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A Long-Expected Party

A Long-Expected Party

AV MANUFACTURERS TALK TRENDS, TECHNOLOGY FOR INFOCOMM 2015

The preparation stage of InfoComm 2015 is quickly coming to a close while manufacturers and integrators begin to anticipate the biggest trends they will see on the show floor this year. Walking the show floor at InfoComm each year, it’s fairly common to hear conversations around “what we’d like to bring to the table next year,” so it’s no surprise that companies are well prepared for this year’s show. Now, the wait is almost over—we’re only one month away from the industry’s biggest event, and manufacturers are busy putting together the last of their ideas to bring to InfoComm 2015, held this year in Orlando, FL, from June 13 to 19.

As manufacturers finalize their booths for InfoComm, it gives them an opportunity to focus on the aspects of this annual event that truly excite them. “This sounds a bit clichéd, but I’d say first and foremost, I’m looking forward to the continued growth of the industry,” said Stephen Kohler, senior director of marketing, Shure. “When you take a look at not just our industry but other industries outside of AV, you see that AV really is poised for growth. I think we should all be very excited about these growth opportunities. Also, this event is more than just growth—it’s about the people we work with. It’s a great group of passionate individuals that get to help people by providing solutions. That’s ultimately what it’s all about.”

“We’re always excited to meet and greet our customers and discuss their needs and wants for the years and coming years,” added Rick Seegull, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Aurora. “This is how we plan our future product offerings.”

Of course, attendees at InfoComm each year also anticipate the trends, technologies, and discussions that occur over the week, so they can use the information they gain to help build their business the rest of the year.

What’s Trending?
InfoComm is a one-stop shop for the latest in industry trends. Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of 4K, network audio, unified communications, and more, as they start as a discussion and develop into a technology that transforms the industry. Manufacturers are constantly working to create and adapt to new standards and trends, with the hope of providing integrators with a more comprehensive solution to their needs. With this precedence, manufacturers are coming into InfoComm this year looking for the newest technology trends, so they can better understand where the industry is headed and incorporate that knowledge into their latest products.

“We’re always looking for new technology to enhance visual experience creation,” said Mike Matthews, marketing operations manager at Nanolumens. “Audio systems, content management, and intelligence are all possibilities—any new process and innovation that will allow us to create forward-thinking, customized, high-end visualization solutions for our clients.”

This year, Matrox’s focus will be on demonstrating that latency is the final frontier in AV distribution over IP, to Samuel Racine, director of sales. 4K is still gaining a lot of buzz leading up to InfoComm this year, with both manufacturers and integrators looking for ways to incorporate the UHD format into their products.

“There’s a great deal of excitement around 4K—where it best delivers value, what are the preferred sources, what standards will guide the adoption trajectory and more,” explained Michael Bridwell, vice president, marketing and home entertainment with Digital Projection Inc. “This year should be a great show for researching the progress everyone’s making in that respect.”

Already, we’re seeing more and more Ultra HD/4K-ready products coming to fruition, but this doesn’t mean that integrators need to prepare for disruption or higher costs for clients looking to incorporate 4K into their projects. Bob Caniglia, senior regional manager, Eastern North America at Blackmagic Design, explained that going into InfoComm this year, attendees should keep their focus on network trends to learn new ways to adapt 4K into their installs.

“They need to be thinking about products that are going to work together across a network, from capturing, switching and recording, to streaming and archiving. Integrators also need products that are expandable and provide room to grow workflows. Features like the ability to work in SD, HD, and Ultra HD are helpful because they help to future proof the product,” Caniglia said.

“Personally, I’m very excited at what’s happening in wireless signal delivery, IP-distributed AV content, and the continued evolution of 4K infrastructure solutions,” added Tony Dowzall, president, Gefen. “Here at Gefen, we think 4K signal delivery is definitely gaining traction, and we’ll continue to see progress in the realm. As 4K over IP solutions hit the market, we think we’re going to see a quick uptake of IP in AV implementations. Let’s face it, with the ‘Internet of Things,’ everything will be connected.”

With standards like Dante, AVB, and HDBaseT playing larger roles in installations, integrators need to stay informed on how to implement these into their projects.

Christie’s senior product manager Mike Garrido said the most important thing to take away from InfoComm this year is to not fear pushing your boundaries. Attendees look to integrators to be imaginative, and in turn, manufacturers should be just as imaginative. “I’m interested in comparing AV distribution using HDBaseT to using IP networks, both of which have their strengths,” said Samuel Racine, director of sales, Matrox. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in the need for AV distribution over IP. Data and communications are already on IP, and AV still has a few fortresses not yet on there, but the convergence and the ability to hybridize data, communications, and AV is astounding, and the non-IP elements of AV distribution are becoming fewer and more specialized.”

Adaptive Markets
Learning the latest tech trends at InfoComm is just step one—integrators must also keep up with the latest markets and their demands, and find ways to incorporate the new technologies into the field. The collaboration between AV and IT continues to tighten the gap, causing manufacturers to develop products for those markets.

“As AV solutions continue to converge more closely with IT-based infrastructures, it’s extremely important for integrators to take advantage of the benefits gained by using networked media systems (NMS) as a tool for networked system requirements. Evolving away from isolated, analog systems, the NMS approach uses the assets of a client’s ethernet network to transport media while sharing both processing power and networking resources. As a result, integrators can maximize system capabilities, simplify overall administration, and support simultaneous applications throughout entire facilities without complicating the AV system design process,” explained Shell Haffner, director of product management, Biamp Systems.

Growth in unified communications is also exploding, according to Revolabs director of strategic and channel marketing, Randall Lee. “Revolabs created the FLX UC product family to answer the needs of this burgeoning trend. We’re most excited about introducing Info- Comm attendees to the newest members of this line, as well as debut a new line of wired and gooseneck microphones,” he said.

Corporate AV is another area that manufacturers are directing their attention toward, which requires them to develop solutions for boardrooms, huddle rooms, and the like.

“These meeting room technology solutions are powerful, yet elegant systems that integrate modern telephony and soft codec conferencing technology, DSP-enhanced sound reinforcement, third party device integration, and automated control,” said TJ Adams, project manager at DSP products, QSC.

“As the cost per square foot has increased in commercial spaces, we have seen more and more companies move their employees from offices to cubicles,” added AJ Shelat, vice president of sales for Hall Research. “The challenge with cubicles is that it is hard to host a small two- or four-person meeting in a cubicle, hence the need for smaller conference rooms, aka ‘huddle rooms.’ These spaces don’t need lavish AV systems that will wow their customer; what they need is a highly functional and easy-to-present space. Hall Research offers a slew of different solutions that cater to this space, and using a variety of solutions, we are able to give integrators the ability to customize their solution for their end user based on the system requirements.”

Over at Contemporary Research, they are developing tools for the entertainment markets, another growth sector in the industry.

“As a manufacturer of RF coax and IPTV solutions, we are hoping to share with integrators how our solutions for TV control and modulation can save clients thousands of dollars in initial cost and maintenance,” said Mathew B. Sittloh, sales vice president for Contemporary Research. “I’m most excited to spend time with our dealers, distributors, and consultants to understand their challenges with these markets.”

It’s A Learning Experience

At InfoComm 2015, Gefen will offer attendees the opportunity to experience real-world 4K Ultra HD gaming action with a live racing simulator at its booth. Possibly one of the most anticipated aspects of the InfoComm show each year is its packed schedule of educational and training sessions, geared toward helping AV professionals maintain knowledge of the industry’s trends and technologies. However, you don’t need to find a classroom to get the most out of your educational experience, as many manufacturers on the show floor are ready to enhance attendees’ learning experiences at the booth.

“It’s all about the importance of strengthening the contractor-manufacturer relationship,” said Gary Boss, marketing director, Audio-Technica. “We strive to be a valuable tech resource for contractors, not just a supplier of products. And the feedback we get in discussions with contractors is crucial to helping us develop and refine the products our customers need.”

Crestron’s director of global marketing campaigns, Jeff Singer, said he hopes attendees learn more about how to interact with IT professionals moving forward.

“Now that AV is digital, and more often going on network, IT managers are taking responsibility for those systems,” he said. “IT professionals expect repeatable systems that are scalable to hundreds or even thousands of rooms across an enterprise, a consistent user experience in every room, and managed network services that automatically detect failures to ensure high uptime. We’ll show our customers how to identify, design, and sell solutions based on a validated architecture suitable for enterprise-wide deployment to meet the needs of IT professionals.”

The most important learning experience that Christie’s Mike Garrido would like to share, “is that integrators and manufacturers should not be afraid to push the boundaries of imagination, design, or expectations. This year, we’ve had a number of opportunities to show customers and partners where it is that technology can take us. People look toward integrators to be imaginative in their solutions, and we should not disappoint.”

InfoComm 2015 is set for June 13 to 19, 2015 in Orlando, FL. Leading up to the show, SCN will highlight a range of training sessions, interviews with InfoComm leadership, commentary from integrators and consultants, statistics, infographics, and more.

Kelleigh Welch is managing editor of SCN.

The 2015 SCN Installation Product Awards

SCN is proud to announce that the finalists for the 2015 SCN Installation Product Awards are out! For more information, turn to page 43 and be sure to visit avnetwork.com/scn0515 to read more about the finalists and to cast your vote!

Training Professionals

Keeping up with the rapidly-changing world of AV can be a challenge. Luckily, InfoComm offers a hub for professionals to attend training sessions offered by manufacturers, so they can bring the knowledge of the latest technologies out into the field.

“The most direct benefit of these training sessions is the knowledge that you’re contributing to the overall industry,” commented Michael Bridwell, vice president, marketing and home entertainment, Digital Projection Inc. “You’re helping integrators sharpen their craft, which hopefully leads to a boost in confidence to tackle more and more difficult client needs.”

Gordon Moore, Lectrosonics vice president, sales, and chairman of InfoComm’s Professional and Education Training Committee, added that InfoComm’s training sessions can help professionals stay in touch too. “These courses are aimed at keeping you well-grounded in the basics while keeping you on the cutting edge of the industry and where it’s going. CTS certifications will prove to be more and more valuable as the pertinent technologies continue to advance,” he said.

While many companies are still finalizing their schedules, here’s a taste of what to expect in training at InfoComm 2015:

* Vaddio is offering two classes this year: “Simplifying Your Automated Lecture Capture Classroom,” which discusses the improved PC-based soft-clients and new AV automation technology for the classroom; and “Gamma, Chroma and Detail Oh My… The Video Ins and Outs,” which covers the camera systems Vaddio offers, what they are used for, and how to recommend which one.

* Shure will host a session titled “Wireless Mics, The New Spectrum Landscape,” on June 18, led by systems support engineer Gina Sigismondi. On June 19, systems support engineer Dave Mendez and product manager Doug Danbe will give an in-depth look at Shure’s Microflex Wireless.

* Alcorn McBride will offer a two-day product training class that will cover the basics of the company’s audio, video, and lighting products, along with its show control systems. Equipment is provided to give trainees a hands-on experience.

* Digital Projection Inc. will host two classes this year: one on the successful deployment and characteristics of a 4K projection application, and a second on presenting a deep-dive on the topics of projection warp and blend and advanced projection control.

* Vitec will offer a CTS-certified RU course titled “IP Video Distribution & Monitoring—Systems Design and Implementation,” presented by Robert Mautino, senior systems engineer.

* Meyer Sound will host three training courses: “Principles of Live Mixing,” with instructor Buford Jones on June 17; “Mix It Up—Live Audio Workshop,” with instructor Buford Jones on June 17; and “Deploying Large-Scale AVB Networks,” with Jeff Koftinoff on June 19.

* Middle Atlantic will have Legrand technology evangelist Joe Cornwall on hand at its booth throughout the show. Cornwall will also host a three-day certified training course in applied design, along with several shorter classes on topics including “The AV Technologies That Will Define the Next Five Years” and “Understanding Digital Video Formats.”

* Crestron is offering several manufacturer training courses during InfoComm that cover the latest technology integrators and consultants’ clients are asking for, from managed AV networks and group collaboration solutions, to 4K distribution and enterprise management.