Three Big Trends to Look For at InfoComm 2016

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I can already feel the sweat. Despite the “it’s a dry heat” mantra people will inevitably espouse, it will be hot the second week of June in Las Vegas when roughly 40,000 AV professionals come together for InfoComm 2016, North America’s largest professional audiovisual trade show.

InfoComm represents a tremendous opportunity for audiovisual professionals: consultants, end-users, and integrators alike. There will be more than 1,000 exhibitors for the first time in the show’s history, spanning the categories of audio, video, control, streaming, and drones. In fact, InfoComm can be intimidating due to its size and breadth, especially for first-time attendees. I’m not exactly a grizzled vet—though some days I do look older than others—and I still can get overwhelmed at InfoComm. To make it easy, and keep it simple, I’m focusing on a few key areas this summer that will have a dramatic influence on the future of our industry.

1. Moving from Hardware to Software: The AV Industry will never fully eliminate hardware; it’s just not possible, but it certainly can do better than it has in the past. Our industry has always been known for overly complex solutions to accomplish simple tasks, often involving a myriad of widgets between source and screen. That must get better. More AV applications/environments need to be software-based, not appliance-based, for long-term success.

2. IT-Centric Technology: This is similar to the move from hardware to software, but it is important for an entirely different reason. More and more AV departments at end-user sites are being gobbled up, becoming a subset of IT, similar to the telephony departments in the days of yore. This is the evolution (I don’t expect Rome to be built in a day) of true enterprise management. Manufactures need to have a plan (even if it’s just on the near-term roadmap) for address IT-level enterprise management. A kluge of web servers, or bare-bones API over ethernet isn’t going to cut it long term for companies looking to deploy hundreds or thousands of devices.

3. Scalability: Part of moving away from hardware and focusing on IT-centric technology means an improvement in the scalability of products. Traditionally, at least in the presentation switcher world, users faced a step-scale paradigm. Users could select 4x4, 8x8, 16x16, and 32x32 matrices and so on (up to 128x128!). However, the user needing 4x32 often paid an exceptional price for such a lopsided application. Platforms (and I use the term idealistically) need to be scalable.

Aside from the technology, InfoComm offers a plethora of networking opportunities. Take a moment, wherever you find yourself—a manufacturer’s demo room, social reception, tweetup, hotel lobby etc—and say hello to someone who is unfamiliar to you. You never know, you might just bump into someone who could change your future, or vice versa.

Mike Brandes is a product manager for a leading AV manufacturer, and has previously been an applications engineer and higher-ed technolgoy manager. Follow him on twitter, @mikebrandesav, or his personal blog mikebrandesav.com.

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