UCI News

Free speech explored on HIPerWall

HIPerWall makes its first foray into community education with "Our Students Speak" display on freedom of expression.

by Anna Lynn Spitzer, Calit2, and University Communications | April 29, 2010
Free speech explored on HIPerWall
Students protesting state budget cuts to education march on UCI’s Ring Mall during March 4’s “Day of Action.” Such demonstrations are one of many ways the right to free speech is exercised on campus. Steve Zylius / University Communications

“Our Students Speak,” a multimedia HIPerWall production featuring UC Irvine students talking about free speech and its impact on their lives and educational experience, makes its debut Thursday, April 29, in the Calit2 Atrium. The 10-minute presentation will run continuously 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, April 30, and Monday-Tuesday, May 3-4; and 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday, May 5.

The HIPerWall, a 200-megapixel, tiled video display built at Calit2 in 2005 and funded by the National Science Foundation, is designed to visualize enormous data sets, allowing viewers to see extraordinary detail while retaining context. One of UCI’s most ambitious uses of information technology, it has facilitated collaborative research in everything from neurobiology to climate change to emergency management.

The free speech display taps the HIPerWall’s potential as a tool for interactive classroom and community education. It was produced by University Communications in collaboration with Jeff Greenberg, CEO of Tech Coast Works; Stephen Jenks, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science; and Sung-Jin Kim, a postdoctoral researcher in Calit2. Together, the three compose Hiperwall Inc., a business spinoff of the original NSF-funded research. The young company has acquired distribution partners and installed systems around the world in public and commercial venues. The largest is an 80-screen version in the offices of an overseas intelligence agency.

“From day one, everyone who saw HIPerWall asked, ‘How do we get one?’” said Jenks, who developed much of the software that controls the system.

Greenberg, who is also Hiperwall Inc. CEO, helped Jenks and Kim navigate the maze of paperwork and licensing agreements needed to commercialize their invention – a process they completed in just one year.

“We incubated the company at Calit2 and that helped tremendously,” Greenberg said. “We had the access to resources: a lab big enough to house a Hiperwall and network and staff resources.”

Currently, Hiperwall is installed in more than 100 locations around the world, and revenue is expected to top $1 million this year.