Ben Bausher, senior consultant at Jaffe Holden’s Audio & Video Systems Group said he’s excited to see the new offerings for budget-friendly mixers this year. In just a few short weeks, AV’s most anticipated event will once again open its doors to the thousands of integrators, manufacturers, engineers, designers, end users, and more for the annual InfoComm Show. This week-long event combines training sessions, lectures, and special events with a trade show floor filled with the latest products from over 900 companies. With InfoComm serving as one of the year’s most comprehensive hubs for AV, integrators are busy making a list of everything they need to see.
“On a philosophical note, this year’s Info- Comm is occurring when our industry is at a massive fork in the road,” said Joey D’Angelo, vice president at Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc. “One path leads toward a robust, reliable tried and true, hardware-heavy, proprietary path forward, and it works with world-class support, great margins, and deeply respected or entrenched relationships. The other path offers a burgeoning, cost effective, network-based, hardware-light, shared, standards-based, and challenging path forward with a steep learning curve.”
Joey D'Angelo, vice president at Charles M. Salter Associates, has a specific plan ready to go in terms of 4K, so he can learn everything he can about which options are most-cost effective. With a multitude of new product introductions, AVI Systems’ senior vice president of enterprise technologies Brad Sousa will be watching for companies promoting new specifications, “however, the big interest for us is the development of APIs and software,” he said. “Our focus continues to be on how these systems integrate, not just what they do. For AVI Systems, our interest continues to be in the area of APIs and software integration that enables the technologies we bring, to integrate into existing workflow software tools already in place.”
While software-based products continue to gain ground, many integrators are still on the lookout for hardware-based solutions. Last year, 4K led the pack at InfoComm, and now manufacturers have moved forward, developing more products that can support 4K.
One thing I’m going to do this year is approach every manufacturer with a 4K distribution and switching solution, and price out a 6x4 matrix with three 4K inputs sources, three 1080p input sources, and four scaled 4K output sources capable of spanning at least 200 feet,” D’Angelo said. “I’m really interested to see which option is the most cost-effective for a corporate environment.”
Video and audio over IP is another solution integrators are monitoring, with the hope to see if the technology has matured.
“Aurora has been advertising some compelling IP streaming solutions, or ‘IPBaseT’ as they call it,” said Dan Barton, senior consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke. “The idea of a single device that can be configured as either a transmitter or a receiver is very cool, and certainly convenient. On paper it has all the right features, including 4K support and even a Dante option card, but does it deliver?”
John Greene of Advanced AV is all about simplicity—how can companies provide solutions that easily fit the demands of a space without getting too over the top with features. Ben Bausher, senior consultant at Jaffe Holden’s Audio & Video Systems Group, said he’s watching for updates to UC systems, along with seeing a new generation of under $10K level digital mixers. “There have been some really exciting new releases in the past month or two, and it will be great to see how these will be able to help our clients who don’t have the big budgets to really streamline their workflow and cabling requirements in ways that were previously only accessible in the higher budget range of products,” he said.
Simplicity continues to be a buzzword among integrators, who said they are on the lookout for technologies that not only work, but make the job easier for them and their clients.
“We design and build systems for what is possible while the demand is growing toward simplifying to what the space needs to do,” explained John Greene of Advanced AV. “Do not overcomplicate this space with features I will not need.”
Mobility ties into this demand for simplicity too. Many software-based applications are being catered to smartphones and tablets, giving integrators a mobile, easy to use solution to control installations.
“Features like an easy to use touchscreen and speech recognition are becoming an expectation of users for the professional workplace,” Barton said. “There are also an immense number of consumer manufacturers releasing inexpensive products, such as camera trackers and table UC solutions with AEC and noise cancelling built in. I want to know what manufacturers will offer solutions that bridge the gap between consumer devices and the professional audiovisual world.”
Dan Barton, senior consultant at Shen Milsom & Wilke said he wants to know what solutions bridge the gap between consumer devices and the pro AV world. Cloud-based AV solutions can have a major impact on infrastructure design and system design, and many markets are still wary of adopting it; however, the solution as whole continues to make ground.
“Security concerns are a driving factor in accepting cloud and providing allowance and access to an entire client infrastructure,” Greene explained. “However, at the edge of that network is an ample need for a quick, prompt, and effective delivery of technology, solutions that can be dialed up and taken down based on timing and staffing needs.”
Of course, this list only provides a taste of what to look for at InfoComm this year. Manufacturers are already teasing their latest solutions for all ends of the industry, from wireless, to collaboration solutions, to video, LED, audio, and more.
“One of the best pieces of InfoComm Show advice I ever received was ‘spend your time exploring the small booths around the perimeter of the floor; that’s where the best problem solvers are,’” said Barton. “That is typically where I have found the innovators that have the ingenuity to think of something no one else has yet.”