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.

exterior building view of das bank healthcare showroom, merseysideWith  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.”

Getting started

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.

inside view of das bank's 8k-ready operating theatre in merseyside, UK

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.”

video wall of surgical displays in das bank facilities in merseysideOutside  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