ISE Amsterdam a Huge Success; Big Trends Are In Play
The organizers and exhibitors of the Integrated Systems Europe held their breath to see if the biggest AV trade show outside of North America would be relevant in the middle of an international economic crisis. Exhale. It was a record-breaking show in terms of size and attendance. At this writing final figures have not been released, but it appears that the show surpassed the 24,000-attendee mark – up from 22,199 last year. The number of exhibitors increased as well. I had the good fortune to be at the show, walk the aisles, and talk to several exhibitors who seemed pleasantly surprised at the turnout, traffic, and quality of attendees. There were three major trends going on that got me pretty pumped about the health of our industry.
I projected my first 3D movie as a young AV tech in the 80’s. At that time 3D was used in medical imaging. Surgeons could better learn how to do challenging operations if they could see the relationship between all those squiggly parts. If you’ve been watching broadcast television – especially the Super Bowl – 3D is all the rage again. Many of the major television broadcasters believe 3D TV is the next frontier towards the ultimate viewer experience. This goes way beyond the House of Wax’s thriller effects. Today’s 3D is about enhancing the high definition experience by further reducing our awareness of the screen in our field of view. At ISE, 3D products abounded. 3D-ready projectors and displays were showcased and demos of active and passive 3D were readily available. There was even a booth with 3D imaging tools and camera systems. Practical uses for 3D were the order of the day instead of just talking about how cool it was. I would expect a lot of new products to be shown at InfoComm this year. And of course, 3D will make a big impact in the high-end residential (resi-mercial) and digital signage markets.
Speaking of practical applications for one-time AV parlor tricks: touch screen has become truly tactile. ISE was home to dozens of new and innovative products utilizing pressure sensitive displays. It was a marriage of touch screen and 3D. Add to that interactive white board technology and you get a highly creative and collaborative tool. One big challenge for live event folks is reproducing a tactile effect on a large screen in front of a live audience. Well, Lang AG of Germany has invented a laser sensor array that lets the presenter control a large screen like a touch panel. Most impressive.
ISE covers half a dozen exhibit halls, some with technology themes. Every floor (plus the outdoor main entrances) had major LED exhibits. All the genres were represented: high-end video, billboards, digital signage, and special effects. There were several good examples of flexible, low-density LED products that were simply engineered and ready to use. I can also say that there some pretty ugly images on some screens, but everyone had plenty of customers in their booths.
So ISE was an inspiring event for me. The attendees and exhibitors were both pleased to see each other. The exhibitors were thrilled with the turnout and the attendees were relieved that so many manufacturers made a commitment to be there. The outlook was positive but realistic. I spoke with a lot of North American manufacturers who were very glad they participated this year. I believe they will take a positive message back to their teams and rededicate themselves to helping their integrators win new business.
For the North American buyer, I highly recommend a trip to ISE next year. It has a different flavor from InfoComm even though you will find most of your more familiar manufacturers there. Yes, there are a lot of products being shown that are not distributed in North America, but in today’s global economy I don’t think you can afford to not know more about what’s out there.