The two days prior to an InfoComm exhibition traditionally host the Projection Summit -- an executive-level conference that draws representatives of manufacturers from across the display technology spectrum.
If the exhibition is justly famed for its ability to showcase a huge range of new professional audiovisual products, then the Summit deserves some credit of its own. If it weren't for the Summit, it's doubtful if many of the products shown at each InfoComm would appear in their final form, if indeed they appeared at all.
In my previous role as Editor of Installation Europe magazine, I've attended the last six InfoComm shows. Each time, I would fly into the host city from London, tired and severely jet-lagged, on the very eve of the show -- barely hours before the ribbon was cut to signal the exhibition's opening.
This year, in my new position as Editor-At-Large for the Systems Group of NewBay Media, I've arrived in Los Angeles a full three days before the exhibition. As well as enabling me to tour the show floor with at least a vague feeling that I am in the right timezone, this schedule has had the added bonus of letting me attend a Projection Summit for the first time.
This year's Summit, hosted jointly by Insight Media and McLaughlin Consulting Group, has been taking place at the Anaheim Marriott hotel. Here, some 28 speakers have delivered presentations on a wide range of subjects, from multi-projection systems to wireless connectivity.
One of the key issues facing R&D engineers in our industry is that of projection light sources, with a number of existing and as yet unproven technologies vying for developers' imaginations -- and budgets.
One presentation, given by Bernd Straehler, Business Unit Manager at Osram DisplayOptic, caught my imagination. As one of the few manufacturers to produce discharge lamps, LEDs, and lasers, Osram is well-placed to comment on current and future trends because it has no particular technological axe to grind.
Straehler paints an intriguing picture in which lasers will be used for a new generation of embedded 'pico' projectors over the next year or two, LEDs will increasingly be used in portable DLP and LCD projectors, while discharge lamps will consolidate their position in large-screen applications -- driven by end-user demands for ever larger screen diagonals, married to higher brightness and contrast.
"Discharge-lamp development is still going on, and creating new opportunities," says Straehler, dispelling the myth that LEDs will soon be providing the light for the vast majority of projection systems. "In fact, we believe discharge lamps will be the dominant force in front projection for the foreseeable future."
Another myth to be shown the door -- at least potentially -- at the Projection Summit was the notion that HD video cannot be delivered wirelessly without some kind of compression. Noam Geri, V.P. Marketing & Business Development for Amimon, demonstrated his company's WHDI solution, which enables uncompressed 1080p video to be transmitted at rates of up to 3Gbps in the unlicensed 5GHz RF band -- reportedly at the same quality as a wired connection, and with no latency.
This caught the eye of one of my fellow first-time Summit attendees, Ron Olisar of Maxim Integrated Products. Over a substantial meat-loaf and apple-pie lunch -- which, as with so many of these events, provides a matchless networking opportunity as well as much-needed sustenance for delegates -- Olisar explained to me the significance of wireless HD video.
"In digital signage applications, connecting HD displays together is a significant cost," explains Olisar, whose company develops semiconductors for a range of audiovisual applications. "If those connections can be done wirelessly without noticeable signal loss, then that will have significant implications for future product development."
Market research also plays a key role at the Projection Summit, as manufacturers take soundings from a range of sources on the latest sales, technology, and application trends. Among the research professionals presenting was Sanju Khatri, Principal Analyst at iSuppli.
"Our presentation this year focused on commercial displays of all kinds, from the smallest LCD and plasma panel to rear projection and LED walls," says Khatri. "Projection Summit is the perfect forum for our data, because the research that we do today helps to shape the direction of manufacturers' research and development tomorrow."
I couldn't have put it better myself.