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This university’s interactive lab is revolutionizing research


University of Washington brings data to life in new “Idea Incubator” space with an interactive video wall for health sciences researchers.

The TRAIL Space’s Success

The TRAIL incubator space offers comfortable seating on two colorful, modular sofas; a table with a whiteboard surface; and two smaller wall-mounted whiteboards. The flooring is hardwood-style acoustic tiling to absorb sound.

The space now includes the following equipment:

  • Data Wall – six 55-inch screens (three wide, two tall) that act as monitors and support HDMI and VGA inputs
  • PC connected to and configured for the Data Wall if users do not bring their own device
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse for use with the PC
  • Polycom telephone for conference calls
  • Two whiteboards – one extra-large, one medium
  • Large modular drink-friendly sofa with a waterproof surface (seats six)
  • Medium modular drink-friendly sofa with a waterproof surface (seats three for one-on-one consultations)
  • Six ball chairs and collaboration table
  • Power outlets throughout the room, mounted waist-high to plug in laptops

Optional equipment users can request includes:

  • Samsung 360° Camera
  • Amazon Echo
  • Video adaptor for DisplayPort
  • Video adaptor for DVI
  • Apple TV for streaming video
  • Telephone (Conventional, non-Polycom)
  • Whiteboard markers/eraser cloth
  • Chalk/eraser cloth

Connectivity is on a rolling rack to the side of a column, with all inputs on the front of the rack. All types of computers and platforms can connect, whether laptop, tablet, PC or Mac.

To enable system control, CompView added a color touch panel to the video wall, so investigators can choose what inputs to show on which displays and how they want the layout to look, and CompView trained our library staff on how to use it.

The Changing Needs of University Health Sciences Researchers

In recent years, services for researchers have morphed considerably, and services that require a video wall include research data management, survey creation support, librarian consultations, data visualization spaces, bibliometrics, team science and more.

The partnership recognized the need to merge services and workflows with a space that housed a video wall to create fully immersive visual environments for joint groups or teams of investigators to view data.

Transforming medical libraries into learning spaces for the researchers and investigators working in a university in 2025 is going to require bona-fide interactive spaces that have been tested for proof of concept, and we can’t remain constrained, even trapped, by the need to stay close to our traditional approaches in research universities.

Instead, we must show that we can turn separate workflows that support health sciences researchers and clinical investigators–formerly discrete audiences–into a mass of productive, regional clinical investigators working with real-time data flow to solve population health problems, and we must demonstrate that this transformed approach to technology and information services is equally reliable and valid to the approach we desire to retire.

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