For devotees of Event Technology there is just no bigger event on the calendar than InfoComm. It is the largest, most exciting industry event in North America focused wholly on the pro-AV industry. It features over 1,000 exhibitors, thousands of new and existing techie products, and sees 44,000 attendees from over 100 countries every year. InfoComm 2018 was held at Las Vegas Convention Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada in the first week of June this year. Our Director of Technology, Andrew MacColl joined Encore’s Global Innovation team at this year’s annual AV geek fest to see what’s hot… and what’s not.
The idea of convergence between AV and IT is not new of course but the speed of the trends in IT filtering through to pro-AV is increasing. And of course Cloud is right at the centre of IT innovation currently. All of the things we have already seen from IT tech like Wearables, Big Data and Content Analytics will now cascade into pro-AV. Tools like AI will soon be right at the edge of the network instead of hidden away and the voice activated interfaces will become simpler and more human friendly. AI Chatbots will soon be controlling meeting spaces and meeting technology. Google Voice currently appears to be winning friends in this space much more successfully than Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. At this stage about 70%+ of the manufacturers we spoke to are embracing that platform in the AV space.
Pictured: Microsoft and Google stands spotted at InfoComm 2018.
Predictions that office workers will have a high functioning digital assistants running a sophisticated voice driven AI by the year 2020 seem more than plausible given where we are up to already. And at this pace safe reliable self-driving cars may be a reality as soon as 2022 and the power of Quantum Computing will give us the next big leap in CPU capability as soon as 2024. How that plays out in the pro-AV space is hard to say exactly but it seems likely that much of the current complexity of AV systems is set to be taken out of the hands of humans and be given to talking, self-learning learning AI.
The other big scary trend is the seemingly unstoppable march to higher resolution, bandwidth-hungry display devices driven in part by the need for that industry to have something new to sell. So if you think the likes of Panasonic, Barco, Sony, Apple and Christie will be contend with rolling out 4k devices, think again. HDR (high dynamic range) will be the next ‘big thing’ and unlike 4K resolution will provide a highly visible difference to people viewing the display device. The improvement in dynamic range will deliver a very obviously deeper and richer image quality for video which will be more attractive to the eye of retail consumers and pro AV practitioners alike. Of course this will come at a price. It will need more bandwidth to run a 4K HDR signal down a cable than a standard 4K signal. And if that’s not enough, 8K res, 8K HDR and 8K high refresh rate (120 Hz and 240 Hz) video are all on the drawing boards. Current standard network speeds will go nowhere near the bandwidth requirements of these displays. The display device industry is planning on selling us all a Ferrari,… the trouble is we will have to drive it on a narrow dirt road with potholes if network technology does not keep pace. Or maybe it might be a good time to buy shares in companies that make fibre optic cables!
Products in the pipeline
All in all InfoComm provided a great insight into what we can expect to see in the near future. Of course we didn’t leave empty handed – there are lots of exciting innovations in our pipeline which you’ll start to see in the near future.
This article was written by Andrew MacColl, Head of Procurement and Director of Technology for Encore Event Technologies ANZPAC.