Test bed: 8K-ready operating theatre comes to Merseyside, UK
An old bank located in the heart of Merseyside, UK can now stake a claim to being one of the most impressive 8K-ready facilities in EMEA. Charlotte Ashley explores the story behind the award-winning “Das Bank.”
“Das Bank is our R&D base, 4K OR, 3D printing base and all out hospital simulation site and high-tech playground,” says Ingo Aicher, managing director at Jones AV, on the integrator’s newly opened headquarters located in Merseyside, UK. Born from the company’s need to accommodate a growing number of staff and projects, in January 2015 the company began work on converting a run-down bank in the river-side town of Birkenhead, opposite the city of Liverpool, into a fully 8K-ready facility.
With the support of local council, the European Regional Development Fund and some extra investment, the unassuming, redbrick building has now “revolutionised” life at Jones AV according to Aicher. He says the building perfectly encapsulates the personality of Jones AV more than a traditional office space or a technical park ever could. “We compete against a lot of major corporations, so the space had to be unique and portray why we’re different.
“Previously we had to build test environments and start from scratch every time, but Das Bank enables us to have everything at our disposal and make very few changes to the infrastructure, because we have it all here.” The team are also able to troubleshoot and test and check the implementation of new products in greater speed using the facilities. “If we get a new firmware or software upgrade from a manufacturer we can test them before even going on-site, and we know that it’s going to work bug-free.”
Meticulously planned with a local creative studio, the open-plan space consists of a meeting room, several electronic and mechanical workshops, a video editing/3D rendering workspace, server rack and network/video infrastructure storage and the building’s showpiece, the integrator’s very own 4K operating theatre. Creative spaces, a kitchen, roof terraces and ultra-secure storage in the bank’s old safe complete the building, which is occupied by 6-8 staff on a daily basis, but could support as many as 16.
Despite taking on the project with a full portfolio of projects, Aicher states realising their ambition to build one of the industry’s most advanced integrated medical systems took more time and funds than allocated. “First the old building was completely gutted, insulated and rewired with future proof tracks for expansion and a fibre optic backbone,” recalls Aicher. Following the shell being finishing, the initial “few days” of debugging advised by builders became two months, meaning it took nine months before Jones AV could take ownership of the building.
“We refused to comprise on the quality and our vision of what Das Bank would become, but we were broke.”
As well as taking twice as long as anticipated, delays meant the process also cost Jones AV double the allocated budget. “We refused to comprise on the quality and our vision of what Das Bank would become, but we were broke,” says Aicher. In addition to hospital projects stalling, the situation was worsened at the time by the drop in oil prices and resultant decline of the Norwegian Kroner – meaning Jones lost 25% of its largest source of income at the time on currency fluctuation.
“Naturally we couldn’t power ahead as planned to finish ‘Das Bank’ but instead had to adapt our approach so that we could do it step by step.”
By the summer of 2016, the project could really take shape – with 4K operating theatres becoming increasingly sought-after. The theatre was eventually equipped with 4K over IP fibre optic routing and a permanently installed 4K endoscope with integrated 4K over IP fibre optic output from partner Arthrex. This was accompanied by a HD PTZ dome camera, central axis ceiling mounted arm camera, 32-in medical 4K video/IP monitor, a 42-in Barco medical wall monitor with an inbuilt decoder, HD-DICOM video recorders, a touch panel control system and intelligent glass rear projection screen and room separator.
Footage from the operating room is distributed to a simulated meeting room and auditoria via a 55-in LG UHD monitor to facilitate bi-directional communications. The OR also featuring a 75-in 4K Sony monitor running Kramer VIA presentation in an adjacent boardroom.
Jones AV has also incorporated Arthrex’s hospital-wide synergy.net Endoscope management platform, OR-scheduling software and HL7/worklist integration. This allows the team to demonstrate the integration of a Hospital Personnel management server Active Directory integration into the endoscope management platform – providing surgeons with individual pre-sets for different procedures for surgical devices, as well as room control and AV pre-sets.
Jones AV also partnered with Softneta to deploy a full PACS “radiology picture archive system” at the facility. This allows the integrator to show video routing and device control, and the majority of the workflow of the operating room and complete long-term archiving of electronic patient records. The system was linked to Das Bank’s two rendering and editing workstations to render radiology images into 3D models which can then be printed, while the other workstations are used to edit raw, uncompressed medical 4K footage. “We can now make things that would have taken a long time to get before, and be truly proactive instead of just reactive,” comments Aicher. The 3D scanner and printer are accompanied by a CNC laser to support prototyping. The team is additionally working on a touchless back projection device and a medical laser projection system to “stay ahead of the curve.”
Outside in the lobby area an assembly of different surgical monitors forms a unique medical videowall, powered by direct connections and a Datapath wall processor. The wall presents welcome messages and promotional content to visitors, shows video from the operating room, as well as client-supplied imagery allowing them to assess the most suitable screen for their needs.
Next on the ever-growing agenda for the company is completing Crestron control of lights and heating throughout the building. The company also hopes to install energy efficient servers in keeping with the ‘green’ theme that runs throughout the building, from the building’s heating system to its roof terrace composting system. “This also extends to our system design too, as we always make sure we are using the most energy-efficient components,” adds Aicher.
Aicher says the reaction from clients and manufacturers alike has been overwhelmingly positive when they discover the technology behind Das Bank’s doors. “When clients come here I think it just gives them that extra bit of confidence they need. They can come only having a theoretical project, and we can show them very easily what we could actually develop for them.”
Audio Technica ES945w architectural mics
Apart Audio amps and speakers
Arthrex Synergy 4K UHD endoscope
Axis IP security cameras
Barco 32-in 4K & 42-in medical monitors and MNA240 4K over IP decoder
Canvys 21.5-in medical touch monitor
Datapath videowall controller
FSN 27-in medical touch screen and wireless transmitters
Kramer Via Collage
LG 55-in UHD screen
Neutrik Opticalcon input field
Sony EVI HDSDI PTZ camera, HD swing arm medical camera, interactive ultra short throw projector and 4K 75-in monitor