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Centre of the Cell Learning Facility Uses Medialon for Control

PLSN Staff • International News • March 31, 2010

LONDON – The Centre of the Cell learning center offers visitors an immersive AV experience, organized in five different "spaces," or scenes. The AV displays and interactive games help young minds absorb biomedical science and research in an entertaining manner, mirrored in the design of the center as a whole – a large pod suspended over an open-plan research laboratory. The Centre of the Cell's head contractor, Beck Interior, got an AV assist from D.J. Willrich Ltd. (DJW), which relied upon a Medialon integrated system for control. DJW also worked closely with the project designer, Land Design Studio.


The Medialon system serves as the main source of control for the timeline shows incorporated into each of the five scenes, synchronizing the music, sound and video devices and remotely powering up and down all AV gear installed in the pod. It also sends devices status reports to help the staff solve any difficulties they may have.


A Pre Show with music and lighting effects welcomes visitors into Centre of the Cell. Once seated around the edge, the show begins. Using a Medialon control panel on a wireless touch screen PC, the moderator starts Scene 1. There, visitors learn about what cells are. Lighting and music change, and video is projected onto four two-meter-diameter round screens integrated in the ceiling. Six speakers play the accompanying audio. At the end of Scene 1, visitors are warned that the "Nucleus" – a giant lozenge in the center of the pod, containing 10 touch table tops and screen interactive games – will start to open.


In Scene 2, the doors of the "Nucleus" open, and the table tops slide out to reveal games about cells. Visitors can grow cells in a virtual laboratory or try to win cards by beating their partner's cells with their cell qualities. An interactive floor projection game has also been installed. There, visitors stand on quiz answers about the size and number of cells in the human body. There are also touch screen games and information points around the perimeter of the pod, surrounded by lighting effects and all controlled and synchronized by Medialon.


From a simple touch on Medialon control panel interface, the moderator triggers Scene 3. While the lighting and music changes, visitors are directed to sit down, and the Nucleus doors close. Video is again projected onto the round screens and audio plays. Scene 3 shows how cells can be damaged and presents some biomedical research about cells.


This leads into Scene 4, where visitors take on the roles of biomedical scientists in the games to try out new research solutions. Doors open on the Nucleus to reveal different games where visitors can for instance learn how to grow new skin for burns patients, use microscopes to diagnose tissue and get feedback on their diagnosis and so on.


The moderator triggers the final scene, Scene 5, which brings the visit to a close with projection into the four circular screens showing the visitor how they can be part of this research, either by choosing a relevant career or making decisions in the public sphere based on their biomedical knowledge.


Using Medialon's touch panel design tool, Panel, DJW also created a number of scene variations for VIP visits and special events, which can be easily selected and launched by Centre of the Cell staff. The Medialon Panel also has the ability to change the timing of Scenes, helping the Centre caters for audiences of a wide range of ages and abilities.


"The main challenge, which was one of the things that drew DJW to this project, was the need to control independent software applications on 25 computers. Almost every computer needs to run different software at different times throughout the visit and this was a challenge that we could meet with Medialon – whilst making changes all the way along," said David Willrich, director of DJW.


The Medialon Manager V5 Lite software license controls and synchronizes all the Centre's AV equipment, including:


11 Mitsubishi projectors

4 Panasonic projectors

1 Dataton Watchout system

2 Broadberry PCs

11 rack PCs

12 Winmate Panel PCs

10 NEC 46" LCD screens

1 Bose ESP88 ControlSpace

1 DMX replay system; Estreamer

9 Visual Planet touch foils

2 microscopes with proprietarily and custom build hardware and software


"As we programmed the Medialon Show Control system, the client realized how flexible it could be and made an increasing number of demands to include extra modes and greater control over the system," said Nicola Jagger, DJW project manager. "This took more time, but means that the client now has a Show Control system that they really are happy with."


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