Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, is one of the premier business schools in the United States awarding bachelor, MBA and doctorate degrees. The Ivy League school was the world's first collegiate business school, opening its doors to students in 1881. The university, as a leader in education, is committed to supplying faculty, students and alumni with access to cutting edge technology — Panasonic's 103" professional plasma displays are now part of that mix.


The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, needed to replace the large rear-projection screens in its two large conference rooms, which were used for alumni meetings, fundraisers and even weddings. The screens needed to be affordable and reliable, able to handle digital and HD content, and be easily compatible with teleconferencing equipment.


The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania installed the 103" 1080p, Full HD Panasonic TH-103PF12U professional plasma display to provide a huge, bezel-free surface—with an effective display area equivalent in size to four 50" plasma displays.


The sheer size of the Panasonic TH-103PF12U impresses potential donors and alumni, and works seamlessly with the teleconferencing equipment used to communicate with officials located at the school's San Francisco campus. Wharton is so impressed with the installation that it will be rolling out the solution in other rooms in its facility.


The Wharton campus is made up of four main buildings, including the flagship 300,000 sq. ft. Jon M. Huntsman Hall. The building is predominantly academic space, but also includes two conference rooms located on the eighth floor for alumni meetings, fundraisers, academic department orientations, memorials, weddings and graduations. Both rooms contained two Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) 70" projection displays, which were used to show anything from PowerPoint presentations to digital signage or wedding videos. After nearly five years in operation, Marko Jarymovch, IT Technical Director, Public Technology, Wharton Computing, and his team decided to begin a search for replacement displays, as the current ones were reaching the end of their lifecycle, and the vendor no longer offered replacement parts. Additionally, the projection screens required too much calibration and had too many format and resolution limitations.

With the new display solution, Jarymovch and his team wanted to move in a different direction, focusing on teleconferences, which would be useful when communicating with the school's other campus in San Francisco. Additionally, they wanted a solution that was affordable, reliable, could handle digital and HD content, and would eliminate unsightly bezels common in the current projection display solution. Wharton partnered with Video Visions Inc., which designs, sells, installs and services single and multi-screen presentation systems for professional applications. The school previously used Video Visions Inc. to install the LCOS solution. Wharton evaluated multiple options with Video Visions Inc. and ultimately selected the Panasonic TH-103PF12U 103" professional plasma display. The school chose this device because of its price, Panasonic's reputation for reliability, ease of integration with the school's current Polycom and Tandberg teleconferencing equipment and three-year warranty. Additionally, given the room's usage, it was important that the screen's size would impress attendees, including possible donors. In addition to the 103" plasma display, Video Visions Inc. also installed two Panasonic TH-50PH20U 50" professional plasma displays, which helped fill the space vacated by the former solution and allow users to show additional content feeds.

These 50" Panasonic professional plasma displays are mounted on custom swing-arm mounts, so they can move a full 18" to either the left or right. This allows for the person driving the presentation to be virtually in the same spot as if he or she were physically presenting in the room. As a result, attendees in the room forget they are watching a virtual presentation and focus on the content on the screen instead. The professional plasmas were installed during the school's winter break in 2010. Setup was simple. The new displays reduced the number of necessary inputs and outputs. Overall maintenance will dramatically limit issues with connecting external devices, whose images were hard to see due to of the bezels of the projection screens. The installed system relies on a Crestron DM switching infrastructure that is based on the Wharton tiered classroom standard. Although this room has all the technical capabilities of Wharton's classrooms, the focus is high-definition teleconferencing. This room's system also utilizes Crestron's DVPHDs for touch panel emulation as well as windowing and signal management with Crestron's HD scalers, a Cisco Tandberg C60 codec, HD cameras, and PolyCom Sound Structure audio processors with wireless microphones.

"To us, purchasing these Panasonic professional plasma displays is like when you get a new car; it's a feeling that doesn't wear off and has exceeded our expectations," said Jarymovch. "We were initially concerned with glare, line-of-sight and color-bouncing issues, but we've had no problems. Interaction and configuration of the device was simple, just select an input and turn it on."

Following the successful deployment of Panasonic professional plasma displays in Wharton's Jon M. Huntsman Hall, the IT team is now considering additional installations of varying sizes to display dynamic content to students and faculty across the campus. They are even looking at the 103" as a potential interactive instruction replacement for chalkboards in a few years' time.