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CCFE's slice of Raspberry Pi | 03/04/2013
Video display screens could become cheaper and more accessible for businesses thanks to a new Raspberry Pi-based control system developed at CCFE.
Programmers from Culham have harnessed the power of the Raspberry Pi budget mini-computer to create software for versatile yet cost-effective video displays.
They have tested the software on a prototype nine-screen video wall, shown in the clip below. The wall has been in use for several months in the foyer of one of the buildings at CCFE, home of the JET European nuclear fusion research facility, displaying videos and web pages for staff and visitors. Each screen in the wall employs a standard monitor and a Raspberry Pi, with a single additional Raspberry Pi controlling the wall as a whole.
For large video displays, employing multiple smaller screens can be a less costly option than buying a single large one – and allows more creative possibilities for showing different imagery across individual or multiple screens. However, the system can be applied just as well to one single display screen.
Licensing issues for the software are being considered, with the aim of allowing both commercial and non-commercial use of this technology.
Alex Goodyear, who developed the program and video wall with colleague Colin Hogben, explains:
“This could open up the use of video walls for more shops, company reception areas, public buildings – anywhere that needs eye-catching but cheaper visual displays. We've been delighted by the results so far and want to make this more widely available.
“Our software makes it possible to achieve professional results for significantly less money than existing control systems. It is another example of the innovative ways in which the Raspberry Pi is being applied for low-cost technology solutions.”
Features and benefits
1. Use of the open source Raspberry Pi platform – shortlisted as the greatest British innovation of the 21st century by the Science Museum.
2. Flexible, manufacturer-independent – using different display screens (size, resolution, orientation) from different manufacturers in the same video wall.
3. Flexible content display – web pages, photos, videos and remote desktops in any mixture covering all or parts of the same video wall.
4. Creative wall/display topology – one image on the wall, a single image repeated on each screen, a fragmented image dependent on screen positioning (see images right).
5. Cost-effective – based on the Raspberry Pi, enhanced with innovative software, benefitting from the open market for computer or razor edge TV screens.
6. Making video walls more widely available – schools and colleges, research laboratories, SMEs, public notice boards, art galleries and museums, conferences and exhibitions, concerts and other events, shop windows.
Video: demonstration of the video wall in action
For more information on the system please see http://www.piwall.co.uk/.