Hiperwall, which was derived from technology developed at UC Irvine, specializes in video walls, giant displays comprised of a dozen or more LCD monitors assembled together.
Call it the Times Square effect. Digital photos, video, and high-resolution graphics are pushing the limits of desktop and other wide-screen monitors. Hiperwall specializes in so-called video walls, giant displays comprised of a dozen or more LCD monitors assembled together. The startup is aiming its platform at applications beyond marketing and entertainment, including trading floors, utilities, and command centers. --John Foley
Monitors assembled into a video wall
HEADQUARTERS: Irvine, Calif.
PRODUCT: Software for creating "video walls" by distributing images across interconnected computer monitors
PRINCIPALS: Jeff Greenberg, CEO
INVESTORS: None; privately held
EARLY CUSTOMERS: Stanford University Medical School
BACKGROUND: Hiperwall is a spin-off of the University of California at Irvine. The technology was developed at UC Irvine's California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2.
In The Lab
Before it was a company, Hiperwall was a technology of the same name, developed as a research project at the University of California at Irvine's Calit2 research center. The term Hiperwall is derived from "highly interactive parallelized display wall," as the project involved a wall of 25 Apple displays in a rectangular grid with a combined resolution of 25,600 by 8,000 pixels. In addition to running Mac OS X, the system was powered by an interactive visualization framework called TileViewer and a cluster graphics library known as CGLX.
Hiperwall Inc. was founded a year ago to take the technology to market. Video walls are assembled of display nodes, with each node consisting of a monitor and a PC that renders an image for that monitor. Since each monitor has its own PC, the system has virtually unlimited scalability, according to CEO Jeff Greenberg. The vendor has demonstrated 40 LCD monitors combined into a display that's 10 feet high and 27 feet across. The use of off-the-shelf PC and Ethernet networking keeps costs down, and the system can accommodate a variety of display types, including LCD, plasma, CRT, and "organic LED."
A Hiperwall system can display a single image or multiple images, and users can move, zoom, and otherwise manipulate images on the wall. In addition, users can share the content of desktop PC screens--financial trading data or maps, for example--with other people in a room by displaying them on a wall. Target markets for the system include control rooms (for airlines and utilities, for example) and scientific and medical imaging.
Hiperwall's technology makes for visually compelling presentations. Check out a demonstration video of Google Earth on a 270-square-foot wall display, and you immediately begin to appreciate the possibilities.
However, the company has only a few employees, lacks venture capital or other funding, and has yet to land its first bona fide customer. Prospective customers should ask about overall cost and how Hiperwall will support its technology. Working in Hiperwall's favor is a recent OEM agreement with Samsung Electronics, which is now distributing and supporting the Hiperwall technology in its LCDs.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.