Idea Factory: a Visual Analytics Laboratory

The IBI Idea Factory is the first visual analytics facility of its kind at the Perelman School of Medicine.  Designed to facilitate collaboration and promote new ways of communicating and presenting scientific innovation, the Idea Factory makes sophisticated data visualization and artificial intelligence analytics easy for users across the entire Penn community.

Book the Idea Factory here.

Display capabilities

CineMassive 16’ x 6’9″ display wall consisting of 12 55” high-resolution HD monitors (24.9 megapixel resolution)
CineMassive touch control access point allows users to easily display multiple (plugged-in) devices to the display wall
Seven HDMI input stations located throughout the room to allow users to connect devices to the display wall
Capable of displaying many images instantly on the display wall with one of our available web applications
Planar 98” 3D-capable 4K touch display monitor with 8.3 megapixel resolution
Planar TouchMark premier annotation and whiteboarding software (for the touch display)


Computing capabilities

Our NoSQL graph database (BlackFynn) server is used to store, map and query relations between the stored data:
Dell R830, 20 Xeon cores, 1.5TB RAM, 25.6TB SSD disk space

Our high performance computing cluster to assist with our data visualization and AI analytics:
Dell FX2 with 8 x FC430 blades systems comprising of 224 Xeon cores, 2TB RAM, 8TB SSD disk space and also has additional 64TB of external storage


Other features

Comfortable seating for 14 with additional standing space
A virtual reality station with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets
Audio conference capabilities
6′ x 4′ whiteboard

Who can use the Idea Factory?

IBI has established a system for prioritizing access with the Penn community. The researchers at the top of the list will have the most time slots allocated to them. In this context, researchers can be defined as staff, post-docs, and students.

1) Idea Factory software development team
2) IBI faculty and researchers
3) Perelman School of Medicine and UPHS faculty and researchers
4) Penn faculty and researchers that do not fall into the above categories


How can I make a reservation?

You can view the time slots allocated to each priority group listed above here.

You can reserve the time slots available to you here.

If there is unreserved time for a particular group, it can be released to any group only 24 hours before the allocated time on the schedule. For example, if a PSOM researcher wanted to use the unreserved time from an IBI researcher, they can contact Paul Kopec 24 hours before to request permission for the time slot, and if permission is given reserve the time slot online.


What equipment is available for use in the Idea Factory?

There are two ways to use the display walls at the Idea Factory.

1) Via the Alpha server ‐ You can plug in multiple devices and view them all simultaneously on the wall in the layout of your choice. There is a touch display control to assist you with this method.
2) Via the Bravo server ‐ This is a large Windows desktop, whatever you can do in Windows you can do here. Most people use our Web software (Image Explorer or Grid Manager) to easily display multiple files (images) onto the wall very quickly. There is a wireless keyboard and mouse to access this Windows desktop.

To connect your device to our wall you will need to connect via HDMI. We offer the following adapters and other equipment available during your visit.

1) VGA to HDMI
2) Apple Lightning Digital AV adapter, Lightning to HDMI
3) Thunderbolt to HDMI
4) USB Type-C to HDMI
5) Micro USB to HDMI MHL
6) Thunderbolt to Ethernet
7) USB Type-C to Ethernet
8) USB 3.0 and Ethernet hub
9) Power strips on table and floor


Can I make a conference call?

The Idea Factory has the capability to allow one person to dial into the Idea Factory for a conference call. The Idea Factory conference call number is 215-898‐6663. This is not a desktop phone set. The Idea Factory has ceiling microphones and speakers that are used for this functionality. You may use that line to dial out to a conference call, as long as it is local or toll‐free.


What are the ideal file types and resolutions for display?

Our wall is 16’ x 6’9″ and has the resolution of 7680 x 3240. If you wish to view large images on the displays, you need to create high resolution images. When creating your images be aware that each application refers to resolution in different ways.

For example, we found that images created with Photoshop need 300 pixels per inch (ppi) or greater to view well on the wall in a fully-maximized window. In R (statistical software) we found that a PNG file needed to be created with a 600 dots per inch (dpi) resolution to display well on our wall in a fully-maximized window. PDFs display well too, however some files are a fixed size and don’t expand along with the window.


Are food and/or drink allowed in the Idea Factory?

Only water is allowed inside.


Is there anything else I need to know?

A full list of the Idea Factory’s policies and more detailed information can be found here.

The Idea Factory is located in room C212 on the 2nd Floor of the Richards Building, 3700 Hamilton Walk, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Our operating hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact us.
Paul Kopec, Technical Director, (215) 746-7012, pkopec@upenn.edu
Miguel Hernandez, Assistant Technical Director, herv@upenn.edu
Sharon Tartarone, Visual Analytics Engineer, (215) 746-6879, sharonpt@upenn.edu

If you have visited the Idea Factory previously, please take our survey.

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