Lost amid the waiting lines, coffee carts and excitement over the new iPhone 5, barely anyone noticed the new window displays that employees installed overnight to promote Apple’s latest product. The new display is among the most sophisticated ever seen at the stores, requiring both video spanning and wireless synchronization. The displays were shipped to the stores where the iPhone 5 debuted days earlier, and then assembled and erected overnight by the stores’ visual crews. The two-section, seven-foot tall display consists of two iPhone 5s mounted on slim black supports. Behind the handsets are two, three-screen video displays that show a continuous loop of iPhone beauty shots. The impressive feature of the display is that the six video screens are synchronized, and the images flow between them without any visual interruption. Apple has used video displays previously in the store windows, but usually with just a single screen.
The window display videos are powered by six Mac mini computers (one per display), and are wirelessly connected via Wi-Fi using Airport Express devices. According to one commenter below, each display weighs over 330 pounds.
More specifically, each window display Mac Mini is connected to a Network Time Server, and downloads the latest time of day from a master source (just like all Macs). Using a special application and the master time, the six separate videos are programmed to start on the exact same video frame simultaneously. In theory, every Apple store iPhone 5 display worldwide is showing the same frame of video at the same time.
This same technique is also used for other recent window displays. For example, a recent iCloud display showed documents, contacts, calendar events and music being uploaded to and downloaded from iCloud. In this case, all the mobile devices were time-synched to each other and to a Mac mini that powered the iCloud video display. The technique made it appear that the data was continuously flowing through iCloud and to all the attached mobile devices.