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Posted on May 24, 2021 by Paul Wilkie

This month’s custom integration featured article is brought to you by Sharp/NEC Display Solutions, leaders in the commercial projector marketplace. 

Glass Projection

Imagine a board room meeting without the same old boring PowerPoint presentation on a flat screen. Instead, the team decides to demonstrate its latest ideas leveraging the entire board room glass walls as their projection surface, creating an ultra-immersive and exciting experience. It’s not farfetched, and in fact, Sharp/NEC just announced an exciting solution called ActiveScene, designed to bring this type of glass projection to life for the first time.

In conjunction with Avery Dennison’s Vela Dynamic System, installers can now retrofit any existing glass wall with a Sharp/NEC projector and Vela Dynamic System film solution to transform plain glass into a stunning digital signage surface.

What makes this glass projection possible is the electronic Vela film. When triggered "on," it becomes opaque and an ideal surface for projection. When turned "off," it becomes clear once again. The full system comes paired with Sharp/NEC projectors, including the PX1004UL, PA803UL or P605UL, enabling installers to place pristine images on each glass surface. That’s something that is sure to capture the imagination, and opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for presenting to board teams, creating unique museum experiences and enrapturing retail environments.

Additional background on Sharp/NEC's recently announced ActiveScene system can be found here.

Floor projection

There are infinite possibilities for floor projection to improve a variety of environments and make them extremely dynamic. In this instance, we can imagine a brand-new retail environment (of which, there will be a huge surplus of retail environments moving out of the pandemic) where a retailer can create an interactive store “map” that enables wayfinding throughout the store while telling an interesting story that caters to the brand image. Leveraging the power of projectors, installers can help retailers identify unique ways in which customers engage with the brand in a multidimensional environment.

Pair floor projection with glass projection in a retail environment and you can create something entirely new, an experience within a retail center that not only sells products, but entices customers to return to the store time and time again to relive the experience with their friends and family. To build on that, retailers can also create multiple storylines leveraging advanced floor and glass projection to ensure that every time a customer walks into the store, they’re experiencing something fresh and new. The possibilities here are limitless.


Projecting onto obscure shapes and objects can be a really lucrative way for CI professionals to view the latest projection technology. Leveraging technology like geometric correction and NEC’s ProAssist technology, it’s now easier than ever to project onto a surface that has a decent number of nooks and crannies. We recently heard a team member at BrightSign LLC that is using NEC projectors to project rims onto a wheel to give potential buyers an interactive way to test out the look of fresh wheels on their cars in advance for purchase, which is a really cool and unique way to use the technology.

Another interesting case study worth highlighting is the Chicago Natural History Museum’s installation of the most complete tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to-date and the advanced projection mapping they did to bring that skeleton to life. By leveraging 11 NEC projectors, curators are now able to show scientifically accurate behaviors of a T. rex on the glass screens and an informational narrated projection mapping on the fossil. The effect takes place over a 20-minute looped show and is projected directly onto the skeleton and a variety of floor-to-ceiling glass screens. The entire effect envelops museum goers in the Late Cretaceous period and tells a much richer, more dynamic story than any static display ever could.

The important point to drive home here is this type of advanced application is no longer unattainably challenging to accomplish. You can now project onto just about anything without advanced training in projector technologies, and that’s a really compelling tool for CI manufacturers to stay abreast of as they evaluate potential jobs and offer unique solutions to better position themselves against the competition.

Screens Everywhere

Not every screen need be a “screen” per se. In fact, we think it’s cooler if it’s not. For large format projection, opportunities to apply projection to a variety of huge surfaces offers abundant prospects to flex commercial installers’ creative muscles. We imagine a variety of applications, including classrooms, conference rooms and museums using large format projection to help students, attendees and employees experience media in a new, exciting way.

Leveraging the advanced technologies we discussed previously, including edge blending and projection mapping, the ability to wrap whole buildings in projection is no longer implausible, and can make new corporate offices enticing for would-be employees, or spice up a new product launch. An interesting case study highlighted the work of the celebrated Japanese artist Tabaimo, who installed a variety of NEC projectors to help bring to life her installation at the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Asian Art Museum. In the end, the exhibit occupied half of the Asian Art Museum’s galleries (nearly 6,000 feet) divided into six galleries. It included eight video works juxtaposed with historic works selected from the museum’s permanent collection.

One SAM-inspired work, “Two,” used a pair of 16th-century Chinese cabinets and an NEC NP-PA571W projector with an NEC NP12ZL lens to create a multilayered image, the effect is both inspiring and immersive. The effect of this large-scale projection completely changes the environment, and makes the space much more engaging and exciting for art enthusiasts. It also opens up a whole new dimension of creativity for arti

Out of the Box Thinking

In a particularly interesting install, to celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial, a commission was created to celebrate the state’s 200th birthday in a very unique way. The idea was to elevate the various historical figures who left a huge mark in the state in a way that had never been done before. This required some serious creativity, and ultimately ended up in the commission deciding to project famous faces onto a series of trees outside McCormick Place.

The effect is the trees come alive with the images and stories of noteworthy Illinoisans like Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama; cultural giants like Walt Disney and Oprah Winfrey; leaders like Ida B. Wells and Jane Addams; artists and writers Carl Sandburg and Muddy Waters; and sports icons like Ernie Banks and Michael Jordan.

The install team had many factors to consider, including extremely high resolution to add detail to the characters’ faces on trees. Laser technology was also very important given its ability to create more lucid images that could “pop” off the trees and extreme brightness to combat some of the ambient lighting from streetlights. Ultimately, the effect is amazing and demonstrates how just a touch of creativity and the right projection technology can enable the creative juices to flow and provide really lucrative opportunities for CI professionals to leverage projection in a whole new light.

In the end, modern projection technology enables CI professionals to generate additional income and work by using projectors in new and creative ways. We can help give people the opportunity to re-evaluate their business environments, classrooms, museums, and a seemingly unlimited number of other applications, we just need to give the customers the ideas first.

We ask all CI professionals out in the world: Stop looking at the space you have available to you and think you need to have a giant space, or a rectangular screen to meet projection needs. With the latest technologies, like lasers, edge blending, advanced software, new and exciting glass projection technologies, and so much more, you can project onto virtually anything you can think of without too much technical acumen necessary.

It’s a brave new world in so many ways, projection can help make your business more dynamic and exciting, while delivering on unique opportunities to give your customers something really distinctive. And of course, adding additional dollars to your invoice. At the beginning of the article we said the Back to the Future technology wasn’t here quite yet, but our challenge to you is: prove us wrong.

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