient while also bringing together all the diverse elements of campus life.

The university investigated many options for LED and plasma displays and selected Christie MicroTiles.

MicroTiles are small, digital displays that can be stacked and clustered in unique shapes to create unique video displays and unify many different video and audio inputs. Freed from the size and shape limitations of typical monitors, the video designer can create dynamic space that matches the environment, architecture and needs of the students.

The MicroTiles video wall is now the centerpiece of the student center amphitheater, broadcasting music from the campus radio station, as well as four HD TV feeds featuring sports events. Students, who control and program the content, can even connect their own video games to elements of the wall.

Visually, MicroTiles offer unique opportunities for designers. But as Clarkson found, it's a lot more than just nice to look at. Kevin Lynch, chief information officer at Clarkson, was concerned about the installation cost at first. "But once we factored in the lower maintenance costs, greater longevity, and the fact that you can replace individual modules without scrapping the whole system, the total cost of ownership was, in fact, lower than the alternatives." Lynch said.

MicroTiles do not use any embedded light sources, so they use 70 percent less energy than LED displays. There is no mercury or lead in the materials and more than 85 percent of the MicroTile materials are recyclable. A significant advantage is the ability to replace individual modules if a problem occurs, rather than the entire system.

"Clarkson is very technology-focused, so it was important for us to have state-of-the-art digital video."

"Clarkson is very technology-focused, so it was important for us to have state-of-the-art digital video," Lynch said. "We're especially pleased that our digital arts and science students can use the wall as a canvas for their own work. It gives them a learning experience on the latest in digital display technology. It's also easy enough to program that anyone with good laptop skills can do it."

The wall was designed by Video Visions and is 10 feet wide by 8 feet high. A Crestron touch panel is used to control programming. MicroTiles are accessed from the front and there is no rear projection, so the installation can be done on a rear wall and no major knock outs or tear downs are required. In fact, it took only six days to install the wall.

With Wi-Fi broadcasting, students can even program their phones and digital devices to tap into the MicroTile feed on their headphones.

For more information about Christie MicroTiles, visit