Video wall features display larger than life content to immerse customers in the story
USA - Verizon Wireless is turning up the wow factor in stores and malls around the United States, from their two-story flagship store in Chicago to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, to Houston, Santa Monica, and Boston.

Smaller "Smart Store Plus" locations that include some, but not all, of the new design features of the flagship stores are also making appearances around the United States starting in Seattle.

One of the first video features customers see when entering the stores is the Brand Focal, a video column consisting of over 100 Christie MicroTiles. The feature sits at end of the entrance walkway and displays the Verizon logo on a dynamic, animated background that interacts with shoppers using the motion tracking technology of Microsoft Kinect.

Further into the store, shoppers can explore features of various phones and service plans on the Product Wall, a long video wall 14 displays wide by two high. Touch overlays are applied to the bottom screens in each column. As customers interact with the touch screens, video content updates on both screens in the column, forming a single image. The interactive content is designed to make the entire product wall look like one seamless image, though it is actually 14 different interactive elements side by side.

A couple of video wall features display larger than life content to immerse customers in the story. One of these features is a 3x3 video wall in front of a treadmill where shoppers can walk or run through various environments and try out different wearable sports accessories and fitness gadgets.

A Wall of Sound features Bluetooth speakers from Jawbone, JBL, Beats, and Bose, arranged on the wall to give the visual appearance of a graphic equalizer. Audio is played via Bluetooth from a phone at the display and sales associates use a custom iPad app to select which manufacturer's speakers to listen to. Instead of listening to only one speaker at a time, all speakers from the same manufacturer play simultaneously, or all speakers on the wall together, creating an immersive effect.

McCann connected the audio source phone to a Bluetooth receiver, which feeds the audio to a BSS Soundweb London break in box. The custom iPad app communicates via Wi-Fi with the Medialon Manager system, which in turn commands the BSS Soundweb London DSP to route the audio from the Bluetooth receiver to the appropriate outputs, through distribution amplifiers, to the speakers on the wall.

The custom iPad app that the store associates use has different levels of access, depending on each user's login credentials, which are authenticated through Verizon's servers. Sales associates can change the speaker routing on the Wall of Sound, while store managers can change the audio routing and volume or lighting levels in each zone in the entire store.

Josh Navarro of McCann Systems developed an API for communication between the Verizon app and the Medialon Manager system. He says one of the benefits of using a Medialon system is its flexibility. "We knew they wanted to do a lot of unique things. Medialon Manager natively controls BSS Soundweb London systems and is flexible with regard to being able to handle as many iPad apps connecting to it as we want. That can be difficult with other control systems."

In addition to the store locations, Verizon has set up a test site in Hilliard, Ohio to try out new technology and media content before it ever goes in front of customers. Stephen Keppler, vice president and senior sales executive with McCann Systems says, "The Ohio test site is the proving ground, so to speak, for Verizon. Any of the technology and all content must run in the Ohio lab prior to implementation in a store."

The Medialon systems in each store communicate with the Medialon system at the test site in Ohio, where equipment status can be monitored and technicians can remotely troubleshoot issues.

(Jim Evans)

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