SYSTEM SOLUTIONS THE RIGHT FIT FOR GE AFRICAN INNOVATION CENTRE
US multinational GE officially opened the GE Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg in June this year – one of ten centres globally, and the first in Africa. The impressive building features an exhibition/experience centre on the ground floor dominated by interactive displays and immersive digital technologies, installed and integrated by the Johannesburg branch of System Solutions, the well-known South African AV systems Integrator.
The exhibition installation of the Innovation Centre, which clients and partners first encounter on entering the building, is a key component in stimulating innovation and collaboration experientially, as well as showcasing the substantial, and evolving, portfolio of GE, the world's premier digital industrial company. The role played by the digital signage system is thus vital.
GE appointed System Solutions to install a mix of sophisticated NEC and Samsung hardware, including a first in South Africa: an 84in NEC interactive touch display, and a 4K pixel space 110" Samsung video wall with a multi-touch overlay. Along with these centrepiece installations, System Solutions seamlessly installed multiple content players and large format display screens of varying size on the exhibition floor, including twelve small format interactive screen displays as part of the "GE Meets Africa" section of the installation. All of the displays work in different parts of the exhibition space, and carry unique content provided by GE Global's international digital design consultants, Imagination.
The concept behind each GE Innovation Centre worldwide is to act as a showcase of GE's capabilities and intellectual capital. In the African centre, there is a strong focus on skills development, and on highlighting the global giant's move into the era of a fully digital industrial economy. The design of the Centre is remarkable. The fully green building has an interior full of contemporary furniture and installations by African designers and artists, curated for the modern tech hub feel by Monna Mokoena of CulArt Productions, in collaboration with the interior architects, Paragon Interface.
Imagination and System Solutions worked closely with the GE Global Properties design team and contractors to define the visitor segmentation and user needs for the customer experience. This collaboration strategy translated into a set of user journeys, touch-points and interaction principles, which formed a distinct creative framework for the environment, the content and the technology. The final result is a memorable, integrated, educational, and entertaining space built around a story that establishes a strong African flavour, with a colourful 'African fractal' theme dominating the reception area. The exhibition experience of the entire ground floor takes visitors through a tactile and visual learning experience, positioning GE as a global leader in digital solutions in many industry sectors, such as power, healthcare, oil and gas, aerospace, rail, mining, and many others.
Intuitive digital signage design
"Our expertise with interactive presentation and show control system design stood us in good stead with the display technology installation for GE," says System Solutions' project manager Prashna Parsoot. "It was also important that we understood the client's needs thoroughly, and that the installation met the design brief of the building, as well as performing its educational and business information display functions. Apart from the installation of the large NEC full touch screen, we had to very carefully install the 4X55" screens in a 2X2 videowall configuration for full touch screen capability. The huge 2430 x 1372mm overlay we used for the interactive showcase was imported from the USA and specifically designed to cover the 2 x 2 55" display. The touch screen was laid out, assembled and wired into the correct position for testing. Once this was achieved the software was downloaded, installed and tested to ensure working order before actual installation. The screen was then installed in front of a piece of glass that was specifically cut to the correct dimensions for the touch screen. Once this was all installed and tested, and under the watchful eye of our senior technician Charles Naidoo, the LED Screens were installed."
Other aspects of the experience centre installed by System Solutions include a series of wall-mounted screens, with NFC readers which allow the users to save relevant content to their user profile – downloadable from the GE Africa Innovation website, and readable at their leisure after the visit.
A virtual reality station, equipped with the latest generation Oculus Rift VR headset, runs bespoke GE simulations, allowing for educational immersive experiences – traversing through the brain, subsea or in a cockpit – as well as VR workshopping with customers on remote site-specific experiences.
An arresting Industrial Internet interactive display focuses on GE's evolution into a digital industrial company. With the advances in the industrial internet, GE today is able to provide end-to-end predictive analytics across all sectors, unified by the cloud-based GE Predix platform. The table-mounted touchscreen controls the experience, and is sector focused, connecting to a display of six locally printed 3-D printed models of GE products. When the selection is made, a software connection lights up the appropriate model on the display stand – a seagoing oil rig for the oil and gas sector, a jet turbine for aerospace, a wind turbine, hospital, locomotive and so on. A separate screen simultaneously starts up a data-filled animated video, simply explaining how GE Digital has revolutionised the manufacturing behemoth into a leading-edge remotely controlled integrated offering. The industrial Internet display is a beautifully simple example of how display technology works to reinforce the client's business and strategy.
"We're very proud of the installation," says Prashna. "The team, comprising myself, Charles and his technical team, Karen Blyth the operations manager and Jennifer Jeffrey the sales executive, have all worked together to install the job fully to the client's specifications. The variety of the installations required, and the levels of interactivity, meant we needed to apply our technical creativity throughout, and I think this shows. The ultimate goal of the centre is excellence and collaboration for GE, its customers and stakeholders across Africa. At System Solutions we're happy to have been part of making that happen."
Story James Sey. Photo ZooM Photography
Sep 19, 2016