LED interactivity on a grand scale

Dynamo UAE was commissioned by Muscat Grand Mall to work on the LED tower project on the basis of its past work in Dubai and at Gatwick Airport. Zoe Mutter details the complex installation.

A magnificent structure of LED interactivity now towers above the shoppers at Muscat Grand Mall in Oman. The pixel perfect creation – the largest LED tower of its kind in the Middle East – was custom made by Dynamo LED Displays, along with 10 smaller columns and a large P20 display.

It was the success of Dynamo LED’s 2016 project at Sun and Sand Sports in Dubai Mall that spurred the company on to launch Dynamo UAE the following year. This exposure and presence in Dubai resulted in Muscat Grand Mall approaching them to handle the LED tower project. Initial topics of discussion also touched upon Dynamo LED’s previous project at Gatwick Airport which saw them create seamless shopfront LED pillars at the Hour Passion watch and jewellery boutique.

“This enabled us to clinch the deal and from then on it was a case of recruiting local engineers to erect a bespoke steel structure that was capable of supporting the custom made P4 corner cabinets,” says Daniel Reynolds, director Dynamo LED Displays. “To fulfil the contract, we also worked with technology partners to create an interactive app and Dynamo project managers recruited local labourers who worked in synergy to install the grand tower and 10 smaller pillars.”

The client’s ambition was to achieve an engaging customer experience that was interactive, entertaining, fun, informative and most importantly on a grand scale. With this dictating their plans, Dynamo set to work designing a tower made up of 263 metres of P4mm LED and over 16.5 million pixels.

Complex installation
While the 10 smaller LED columns stand at 4.6m tall and 1m wide, each side of the grand tower is 13m high by 4.6m wide and includes an LED floor surround measuring 5.6m by 1.2m. The key components of the indoor towers – Dynamo LED’s custom made front access P4mm corner cabinets – were assembled in situ by their engineers who added 7,272 individual LED modules, 1,212 power supplies and 1,212 receiver cards in the large tower alone.

“The screen resolution for the large tower was an impressive 4608 x 3232 pixels and we had to take into account its grand scale throughout the process,” says Reynolds. “For spectators to be able to see the screen content in its entirety they would have to be around four metres from the screen and this is why we decided to use a P4mm pixel pitch product.”

The distance of the screens from the control room also presented challenges for the team, but this was overcome using a fibre optic distribution system which fed directly into hardware at the screen end.

The indoor towers were particularly labour intensive and LED screen alignment was key so extensive testing was required to ensure each cabinet was without fault. This also relied on strong communication between Dynamo LED and local labourers. The outdoor curved billboard on the exterior facade of the Grand Mall was installed at height and in scorching temperatures of over 50°, requiring engineers to work at night to avoid having to adapt to the Muscat climate.

Content and interactivity
Once Dynamo LED’s Dubai office had opened they officially partnered with developers and engineers they had previously worked with on content creation and augmented reality projects in Dubai. This stood the company in a good position to provide all content, interactive and app development services for the Muscat Grand Mall project.

The content displayed on the tower comprises a mixture of paid advertisements from in-store retailers and corporate partners such as Emirates and Bank of Muscat; interactive games for all ages; social media feeds; local weather, traffic and events information; and security messages. Dynamo UAE produced and mapped the content using two custom built servers which distributed 8K content via four 4K DP signals, bringing the 16.5-million-pixel screen to life.

A combination of motion cameras, strategically placed around the tower and apps which had been developed from scratch, were used to give mall visitors access to interactive games and upload selfies to be displayed on the tower.

Custom made interactive content is integrated with iOS and Android apps as well as two docking stations either side of the main tower which allow visitors to interact with both the LED displays and many other aspects of the shopping mall.

“We believe this to be the largest LED tower in the Middle East and it is the grand scale of the videowall that makes it really stand out along with the interactive technology that enabled us to fulfil the brief,” says Reynolds. “We have created an interactive tower that not only creates a revenue stream for the mall through paid advertising, but enhances the customer experiences, increases footfall, and allows people to interact and play games.”

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