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Money can`t solve all problems, but can create new ones. For example how to watch a soccer match in the garden of your villa. You would have to set up and take down a projector screen, or it would permanently block your view of the landscaping and contemporary sculptures. And you could only use it in the evening and at night. The Austrian company C SEED has come up with a EUR 500,000 solution: a 201-inch (5.11 meter) LED display that can be folded together and retracted into the ground at the push of a button.
Company founders Alexander Swatek and Edouardo Saint Julien-Wallsee were inspired to create the C SEED 201 by major sporting events: "Public viewings substantially increased the desire for large outdoor screens that can be viewed during the day," said Swatek.
It took over four years to develop the entire system. Swatek and Julien-Wallsee were able to apply the experience they gained with their company Global Bright, which offers LED display systems for indoor and outdoor applications. To create the C SEED 201, the two collaborated with Porsche Design, which had the idea for the folding mechanism.
Six electric motors in the display are needed for the folding process, and another six are needed to secure the seven segments. A 4-kilowatt lifting motor in the base ensures that the display is extended completely from the ground in only 25 seconds. It only takes 40 seconds for the outdoor television to be ready for viewing.
To allow the eleven square meter and one ton screen to disappear into the ground, the 2.6 ton base is installed in a waterproof shaft six meters underground. Even though many customers of C SEED 201 are outside of Austria (the web site is offered in German, English and Russian), the Austrians are always on site for the installation and startup of the system. Only the installation of the ground shaft is completed by external contractors.
The display is equipped with sensors for its own protection. If the wind becomes too strong, it starts to rain, or the temperature gets too hot or too cold, the C SEED 201 retracts automatically.
But it is a robust unit in any case: "You can kick a soccer ball against it and nothing will happen. And even though it wouldn`t do anything to it, it is hopefully large enough that low-flying birds will see it and not fly into it," Swatek said.
The screen features 725,000 LEDs, a refresh rate of 100,000 Hz and a brightness of 5000 Nits, which is ten times brighter than a conventional flat-screen television. Thanks to its design, which is also used in LED systems for stadiums, the screen is non-reflective.
The optimal viewing distance is ten to fifteen meters. "From there, the human eye cannot distinguish the individual pixels, and the result is a homogenous video image similar to an HD image," said Swatek. Swatek provided no concrete information on the resolution that this corresponds to.
The giant display is fed with content by means of a Windows 7-based media server, which is connected to the screen by means of fiber optic cables. An additional wireless transmitter can send a full-HD signal over a distance of up to 30 meters – for example when you want to connect a video game console or laptop computer.
And the giant television of course has a remote control with the necessary range. The remote control is also equipped with a fingerprint scanner so that only authorized users can raise the display out of the ground.
The luxury outdoor television also features impressive audio from a 2.1 sound system and a total of fifteen speakers. Six for the right channel, six for the left channel and three 700-watt subwoofers.
Of course, the 2.1 system cannot create genuine surround sound. According to Swatek, a surround sound system could definitely be developed where the satellite boxes could also be retracted into the ground like the display and raised at the press of a button.
All C SEED 201 units are assembled by hand, so only 25 units can be built per year. In addition to luxury hotels, the customers include wealthy individuals. "We are of course too discrete to name names, but our customers include figures in the international film and music business," said Swatek.
A number of companies and individuals in Austria are also said to have expressed interest. The first C SEED 201 was installed at the event location Palais Schönberg. Plans are in place to expand the range of outdoor televisions: "We are planning smaller and larger screens. And we are working on different lift and cinematic systems. We see a range of desires for marine applications," said Swatek.