Vast 360-Degree Projection Set-Up Drives Ohio University’s Maker Space

February 9, 2023 by Dave Haynes

It seems like every case study and press release I’ve read lately that involved blended projectors was for an immersive attraction – like Illuminarium or Montreal’s Oasis Immersion. So it’s interesting to get a story about a US university using a series of blended projections as the core aspect of a new lab built to encourage immersive work.

Kent State University in Ohio built what it calls The Blank_Lab – a “resource for students, faculty and staff to investigate collaborative experiences that bridge the scope of immersive technologies, including augmented, virtual and extended reality tools,” says PR on the project. “The space is a black box environment designed to be re-configurable to support the development and demonstration of projects utilizing these technologies. The Blank_Lab supports group experiences of up to 15 people, regardless of whether users engage with AR/VR headsets or experiment with projections to create an immersive experience.”

“It’s a maker space with a range of AR, VR and XR technologies,” says J.R. Campbell, Executive Director, Design Innovation Initiative for Kent State. “Rather than creating a dedicated cave or a static projection environment, we created a larger one with a hung grid ceiling to allow for a hung curtain wall and support reconfiguring of supporting cameras, projectors and other components. We integrated screen mounts that support 360-degree projection and a 15-channel audio system to support the ability to experiment with 3D spatial audio.”

Kent State went with Scalable Display Technologies for the software that automatically warps and blend multiple projectors across a 360-degree projection surface.

“Scalable Display Technologies answered a unique challenge for the Blank_Lab,” notes Campbell. “The other vendors we were considering had completely fixed packages with controlled projectors and software. We are not a single-use case scenario. We required a solution that would flexibly support our maker environment. We wanted the ability to change components as needed. We purchased ten prosumer-level projectors and we needed a software solution that would allow us to effectively create a seamless image around a 360-degree environment.”

“Scalable has allowed us to easily showcase anything in a browser window or desktop without worrying about specific software to drive the system,” he adds. “Our goal is to have a solution that’s easy to use, meanwhile eliminating any barriers to entry for students, faculty or staff. We’ve confidently accomplished our goal with Scalable’s software.”

No indication in PR about the projectors used. The Blank_Lab opened in 2021

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