Aalto University, Finland’s highly regarded multidisciplinary technology, business and art and design school, with three campuses located in the greater Helsinki region, has started an AV project on its Otaniemi campus as part of a New Learning Spaces concept that enhances learning and work environments.

First to be completed was a single classroom (AS6) as a proof of concept in September 2018. The mandate for this initiative is to deliver uncompressed 4K video content with ultra-low latency enabling students and staff to easily share content and enable collaboration on projects in real-time. Another imperative was to build-in flexibility to cover many use case scenarios—from delivering one presentation to a single display to delivering multiple presentations to many screens simultaneously.

The success of the enhanced classroom prompted the administration to direct Lasse West, Aalto University’s AV infrastructure solution specialist, and his team to expand the program to additional spaces in several buildings on campus.

“What we were looking to achieve with our New Learning Spaces is simply beyond the capabilities of traditional matrix-based systems,” said West. “The SDVoE AVoIP solution we chose, powered by ZeeVee ZyPer4K encoders and decoders, gives us great confidence as we expand this program going forward and confirms our commitment to SDVoE-based solutions to help future-proof our investment.”

Aalto University was created in 2010 through the merger of three major Finnish universities – the Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design. The close collaboration between the scientific, business and arts communities is intended to foster multi-disciplinary education and research. The university is composed of six schools with close to 17,500 students and 4,000 staff members, making it Finland’s second largest university. 

The university’s initial system specification and requirements for the first classroom upgrade were mapped out in-house by West and the Aalto IT Services team, with refinements added in co-operation with several partners. Distributor Dustin Finland Oy provided some of the hardware for the project and some project management support. In addition, AV integrator Electrowaves Oy added value with support and design. Aalto IT Operations provided all the networking infrastructure for the project, including single-mode fiber and CAT6a copper cabling. 

The classroom/lecture hall’s endpoints can flexibly accommodate multiple sources or connection points for professors and students, as well as multiple displays, visualizer projectors and lecture recording equipment arranged for diverse scenarios. West and his team accomplished this by integrating ZeeVee´s Zyper4K SDVoE encoders and decoders to move uncompressed 4K video via an HP HPE 5900 48SFP+ 10Gb fibre network switch between 86-inch CTOUCH and 85-inch Samsung displays; four 65-inch Samsung group work displays and a Wolfvision VZ-3 document camera. Three of the displays have interactive touchscreen functionality – one of the main reasons a near-zero latency solution was so important. 

For presentations, the room’s lectern houses a desktop PC with a touch screen monitor that interfaces with a table-mounted cable box and a Zyper4K encoder to route video content to any of the space’s monitors. Sennheiser W335 vocal set and W352 headset microphones run into a Yamaha audio DSP unit to distribute audio, along with decoded audio streams from the desktop, to the speakers. Zyper4K encoders and decoders also distribute video from lectures captured via a Sony SRG-300HW PTX camera placed on the ceiling. 

Seamless system control second-largest via a TouchCue 12-inch touch panel interface connected to a logic controller, which uses the ZyPer Management Platform, and a Control Cue Dali Systems control processor.

The project served as a successful pilot for an ongoing program that will upgrade additional university spaces—including classrooms, lecture halls and meeting rooms—in buildings across the campus. In fact, by July 2019, the project already expanded to include additional classrooms in the chemical technology building, including ZeeVee Zyper4K-based systems. 

“Aalto University provides offers an instructive roadmap to how universities can improve their learning environment for students using technology designed to engage their students and grow with their institution,” said Rob Muddiman, EMEA sales director, ZeeVee, based in the United Kingdom. “We’ve worked with many universities and schools throughout the world and have developed a strong body of knowledge of how to best support the needs of the higher education community.”

“With our new AV system, we’ve added a new level of sophistication that enhances the ability for instructors and students to communicate in the lecture hall, which invigorates the learning experience,” said West. “From the start, it was apparent to us that an IP-based solution was the correct path—our research convinced us to select ZeeVee’s SDVoE-based solution as it assured a robust, future-proof system with wide component compatibility between manufacturers.”