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Genelec Assists in a New Age of Collaborative Learning at Tilburg University

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NATICK, MA, May 7, 2024 — Tilburg University, the Netherlands campus which specializes in artificial intelligence, social and behavioral sciences, recently upgraded its DAF Technology Lab to revolutionize the way its students learn and collaborate. Expanding the possibilities of immersive education and innovative research, two cutting-edge CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) systems with VR opportunities and 360º sound from Genelec now call Tilburg home. In a project that aims to positively impact education and training, Genelec’s Smart IP series of networked loudspeakers brought high-quality, real-life audio to a notably complex installation.

Max Louwerse, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University – and Founder and Scientific Director of the DAF Technology Lab – has been a big advocate of this new type of immersive learning. In several publications he explained how a CAVE system could be pivotal in the teaching of complex subjects by making them more engaging, motivating, and effective.

Created in collaboration with integrator/designer Levtec and AV partner Kinly, the DAF Technology Lab presents an all-encompassing VR environment for researchers and educators. Each has four custom Gerriets screens on which the virtual world is presented via four Digital Projection projectors and a state-of-the-art spatial sound system from Genelec.

“We looked at loudspeaker companies across the world, and Genelec was our preferred choice,” explains Louwerse. “Not only because of the quality of the equipment, but also because of something else that we find important – when we collaborate with a company there must be mutual trust, excitement, and enthusiasm about the project.”

The two CAVEs each have a system that comprises 42 Genelec 4420 Smart IP active networked loudspeakers and two Genelec 7360 smart active subwoofers. Some of the loudspeakers are on the ground, others are at ear height and 10 are placed above the CAVE with an additional four clustered in the middle of the five-square-meter room.

“Our goal was to create a sound system that was indistinguishable from standing in a real-life environment,” furthers sound designer Marijn Cinjee. “We wanted a system that would allow for sound objects to be moved with high precision in a virtual reality 360º world.”

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The team developed a panning algorithm that took data from the loudspeakers to recreate phantom images. Live tracking via an OptiTrack passive tracking system ensures that the listener never moves outside the zone of immersion, as it can follow a maximum of 12 people at once in the CAVE by tracking bodily and facial movements.

“The Smart IP series turned out to be cost effective because you don’t need all the other infrastructure, such as extra cabling and additional amplifiers – the power, audio and loudspeaker management all run off a single CAT cable,” explains Cinjee. “The DAF Technology Lab is also a very modern space, so we couldn’t resist the temptation of going with a modern audio solution.”

Additionally, the spatial system is run on a Digigram audio card that sends signals to all 42 channels and uses an AES67 network to access the Smart IP loudspeakers. This is run through a QSC audio processor. Furthermore, the CAVEs use Ableton software to address the channels and move the sound in 3D.

“When you walk around the space you will experience a different way of listening depending on where you are standing, but it’s always the most optimal sound all thanks to Genelec,” continues Maarten Horden, who designed and developed the DAF Technology Lab.

Tilburg’s DAF Technology Lab CAVE systems have presented the university and its affiliated partners with a new age of both technology and teaching. The system utilizes high-quality, immersive technology to positively impact the way students respond to complex information, and Genelec has again played a key part in what looks to be a pivotal project for future collaboration both on and off campus.

“Whereas most CAVE and VR environments focus on impressive immersive visual aspects in simulations, the DAF Technology Lab combines an impressive 360 degrees immersive visual simulated environment with a cutting-edge immersive audio environment,” notes Louwerse in conclusion. “The Genelec system has provided us with unprecedented opportunities to have groups of users interact with learning content and collaborate in an extremely realistic – virtual – environment.”

For more information, please visit www.genelec.com.

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