Touching Trends & Key Products from InfoComm '12

Touching Trends & Key Products from InfoComm '12

Touch. Multi-Touch. Multi-Multi Touch. Overlay & Annotate. Touchscreens. Touch-Walls.

This year we saw the show floor “covered” with large flat-panel displays and embedded touchscreen capability. It seems like every flat-panel wants to grow up and be just like an iPad. Each of the key flat-panel manufacturers had on display their version of this (not so new) technology. However, what’s new is “multi-touch” (aka the iPad technology) is now being offered as an embedded or packaged solution for large display flat-panels. This technology is now affordable, and we can expect to see more multi-touch and annotation flat-panels in both the corporate workplace, and certainly educational facilities. The whiteboard’s job is in danger as the next generation of students will be raised on video display and touchscreen technologies.

Absent from the “Big 3” was Extron — but both AMX and Crestron had their large booths in full swing.

I still find it interesting Extron pulled out of the show — I would have at least liked to see some booth presence — perhaps just their new and improved product lines. I’m glad both AMX and Crestron remained a strong presence at the show — and with great after-show events.

The Analog Sun Has Set
In the world of digital signal processing, we saw AMX and Crestron go toe-to-toe with small, medium, and large size matrix switchers for distributing digital AV signals from point A to point B. Digital switching is here to stay—the analog sun has set, and going forward tech managers must look to replace old analog systems and go forward with an end-to-end digital solution. Expect to say good bye to VGA soon.

Enterprise-Level Management
My seminar “Managing Multiple AV Facilities” was clearly stacked this year with more IT managers now responsible for AV. This was the first year (of the last four) where there were more IT-centric people in the class than AV folks. When I discussed “enterprise“ level management of AV systems, the group applauded. I realized at that moment AV and IT had not only converged but we were being swallowed up by the world of IT administration that now needed to look at AV and videoconference endpoints more seriously—and at the enterprise level. The discussion ensued that any company, facility, or education institution with more than 40 AV/VC rooms fell into the category of “enterprise” and the approach for support, management, and maintenance of AV / VC systems was clearly needed.

Displays and Apple TV
What we didn’t see at the show, unfortunately, was any product making an attempt at a commercial version of Apple TV, providing wireless display of an iPad onto a video projector of large flat panel display.

Panasonic now has a 150-inch diagonal plasma screen with an MSRP just under a half a million bucks. No thanks, I will stick with video projection for any application requiring this size image.

Energy Management
The long awaited AV Energy Management standard was finally wrapped up and submitted to ANSI for approval. Once this “standard” is approved the AV world will be yet again challenged at designing, engineering and implementing AV products and systems which will allow consultants and AV system integrators to meet the standards’ detailed requirements for AV energy monitoring, conservation and reporting / logging.

On that note, there were a fair amount of products and systems which targeted energy management—moving toward integrated building technologies. The verdict is still out as to if the AV world can make inroads into the Building Management Systems (BMS) and other Integrated Building Technologies (IBT) but if any industry has the understanding of integration, it is ours. This is another area that we need to embrace, and challenge ourselves to face head on with innovation and determination to see it become a profitable part of our world.

In general, despite positive reviews from the exhibitors and attendees that I spoke with, the show floor seemed a bit light. However, the stats reported 34,000 attendees, which was an increase from last year.

If you would like another “View From The Road” on the show, please see the comments from my esteemed colleague David Danto, Director at the Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance (IMCCA).

Christopher Maione, CTS-D, is president of Christopher Maione Associates, a firm specializing in all aspects of AV business, technologies, emerging trends, and marketing strategy. He serves as an InfoComm Adjunct Faculty member as well as on several standards committees. He is a frequent contributor to AV Technology. Reach him at