NOW YOU'RE PLUGGED IN.

Welcome to the one blog for all things AV-related.

InfoComm 2018 Takeaways: Best Gear, Emerging Trends, About the Show

by | Alec Olson

By now you've likely recovered from InfoComm 2018.

But, then again, maybe not.

Every show has so much going on all the time everywhere always. It's an impossible feat to see it all, but you're guaranteed to see some of the coolest, weirdest, and most advanced technology at InfoComm.

But, if you weren’t one of the nearly 43,000 attendees that flocked to Las Vegas, Nev., you surely missed out. (Sad, I know — but there’s always next year, right?)

While all the brave AV Tweeps out there recover from the weeklong technology and information treasure trove that was InfoComm 2018, here are some takeaways for those feeling left out.

InfoComm by the Numbers

  • Nearly 43,000 attendees (a 10% increase from the last Vegas show)
  • 108 countries represented (20% of attendees were from outside the U.S.)
  • The show had attendees from all 50 United States
  • There were 964 exhibitors, most (94%) have already rebooked for InfoComm 2019

What Was the Show Like?

This was the first InfoComm in North America after the organization's rebrand to AVIXA, or the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (formerly InfoComm International).

Did the rebrand affect the show? In short, yes.

There was a greater emphasis on the experience and the content that the show offers to its attendees. Sure, it was a trade show that had different devices and systems on display. But, InfoComm 2018 also continued its TIDE Conference and brought attendees to Center Stage, a place where people from all corners of the AV industry shared their thoughts on technology, trends and more.

“Both TIDE and Center Stage are two of those aspects of the shows I’m most jealous of you being able to attend,” said David Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, in an interview with rAVe Publications. “I just can’t take the full day to go to TIDE and I wish I could."

Center Stage was a place for outsiders and insiders alike to bring their projects and ideas to the forefront of the industry. “If it’s an emerging and amazing AV technology, we have somebody emergent and incredible talking about it at center stage," said Rachel Bradshaw, Director of Program Design with AVIXA, in an interview with Commercial Integrator.

TIDE and Center Stage really came forth to deliver on AVIXA's push to enhance the experience and content that attendees get at the show, moving InfoComm far beyond anything that a typical trade show would offer.

What's more, there was a 20 percent increase in seminar and workshop package registrations. Compared to the last show in Las Vegas, there were just over 3,100 registrants for the seminars and workshops.

Pat Santucci, CTS-D and design engineer II at AVI Systems, taught two courses this year at InfoComm: "The Science and Art of Troubleshooting" and "UX Beyond UI." He said that during his courses attendees were constantly engaged. Some of the more enthusiastic audience members even let out a few positive "whoos" during the "UX Beyond UI" course.

When Santucci wasn't teaching, though, he dove into an ocean of technology and he wasn't alone. He was among a group of folks from AVI who went to InfoComm, later reporting back on some of the best technology on the floor. See more below.


Check out this AWESOME video by rAVe Publications, recapping InfoComm 2018:


What Was Different This Year?

AVIXA works to enhance the show and its content year after year to uphold InfoComm's position as the premier event in the AV industry, explained Heidi Voorhees, COO at AVIXA, in an interview with Sound and Communications. "We’re looking at doing a five-year strategic plan making sure that we are really focused on what the needs of the industry are as well as our exhibitors and our attendees.”

At this year's show, there were pushes to make the content better, to bring people from different backgrounds to the show, and much more. But, outside of what AVIXA does to make the show great, there are some trends emerging in AV that were seen at the show. Here are four of those trends:

1. Data and Analytics

The prevalence of data analytics and business intelligence from AV equipment and systems is a newer trend to the AV space that was seen at InfoComm 2018. This data is coming directly from the equipment and systems that are tracking their own usage, including how long devices are being used and when maintenance is required.

What makes this trend so important is that it gives technology managers from all types of industries a way to organize and track their devices and systems in a way that wouldn't be feasible otherwise. For the IT or AV manager who has to keep eyes on dozens of conference rooms or classrooms, the tracking capabilities can be a time and budget-saver.

Looking at usage trends, you could find out what technology is worth investing in. And, if the device or system is used heavily, the data could help you determine when maintenance is required in a proactive way. Better than having to service the system on-the-spot when a class is in session or during an executive meeting.

2. 'The Collaboration Movement'

More so than in year’s past, if you were on the show floor at InfoComm you likely encountered different manufacturers – some traditionally seen as competitors – working together to showcase a common solution or interoperability among products.

Labuskes told rAVe Pubs that he believes this collaboration among manufacturers is a trend that’s growing because of company mergers and cooperative competition.

“The integrated experience, the overall solution, it’s more than components,” he said. “A lot of product information is available outside of the hall in Las Vegas and a lot of what is drawing people to a trade show is of course to see product but it’s also to see application of that product and to see possibility of that product, in addition to, of course, connecting and meeting and being with people and learning from others experiences.”

The benefit to end users of this collaborative approach from the manufacturer’s side is that it helps provide greater insight into how systems can work together in a real-world application.

Even with this collaborative approach, though, AVI's Santucci said that he expects many manufacturers to move toward a business model like Apple's. "I think we should expect encroachments toward the Apple model, where manufacturers are trying to get end users to absorb their entire ecosystem."

3. End Users at InfoComm

There has been a fair amount of buzz around the fact that more end users are attending the show.

Really quick, who’s an end user? An end user is the person or organization buying and using the devices or systems that are developed by manufacturers and typically installed by integrators, like AVI Systems.

Some estimates for end-user attendance at this year’s show were around 40 percent — much more than five years ago, said Craig MacCormack, editor-at-large at Commercial Integrator, in a post-show podcast episode of AV+.

The push to boost end-user attendance at the show has left some uneasy about it, MacCormack explained, because of worry that it could cut out integrators and create a direct channel from manufacturer to end user. “I think there’s still room for everybody and I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “I still do think definitely that there is a need for integrators and their expertise to be involved in these installations as well.”

Having end users at the show works to provide further clarity and insight into the devices and the systems that they will ultimately use for a business application. That said, it’s helpful to have end users know and understand how the technology works ahead of time to make better decisions when it comes time to designing the space and installing and supporting the systems. “I think we want them there,” said Labuskes, CEO at AVIXA. “I think it’s great for all of us.”

4. Unified Collaboration

“The entire UC track was the best attended ever at an InfoComm conference,” wrote David Danto, collaboration industry consultant and analyst.

Presenters in this track focused on the big trends of the day, from a growing millennial workforce to changes in metrics and the nearness of AI-backed voice control for the enterprise.

Read more about that here.

The Gear: What We Liked and What We Thought Flew Under the Radar

A group of design engineers, account executives and others from AVI Systems attended the show this year, just like every year. After roughly a week of re-acclimation to office life, a survey goes out looking for insight. The responses and information are shared with others who didn't make it to the show to talk shop, discuss trends and generally reminisce about all that InfoComm had to offer.

Here are their responses to the "Best Products," something that was impressive or updated in a way that made it better:

Vendor

(Some of the) Best Products from the Floor

1 Beyond AutoTracker™
AJA Hi5-12G and HA5-12G
Analog Way Heavy Duty Media Server - PicturAll series is capable of up to 8K content and pairs well with Digital Projections new Insight 8K Projector
Apantac 4K/UHD Compact HDMI 2.0 Multiviewer: MiniDE-4-UHD has 4k inputs to a single display (quad view), uses USB & mouse to move across the quad view to control the four different displays.
Atlona IP Meeting Space reduces complexity, installation time and cost
Atterotech Axon control / Audio endpoint
Aurora Multimedia IPX Series
AVTEQ Cisco Webex Board Mount
Barco CSE-800 Wireless presentation and collaboration system for boardrooms and conference rooms. Up to 8 users on screen, 4k, Daul displays, USB annotation, share laptop tablet or smartphone.
Biamp TCM-1, beam tracking ceiling mic to improve conferencing audio
Broadata ICP Control: Consolidated receiver with control capabilities
BSS DCP-555
Cambridge Sound A recently announced touch panel makes the system (Dynasound) easy to manage from a single dashboard
Canon 4k Laser Projectors
Christie Digital Guardian: For large projection systems with image blending, this software can find misaligned or misconfigured images and fix them almost immediately.
Clockaudio The CDT100 Dante Transporter is a Dante and AES67 enabled device that has been upgraded to work with their new RGB control devices.
Crestron AirMedia 200 and AirMedia 300 
Dan Dugan Audio Model N
Digital Projection Insight Laser 8K projector: 3 chip DLP, 33+ million pixels, 7680x4320 (8K), 25,000 lumens laser
Draper TecVision XH800X UST ALR is a premium ambient light rejecting surface formulated for use with Ultra-Short Throw (UST) and short throw projectors in moderate to high ambient light applications for improved contrast and color saturation.
Earthworks Audio C30 ceiling microphone and CTB30 table microphones
EvertzAV MMA10G-HUB2
Global Cache Global Connect series modular multiport interfaces with Raspberry Pi integration
Hitachi LP-WU9100B: 10,000 Lumen DLP Laser, with built-in edge blending.
Hypervsn Hypervsn Wall: Display modules using point of view effect to create a 3D illusion
Kramer 2000' 1080p extender over any 2 conductor copper
Leightronix Corporate IPTV: High-quality video for campus-wide IPTV distribution
LG Transparent displays for digital signage
Lightware Cisco Touch10 room solution with matrix and transmitter-receiver
Mystery Electronics DSP Control Surface
Newline Interactive X9 86" 4K display for collaboration: Dual cameras and works with any collaboration software
Nureva Microphone Mist™ virtual microphone audio processor
Panasonic 4K displays (LFE8)
Peerless-AV Xtreme™: High brightness outdoor display with very high and low temp tolerances.  Great display for outdoor as well as tough environmental installations, water, and dust
Planar Clarity G3 Video Wall processor was shown managing a fine pixel pitch wall
Polycom Trio: New features include the ability to add it to an endpoint or use it with different cameras
QSC MP-M Series
Samsung Samsung Flip
Shure Microflex Advance MXA910 ceiling arrays and MXA310 table arrays
Sony Sonic Surf VR and Crystal LED displays and video walls
Sound Control  Technologies SpeakerTrack camera system extenders
Soundtube Dante-enabled, IP addressable ceiling speaker
Spectrum Industries Tech Center Hub: It'll hold up to a 70" display, has a slide out whiteboard that is behind the display when not in use, and there is a whiteboard behind the display.
Wall-Smart Mounts for iPads and Crestron panels
Williams Sound IR T2 - Medium Area Infrared Transmitter. Ideal for assisted listening applications. courtrooms, and classrooms.

Hearing Hotspot HHS-108 to 132: Multiple audio channel input stream over WIFI. Uses app-based devices to receive audio. Up to 32 channels per box either analog or Dante.

Yamaha UC CS-700 video soundbar
Z-Band Z-IP Portal

While this list is by no means complete, it does help to see what's trending in the industry and how some manufacturers are either expanding, diversifying or adding to their product lines.

Having identified some of the best products at the show, it's also important to look at the products that seem to fly under the radar but are no less applicable or just plain cool.

Here's what they answered for those types of technologies:

Vendor

Flying Under the Radar

Analog Way SPX450-H 10-input Hi-resolution mixer and seamless switcher with four HDBaseT inputs and two mirrored HDMI outputs
Apantac openGear Frames: Allows having multiple cards (20) offering different capabilities to fit into a single card cage
Barco Barco UniSee: 55" bezel-less tiled LCD video wall platform
Biamp Devio SCR-20
Chief Vibration Isolating Coupler
Christie Digital Pandoras Box
Clockaudio CCRM 4000 / C 303W-RF
Digital Projection Radiance LED: Video wall with different pixel pitches ranging from 1.2-4.0, 100,000 hours of illumination with continuous 24/7 operation, and front accessible for servicing.
Hitachi LP-AW4001: LCD laser Ultra Short Throw up to 130" image size.
Newline Interactive X6 65" 4K display for collaboration
Planar CarbonLight
Polycom New software for SoundStructure called Howling Killer
QSC MP-A80V - 1 RU 8 channel amplifier
Samsung Curved desktop display
Shure Microflex Complete Digital Conference System which has built-in speakers and voting capabilities.
Sony Active Learning Solutions
Williams Sound Pointmaker Presenter VP S1: Highlight, annotate and maximize white-boarding tools via a wireless connection from your personal device to Pointmaker Presenter to room display 

Like the list before it, this isn't close to complete either. There are so many neat technologies at InfoComm that don't seem to step into the limelight. Maybe that's due to the sheer number of exhibitors at the show or maybe it's a modest booth design (might need more flashy lights or gadgets).

But, these manufacturers have solutions to growing needs within the industry, applicable devices, and innovative products. If you missed them this year, just wait for another year's worth of technology exploration, innovation and implementation to hit the show.

“I don’t think anybody could be here at InfoComm 18 and not recognize change,” Labuskes told Sound and Communications. “The pace of change in technology is absolutely reflected on this floor.”

[embed src="https://twitter.com/InfoComm/status/1005230004848824320"]

Top photo credit: AVIXA.

Dascom

DASCOM NOW POWERED BY AVI

Discover how Dascom Systems Group brings IPTV expertise to AVI

Learn More