9 USB displays illuminate energy security

Here’s a great application for USB displays.

Hal Glenn from 2G Engineering has created an information display (on energy security and alternative methods of energy generation) with 9 USB touch screens, all running off a single Mac Mini running Ubuntu 9.10. And all using the available open source DisplayLink drivers and scripts and info at displaylink.org.

Doing this without USB displays would

  • Require a big desktop box to support several PCIe graphics cards
  • Would have triple the cords – Hal’s setup runs a single USB cable to each display. With VGA, you’d still need the USB cable (for touch function), but then would also need VGA and power to each!
  • Would consume much more power – which would be kind of embarrassing for an energy security display, wouldn’t it?

Hal’s setup builds on and extends some of the USB terminal scripts demoed during this talk at Linux Plumbers Conference 2009.

There are several reasons why this demo is easiest on Linux, one of which is by default, DisplayLink devices are limited to 6 displays on Windows and Mac. The Linux drivers have no limit, so you can connect as many displays as you like — keeping in mind you’re sharing a 480Mbs bus (that itself has a 127 device limit). But it is enough for the apps Hal is running on those nine 800×480 touchscreens.

It will be interesting to see how many screens people get up to for various applications.

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