Schedule Displays, Exhibit Information, Interactive Kiosks, Ambient Control
Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, situated within Vancouver's beautiful Stanley Park, is Canada's largest aquarium and one of the five largest in North America.
The Aquarium is internationally recognized for display and interpretation excellence, and was the first facility to incorporate professional Naturalists into the galleries to interpret animal behavior. Aquarium research projects extend world wide, and the Aquarium is internationally recognized for its successful Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
Almost one million people visited the Aquarium in 2004 viewing the thousands of living creatures housed in 166 aquatic displays contained within the 90,000 square foot facility. It employs over 300 people with an additional 962 active volunteers.
The Aquarium's new Discovery Education Centre, scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2006, will include a public area for displays and educational programs, wet labs, classrooms, a training area and an environmental newsroom.
As part of the upcoming expansion, the Aquarium had specified a networked digital signage system that would allow staff to centrally control content on various types of electronic displays throughout the facility. These screens would be used in a variety of applications: touch screen LCDs for interactive information, overhead plasma displays, running looping content, and projection screens for displaying show schedules.
Given the diverse nature of content to be displayed and the fact that the content would potentially change and grow, they required a system that would offer open architecture and flexibility. "We needed a system capable of displaying many different types of content simultaneously, including live video, audio, various types of media files, live information and web content", said Cheri Blue, the aquarium's Director of Information Technology. "Once set up, the system would need to run unattended, monitor itself and alert my staff of any problems", added Ms. Blue.
The Aquarium was introduced to the Omnivex digital signage software by their audio-visual system integrator, Conti Electronics of Vancouver BC. "Upon reviewing the Aquarium's specification, we quickly realized that the Omnivex system was the best fit", said Colby Harder, Conti's Vice President - Business Development. "When we demonstrated the system, they were immediately impressed by Omnivex's ease of use, its flexibility and its capabilities" added Mr. Harder.
The Aquarium staff quickly discovered that Omnivex software would allow them to repurpose and manage their existing content more efficiently and maximize the effectiveness of their entire audio-visual system.
Andy Torr, the Aquarium's Content Manager, runs the content management interface, Omnivex Display Director. From his desk, he can manage the look and feel of every display within the aquarium - even the kiosks. " We have been able set up the design so that members of the marketing and communications department can directly update media playlists simply by pasting items into the appropriate networked folders. I don't have to be involved in every content update", added Mr. Torr.
The Omnivex DataPipe system, which manages the acquisition and distribution of the aquarium schedules, news and messages, is managed by Kirk MacDonald. "We have provided access to multiple contributors throughout the Aquarium so they can post their information directly into the system" stated Mr. MacDonald, who also manages the Omnivex Control system. "With Omnivex Control, we can be sure that the displays and related PCs are up and running properly".
When the expansion of the Aquarium is completed, it is anticipated that the Omnivex system will be managing screens consisting of touch screen kiosks, general information screens, schedule displays, overhead projection screens.
"Omnivex and Conti continue to provide us with excellent support in planning and implementing our expanding audio-visual management system", said Cheri Blue. "With their expertise and close proximity, we quickly get the information we need and can explore other areas to deploy this system."
"This system has been a catalyst for several new ideas to enhance our visitors experience at the Aquarium," reports Andy Torr. Some of the planned enhancements using Omnivex software include:
According to Cheri Blue, the two things that have impressed her most about the Omnivex system are its reliability and its flexibility. "To my knowledge we have had no downtime with the system, and it hasn't restricted us at all in what we want to display. The sky's the limit!"