It’s almost here: a year of research, development, and exhaustive planning will soon culminate in four days of scintillating splendor across the halls of the Orange County Convention Center. Then, like a Florida afternoon thunderstorm, it’ll be over as quickly as it starts—leaving the industry basking in a warm, new light.

BRI HERMANSON

InfoComm 2017 is poised to be the largest incarnation of the annual gathering to date, with projections from InfoComm International of 40,000 attendees from 100 different countries, 1,000-plus exhibitors, 24 audio demo rooms, and a half-million square feet of exhibit space. For even the speediest among us, that’s just too much to cover in the limited time of the show. Feeling overwhelmed already?

The organization is sympathetic to your stress. When it inevitably hits, there’s a new addition to the show floor this year: “InfoComm Park,” an 18,000-square-foot recreation area in Hall E, which InfoComm’s Jason McGraw said will have trees, benches, music, and food trucks, so attendees can take a moment to relax. “It’s really going to be the place for networking and meet-ups, and fun,” he said. Other anxiety-attenuating developments include increased shuttle bus service, a revamped food court (McGraw reported that much of the convention center itself has been renovated), and more directional signage around the concourse.

InfoComm has also taken measures to help attendees better focus their attention once the exhibit floor opens. On Tuesday, June 13, in partnership with the IMCCA, InfoComm will host Emerging Trends Day, a series of presentations by industry experts on topics like audio, video, and control, followed by Q&A sessions and a chance to speak one-on-one about trends that are poised to define the industry. “It’s a great primer to know if this is your topic, here are the five or six things you can go to during the show,” said David Danto, IMCCA’s director of emerging technologies.

So what are the big things to look out for? InfoComm, for one, sees the importance of virtual and augmented reality—an area of increasing mainstream visibility in terms of entertainment, but one that holds vast potential for professional use. Located between the Digital Signage and Unified Communications pavilions on the show floor will be the all-new Immersive Pavilion, offering a hands-on look at new VR, AR, and 360-degree video technologies, so attendees can stay abreast of new developments and position themselves as experts on this burgeoning category.

Now in its third year, the Innovation Showcase will bring together 20 carefully selected companies that haven’t exhibited at the show before, giving attendees a chance to peruse a range of interesting new inventions. “It’s exciting to be able to stumble upon new solutions,” McGraw said. “We have the best of both worlds: we have all the major brands out there, and we’re also fostering and helping to develop new companies into the market place and highlight the products they’re bringing to market.”

In preparation, we’ve surveyed a range of exhibitors about the trends, technologies, and special events they have on their radar.

Jim Schanz, Senior Director, Pro Systems Sales, Shure Incorporated
We are seeing IT and AV integration going even deeper, with an increase in software-enabled interoperability between ecosystems. For example, Shure’s latest innovations such as MicroFlex Advance ceiling and table array microphones, and SystemOn audio asset management software are two convenient solutions that offer easy integration with existing AV/IT infrastructure.

Earl Naegele, Managing Director, Commercial Sales, Peerless-AV
One of the “can’t-miss” activities at this year’s show is Center Stage. Our own Brian McClimans will be presenting with Daytona’s Rodney Ward about the speedway’s technology. Attendees should also look for solutions with increased interactivity. At booth 901, we’ll be showcasing our new line of portrait kiosks as well as our new vertical lift cart—solutions that both create a custom, interactive experience for end users.

Mark Tracy, VP of Marketing, Middle Atlantic Products
Middle Atlantic strives to engineer great infrastructure solutions that help integrators deliver exceptional AV experiences that wow their customers. For InfoComm17, we’re creating an experience that demonstrates how we solve today’s integration challenges, plus a peek into the future. Building on our legacy of innovation, we will showcase a host of new products, including technology-ready conference tables and all-in-one lecterns, vertical IP power strips, new display mounts, and a wall-mount rack unlike anything on the market.

Chaz Porter, Director of Global Sales, FSR
Integrators and consultants can anticipate technology developed to maximize space, improve collaboration, and provide convenient charging solutions. The trend for creative storage and connection points in walls and ceilings continues as available space shrinks. Collaboration end users are seeking maximum features packed into the smallest footprint, and smartphone/tablet charging—wired and/or wireless—has to be incorporated into every installation. 4K video is the present standard and customers want options for scaling and signal extension.

Jack Gershfeld, President, Altinex
IP-based video switching is on the move. Many companies are pushing forward to make it a standard way to deploy medium- to large-scale HDMI matrix switching. IP-based video switching’s difficult and time-consuming setup is being replaced with plug-and-play configuration and simple switching commands. AV over IP will change AV systems infrastructure and will simplify installation, support, and remote management.

Clint Hoffman, COO, Kramer Electronics
The most significant shift in our industry is the move from hardware-based to software-based AV signal management and distribution. This brings with it a resulting devaluing of hardware as a profit center, which also brings shift to software and managed services. “Cloud” storage and delivery of content is probably the best example: there is no need to possess physical media to play back and view content. It can simply be called up from a server.

John Henkel, Director of Product Marketing, RGB Spectrum
There’s a current trend of manufacturers dabbling in networked AV—companies that have never sold video processing equipment. It is important for integrators and consultants to get real information versus marketing hype. Seeing products working in real-world situations versus canned demos provide clients with the assurance the solution will work for their customers. For example, at this year’s InfoComm show, we’ll have five real-world technology areas demonstrating how our encoders, decoders, video wall processors, and multiviewers are actually used.

Mark Donovan, Applications Engineering Manager, Audio-Technica
Network-centric solutions continue to drive the audio market into audio-over-IP with options like Dante. The U.S. market is beginning to accept the efficiency that a discussion system can provide. The recent conclusion of the FCC auction reemphasizes the need to consider all wireless options. Many fall outside the traditional UHF TV spectrum. At InfoComm 2017, Audio-Technica will be featuring our Dante-enabled microphones, our turnkey discussion system, and alternative band wireless solutions.

John McMahon, Vice President, Solutions and Strategy, Meyer Sound
We expect “immersive” to be a common buzzword around the show. Immersive sound works with complementary visuals to fully involve individuals and audiences in experiencing AV content. We will be bringing our complete immersive toolkit, including Constellation and Space Map, to the Meyer Sound demo room. Also, we are developing some exclusive content that will once again make our system demos a must-see at InfoComm.

Scott McGarrigle, CTO, Utelogy
Anything that speaks to enterprise IT should be on show attendees’ radar. Companies like Zoom, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Amazon, Apple, and others are offering solutions for AV that look and feel very different from traditional AV designs and solutions. Many of these solutions are pure software and gather meaningful data that is supporting Internet of Things (IoT) efforts. This data can tell us how technology is contributing to student learning outcomes and other business outcomes.

Harry Ostaffe, Director, Product Marketing, Black Box
One of the continued trends in the AV market is the use of IP networking and the cloud to enable new products and services. Wireless presentation and collaboration solutions use local Wi-Fi, enterprise Wi-Fi, and the internet for single-room or multi-site collaboration. AV over IP for video extension and distribution is widely adopted, and high-performance KVM is increasingly moving to IP for the switching infrastructure and to provide access across the WAN/internet for cloud-based workflows.

TJ Adams, Director, Install Systems Product Management, QSC
For QSC, the biggest trend is the development of platforms that behave like IT solutions in terms of scalability, flexibility, and integration. We believe our industry will begin to shift from standalone, single-purpose hardware to a standards-based IT platform and architecture. QSC was the first manufacturer to demonstrate the next evolution of this design paradigm by decoupling existing audio, video, and control software from proprietary hardware, allowing centralized AVC to live in the datacenter.

Justin Kennington, Strategic and Technical Marketing Director, AptoVision
Integrators and consultants should inform themselves about the new AV-over-IP paradigm: Software Defined Video Over Ethernet. Education is particularly important now that every major manufacturer of AV signal management gear seems to have an IP solution and disturbingly, many are making overblown claims. As a founding member of the SDVoE Alliance, AptoVision will be part of the extensive training program offered at InfoComm and help clear the confusion.

David Schweer, Director of Product Marketing, Prysm
At InfoComm17, the most important realization for enterprises on a digital transformation path is that they can no longer afford to be locked into one technology platform. They must realize that user satisfaction can only be met with best-of-breed workflow enhancements and a software- and hardware-agnostic platform. Integrators and consultants must work with companies to architect collaboration solutions that empower the use of any technology, anywhere, at any time to enable their customers’ businesses to evolve.

Jeff Singer, Executive Director of Product Marketing, Crestron
At the Crestron booth, the focus is on simple, scalable, secure, and standards-based enterprise room solutions. The game-changing Mercury all-in-one meeting room solution supports any web collaboration application rather than lock you into just one. The new DigitalMedia NVX Series is the only secure network AV solution that delivers 4K60, 4:4:4, and HDR video over standard 1Gb Ethernet. New enterprise-grade TSW room scheduling touchscreens and SSW Room Availability Hallway Sign directly and securely connect to standard calendar platforms.