Always craving the adrenaline rush, thrill seekers for decades have traveled across the world in search of the best roller coasters to fill this constant need for excitement. Like the great skyscraper races of the early 20th century, designers of these colossal amusement titans are always at war for the number one spot on the adrenaline junkie’s list, pushing the limits on height, speed, and more.
The earliest appearances of roller coasters can be traced back to Russia, where riders would barrel down an icy, 70-foot mountain slope in a wooden sled. During the warmer months, these sleds were replaced with wheeled vehicles and a fixed wooden ramp, opening the way for today’s modern attractions. But what is it about the roller coaster that attracts millions to amusement parks each year? Some would say it’s the build up to that first drop—you sit strapped in your seat patiently, anticipating the moment when you pass that first hill and plummet down into a 60 second adventure that leaves you energized and wanting more.
For the AV professional, the anticipation of InfoComm is like that first hill before the drop—we work tirelessly to prepare our presentations, show booths, training sessions, etc., all for one week of excitement that seems to end as soon as it begins. For one week a year, we ride that roller coaster trying to absorb as much information as we can, riding the high from our conversations to bring back all the excitement from the show to our businesses throughout the year. And like those roller coaster innovators, always trying to top their previous designs, InfoComm’s leadership works to add new and exciting elements to the show each year, keeping up with the evolving industry.
Held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL from June 13 to 19, the theme for this year’s show resides in the ‘Exceptional Experience’—asking how we can create an exceptional experience for our customers by utilizing the content, space, and technology available.
“This show is about technology and solutions. Every booth, from the smallest to the largest exhibitors, all of them are an opportunity to see technologies that are available to use with clients,” said David Labuskes, executive director and CEO at InfoComm International. “It’s really important for attendees to plan their days prior to the show.”
And plan we will! With the show floor opening up on June 17, there’s an opportunity outside of the classroom to see the latest technologies up close and talk with experts about what applications these products are suited for.
New to the show this year is the Innovations Showcase, one of the show floor’s pavilions, with displays of technology solutions from 20 new companies never before seen at InfoComm. A presentation area will allow each company to demo their product, and attendees will be able to vote for the most innovative product. The winner will receive a prize of $10,000.
“There’s also a networking area for those companies to meet with prospective dealers,” added Jason McGraw, vice president of expositions at InfoComm International.
The Unmanned Systems and Drone Pavilion is also expected to draw a big crowd this year, McGraw said. Sponsored by Stampede and working with the Unmanned Vehicle University, attendees can see drones in action in an enclosed area, and learn more about how the technology plays into AV.
“We’re offering demos, training, and business opportunities, so we can better understand drone technology,” McGraw said.
Returning pavilions for 2015 include: Audio, Digital Signage, Lighting and Staging, Security, Unified Communications and Collaboration, and the Technologies for Worship (TFWM) Experience.
Off the show floor, the education and training opportunities allow attendees to keep up with the latest technologies and standards within the industry. In the past, InfoComm had a reputation for being more of an executive show, but over the years, companies have found more value in sending more employees to InfoComm’s training sessions. Now, InfoComm offers all levels of its installation classes, to accommodate the increase of attendees at the show each year.
“It’d be a terrible shame for someone to come to the show and not take advantage of the opportunities we have in training and education,” McGraw said. “We have a lot more courses this year for the advanced student, particularly in the AV/IT unit. Some of the stuff that draws the biggest crowds are our classes on future trends and technologies. These topics continue to draw an enormous amount of attention.”
“We just crossed our 10,000th CTS holder. We’ve been doing this for a number of years at the show—it’s an opportunity to renew your certification. We also offer CTS pre-classes and you can take the CTS on site,” Labuskes added.
Both McGraw and Labuskes urged attendees to catch this year’s opening keynote, a panel of leaders from Cisco, Crestron, Harman, and Samsung, who will discuss “The Internet of Things”—specifically its future, applications, and impact on the industry. Panelists include: Fred Bargetzi, chief technology officer, Crestron Electronics; Ron Gazzola, vice president of marketing, Samsung; Dr. I.P. Park, chief technology officer, Harman International; and Mike Walker, director of operations, Global Customer Experience Center, Cisco. Nick Bilton, lead technology writer and reporter at The New York Times, will moderate the panel.
Of course, even with the packed offerings at InfoComm this year, one of the most important aspects lies in networking—that is, meeting other members of the vast AV industry and having meaningful conversations.
“Attendees should plan out their evenings too, to maximize the time they have there at the heart and soul of the industry,” said Labuskes. “There’s networking opportunities sprinkled throughout the show. We can create the opportunities, but it’s their responsibility to get everything out of the show that they want.”
Kelleigh Welch is managing editor of SCN. Follow her on Twitter @kelleighwelch.