How CES 2012 Will Influence Commercial AV by Christopher Maione, CTS-D

Recently back from Las Vegas and indeed, CES is electronics overload. Never mind the technology, the show itself is overwhelming with 1.8 million square feet of convention floor space and 150,000 of your closest friends attending. I make it a point to attend this show every year to get a pulse on the technology that is up and coming and to see just what from the consumer world will be making its way into our commercial world. As an industry analyst and armed with press credentials, my focus is on finding the consumer electronic technologies that will likely trickle into our professional lives and businesses. So cutting through the thousands of gizmos, here are the items that I think will be making their way into commercial AV this year.

LG Flat Panels – LG showed the most impressive and thinnest OLED flat panel I‘ve ever seen. The guarded and roped off booth area (they wouldn’t let you get too close) showed bright, brilliant displays which were nearly as thin as a credit card (actual thickness 4 mm).

These panels were demonstrating the most incredible 3D content I have ever seen and I wasn’t alone in my amazement as I shared the booth space with a crowd that was six deep in front of the displays. The custom produced demo content was jaw dropping – taking 3D to an entirely new level.

Samsung – Galaxy Note – This was one of the hottest PDA’s at the show and Samsung did a brilliant marketing job having artists throughout the convention center and on the corners of the Las Vegas strip drawing your caricature on the device and then emailing you the image. Attendees lined up for over an hour to have their pictures drawn. The Samsung booth included thousands of caricature images made from all over the world. Of particular interest was the PDA’s “Note” application which was far more advanced than other tablet note / sketch programs. In considering its application for professional use, it would be an excellent tool for jobsite notes or field sketches which could be prepared on-the-spot and sent out to the project team instantly.

Vidyo – Multipoint Videoconference Bridging
Vidyo provides a variety of software applications which provide “HD Videoconferencing without boundaries.” Their product line includes applications which will allow you to videoconference from just about any type of videoconference device including room systems, telepresence suites, portable systems, desktops, laptops, or even your PDA. This is amazing technology which finally “links” all the various videoconferencing platforms and provides interoperability. Keep an eye on this company.

Cloud Services
Just about every company at the show now had some sort of “cloud service” where their product or services could be backed up, controlled and/or accessible via “their cloud”. This growing trend is interesting but I do have concerns about all the information and data which could potentially be acquired from cloud services….like, is it really secure – and how will the companies use this data? Also – does anybody really know how big this cloud thing is? It’s certainly something we need to get our arms and our heads around to best leverage its capabilities without potential liabilities.

Ski Goggles with Heads Up Display
OK – I have to throw this one gizmo in – as a skier this caught my eye. Recon Instruments is a company making an electronic “insert” for ski goggles which, in essence, turn the goggles into a heads-up display. So I say to myself, why would I need a heads-up display in my ski goggles? And then the demo began. I put on the goggles and they activate “the chip” and in the lower ban of my view appears information on my speed, altitude and degrees of incline. Connected to my PDA the heads up display shows the names of incoming calls and text messages. Now I’m giggling at this technology when the next screen blows me away and overlays the mountain’s ski map trails and lift locations over my actual position.

So CES 2012 leaves us with new and improved tools that will inevitably have an impact in commercial AV – whether it’s from unbelievably thin flat panels, PDA’s that pack a punch and great new applications, boundary-less video-conferencing, looming cloud services or gizmos that you have to see to believe. As for me in 2012, I’m prepared to meet it all head on, right after I get myself a pair of those goggles.

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Christopher Maione, CTS-D, DSCE, is president of Christopher Maione Associates, a firm specializing in all aspects of AV business, technologies, emerging trends and marketing strategy. Serving as an InfoComm Adjunct Faculty member since as well as on several standards committees, he continues to promote the betterment of the AV industry through his extensive involvement. Reach him at cmaione@chrismaione.com.