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InfoComm 2017: scores high on interest.

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No longer the world’s largest AV event, InfoComm 2017 perhaps has a justifiable claim to be the claim to be the world’ most interesting. Here, we review the key developments in leading application areas.

InfoComm International is the world’s largest ProAV event in much the same way as World Series baseball is always won by an American franchise. Nonetheless, the event is significant in global terms, particularly for those complex solutions requiring specialist electronics as infrastructure. Whereas advances in displays have, for some time, been a Far Eastern preoccupation, a surprising percentage of the black boxes that sit at the heart of integrated solutions hail from the U.S., at least from a design perspective.

The stats

Before we get into the detail of innovations by application are, let’s clear up this question of ‘world’s largest ProAV event’. The attendance of InfoComm 2017, held in Orlando, Florida was 44,077, a healthy 14% uplift on InfoComm 2016 in Las Vegas but nowhere near ISE 2017’s 73,413. Interestingly, for a well-established event, an astonishing 40% of attendees were visiting the show for the first time.

InfoComm 2017 visitors came 117 countries, and yet just 17% of visitors were attending from outside the U.S. So where did all the new visitors come from? Some 41% of InfoComm 2017 attendees identified as “technology managers and end-users£ — more than in any previous year. “Brand-new show elements like our TIDE conference, Center Stage, The Park, and the Immersive Technology Experience attracted an unprecedented mix of qualified (end-user) attendees,” Jason McGraw, senior VP of Expositions, InfoComm International. More than 3,700 attendees took part in InfoComm training and education – up 24% from 2016.

InfoComm 2017’s 545,000 net square feet of exhibition space, making it the biggest InfoComm ever, was occupied by 950 exhibitors. So, what were they showing?

Digital signage

One feature that was immediately apparent at InfoComm was the increasingly application specific and modular nature of digital signage solutions. Industry stalwart Scala, now part of the STRATACACHE family, focused on solutions and experiences for healthcare, corporate communications, education and retail. As a specific solution, Scala showed two software modules designed to keep end-user’s staff and customers fit and healthy.

Scala Step Challenge is an interactive solution to encourage a healthy workplace, leveraging and displaying fitness tracker information in real time. Scala’s Smart Mannequin, from its retail suite, has been adapted to become an interactive solution for engaging audiences in any wellness environment. When a visitor touches points on a mannequin, which is equipped with sensor-embedded clothing, a nearby screen displays health and fitness tips that relate to that area.

Another environment to get special solutions is that of outdoor. A new series of Outdoor Digital Menu Boards is designed with anti-glare protective glass. Scala showed how customers can advance the drive-thru experience, reliably displaying content in any outdoor setting. The new menu boards were shown alongside Scala’s Informational Podium, a solution recommended for valet parking, host stands and lecterns to drive messages that entice, inform and engage visiting patrons or passers-by visiting your customers’ venues.

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Absen used InfoComm to launch the new Xv-series

Operating systems

Under the theme ‘Your Future. On Display.’ Samsung showcased a variety of next-generation signage technologies designed to improve efficiency in customer engagement and operation for transportation, retail, hospitality and corporate environments, among others.

At InfoComm 2017 Samsung announced that its full SMART Signage line-up will be powered by the Tizen 3.0 operating system, the latest version of Samsung’s cross-architecture open source software platform.

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SiliconCore debuted direct LED displays designed around its ZACH LED Driver Chip at Infocomm.

Upgraded from the previously-included Tizen 2.4 platform, the Tizen 3.0 platform is said to feature a more powerful graphics engine, that is said to produce richer and clearer video content across a SMART Signage network. This includes faster response, interactions and loading speeds that ensure uninterrupted playback and transitions free of black screens to present messages more seamlessly.
Tizen 3.0 is also said to reduce the time and resources required to deliver higher quality digital signage content for business users. The integrated Knox security platform provides a multi-layered solution that protects the SMART Signage’s systems against external attacks, while also offering security APIs to Tizen developers.

This enhanced protection makes it safe to develop and host a range of security-reliant services, including confidential payment and workplace content, within the Tizen 3.0 platform. As a result, all involved stakeholders can centralise operations for a variety of display types, including UHD displays, outdoor signage, touchscreen signage and interactive whiteboards, without needing a separate PC.

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Samsung’s InfoComm exhibit paired the new Tizen 3.0 OS with the company’s new quantum dot-powered HDR10+ QLED Signage displays.

To show off Tizen 3.0’s capabilities Samsung’s InfoComm exhibit paired the new OS with the company’s new quantum dot-powered HDR10+ QLED Signage displays. QLED Signage displays are designed to amplify High Dynamic Range (HDR). The displays achieve 100 percent colour volume for up to 1 billion different colour variations, and bring forward subtle details at varying levels of brightness when combined with optimised contrast and a distortion-free picture.

4K

Over recent trade shows, we have seen the gradual development of 4K technologies that support professional displays and applications. At InfoComm 2017, Christie announced a line-up of new products to help customers leverage the benefits of the Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE)protocol. Christie Terra solutions support video formats up to 4K at 60Hz. transporting and processing of uncompressed, zero-frame latency, artefact-free video over affordable 10G Ethernet components.

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The new Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor offers many capabilities for rental staging and large-scale experiences.

As part of a Terra solution, the Christie Terra Transmitter processes audiovisual sources and control signals and transports uncompressed, zero-frame latency, artefact-free content over 10G Ethernet networks.  The Christie Terra Receiver accepts the audiovisual data and control from the 10G Ethernet network and supplies it to displays or other AV devices. Supported formats include video, audio, RS-232, IR control, Gigabit Ethernet and USB.

LED

Perhaps it’s our imagination but the proliferation of brands entering the market for direct LED displays seems to be slowing, and, conversely, the leaders are starting to emerge. Absen, for example, used InfoComm to launch the new Xv-series. Absen’s next generation in mobile indoor /outdoor LED solutions. Launching just in time for the multitude of summer festivities, the Xv-Series provides today’s rental and staging market with a new option.

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ConX, a new cloud video conferencing service that connects with ConX display hardware, ranging from Mondopad touch-enabled displays, ConX video phones and scalable ConX video conferencing walls.

The new Xv-series offers three pixel pitch options: starting with the ultra-fine 2.6 mm (for both indoor and outdoor applications), 3.9 mm and a 5.2 mm (that provides a viewing angle of 160°/140° with a brightness level of 5,000 nits). Given its intended market, Xv-series is designed with time saving features such as easy installation and dismantle, quick-to-swap power / data core and front and rear serviceability

SiliconCore, on the other hand, debuted its ZACH LED Driver Chip at Infocomm. ZACH stands for Z(Impedance) Adjustment for Colour Homogeneity. The ZACH mechanism embedded in the driver chip can accurately detect impedance variation of each LED and apply an adjustment compensation. This is said to achieve uniform brightness and homogenous colour at even a very low brightness level.

The model demonstrated at InfoComm was the 4K, 1.2 mm LED unit. Combined with SiliconCore’s low power Common Cathode Technology (CCT) this 4K screen can achieve uniform maximum brightness of over 1,800 Nits and minimum brightness under 0.1 Nits. The effective dynamic range is over 18,000 to 1 or over 14 bits. Reproduction of colour can be achieved way beyond REC 2020 colour bit depth which becoming the industry standard.

SiliconCore displays Lavender 1.2 mm, Magnolia 1.5 and Camellia 0.95 will be the first displays to ship with the new ZACH LED drivers later this month.  Eric Li, CEO of SiliconCore explained: “This new chip is a breakthrough for LED Displays, producing a fully immersive picture quality for simulation and highly detailed image applications.”

“LED has two natural characteristics that can make LED displays far superior than any other display technology, one is high energy efficiency and the other is fast response time. Our Common Cathode technology preserves the energy efficiency advantage and today this latest invention of ZACH preserves the response time advantage. SiliconCore’s electronic design team has integrated all these technologies into an LED driver design which preserves these natural characteristics, resulting in energy efficiency, rapid response time and being able to maintain incredible colour over a long lifetime.”

Collaboration

Collaboration hardware was a real focal point at ISE earlier in the year, with launches from Microsoft, Google, Cisco, NEC, Clevertouch. C-Touch and others. Most of the interesting stuff at InfoComm related to software, and in particular apps.Christie_SpyderX80Hero Lifesize, for example,

The new Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor offers many capabilities for rental staging and large-scale experiences.

announced a beta version of its newly redesigned app. This is a cloud-based collaboration platform, that is said to deliver exceptional, high-definition audio, web and video conferencing.

The Lifesize app has been ‘rearchitected’ to focus on an intuitive, effortless experience and now includes a new user interface (UI). This has features like smart matching search and one-click calling to deliver easier, smarter and more flexible communication and collaboration.

InFocus went serval steps further, demonstrating ConX, a new cloud video conferencing service that connects with ConX display hardware, ranging from Mondopad touch-enabled displays, ConX video phones and scalable ConX video conferencing walls supporting up to 96 displays.

There are also ConX software and web apps for laptops, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. The ConX system also supports H.323 and SIP industry standards, allowing businesses, schools and government agencies to connect to anyone using standards-based third-party devices.

The new ConX Cloud is designed and built to enable powerful, reliable video conferencing and collaboration. Instead of presenting one-way data during a meeting, ConX Cloud provides dual-stream data and video allowing everyone to see both faces and information at the same time, providing the closest experience to an in-person meeting.

Alongside new ranges of displays for the digital signage market, Sharp also showed its BIG PAD PN-40TC1 iFPD deployed in a huddle space environment. The BIG PAD range will now feature a 60-inch options (the BIG PAD PN-60SC5) alongside the 70” and 80” versions already on sale, as from the in summer.

The proliferation of collaborative platforms poses its own problems for those invited to communicate using plethora of different solutions. We got very excited when we first saw Crestron’s Mercury at ISE. This is described as “the most complete, easy to use, easy to deploy and manage table top meeting and collaboration solution available”. The news at InfoComm is the Mercury console is soon to be available in commercial quantities.

Integrated collaboration

What’s exciting about the produce is that it’s all that’s needed for conference calls, wired and wireless presentation, and web conferencing. Crestron Mercury is a full open SIP phone, features HDMI, USB, and Ethernet connectivity, built-in Bluetooth connectivity and a Crestron AirMedia wireless presentation gateway. It also supports any collaboration application running on the connected laptop.

“Crestron Mercury doesn’t lock you into any one UC platform,” explained Ted Colton, VP of UC Strategy at Crestron. “It enables an organisation to leverage whatever SIP server and web conferencing platform they’re currently using, while supporting any other collaboration platform guests may bring into the meeting. Crestron Mercury simply makes meetings better.”

Crestron Mercury enables users to instantly and securely present content wirelessly on the room display from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet using the built-in AirMedia wireless presentation gateway. Crestron Mercury also features a built-in speaker and microphones. You can make calls directly from Crestron Mercury, or pair it with mobile devices via Bluetooth.

Finally, and for us most importantly, Crestron Mercury supports any web collaboration application, such as Skype for business, Cisco WebEx, GotoMeeting or Slack. Simply connect your laptop for a professional conference or collaboration experience. In addition, Crestron Mercury can be configured to run native for Skype for Business or the Zoom UX, so a laptop is not actually needed to make audio or video calls, only to share content.

Audio collaboration

Despite the growth of video collaboration, audio is holding its own. Biamp Systems announced its next generation of TesiraFORTÉ audio collaboration for small-room applications. The TesiraFORTÉ VT and TesiraFORTÉ VT4 series delivers fully integrated, networked audio for medium and small conference rooms. The new TesiraFORTÉ VT provides both VoIP and POTS options within the same chassis; TesiraFORTÉ VT4 delivers the same flexibility designed specifically for small conference rooms.

“When we introduced TesiraFORTÉ, we offered our customers the high-quality conferencing capabilities built into the Tesira platform,” said Zach Snook, audio product manager, Biamp Systems. “The new VT and VT4 models offer our customers greater flexibility to meet the range of room requirements without paying for features they don’t need..”

Room booking

Increasing numbers of collaboration spaces require greater attention to managing the available resources. Crestron introduced a new enterprise room scheduling solution at InfoComm that connects directly to standard calendar platforms.

The new TSW x60 Series room scheduling touch screens, which connect directly to the most popular enterprise calendaring platforms, and the high visibility SSW Room Availability Hallway Sign (SSW) to make it convenient to book and locate available meeting spaces from anywhere: in the hallway; in the room via Crestron Mercury, DGE-100, or DM-DGE-200-C; and from the Crestron PinPoint app.

With the SSW, office workers simply take a quick glance down the hallway. Wall mounted outside meeting rooms, the SSW illuminates bright green to indicate an available room, and red to indicate an occupied room. The SSW is visible from up to 50 feet away. Integrators simply connect the SSW to a Crestron TSW x60 Series touchscreen via the included 15′ USB cable for a programming-free solution with instant functionality.

TSW x60 Series touch screens connect directly and securely to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and G Suite without a control system or additional software, which makes installation and large-scale deployment faster and easier. The new TSW touch screens also support HTML 5, which makes it easier for integrators to create themes, add full-motion video backgrounds, and dynamically make changes to any or all touch screens on the network.

Like all Crestron Enterprise Solutions, TSW x60 Series touchscreens and the SSW integrate with Crestron Fusion scheduling and monitoring software. This provides organisations with the actionable room and device usage data and reporting they need to make informed business decisions.

Presentations

Increased complexity of presentation and content options are driving further advances in presentation management. At InfoComm, Christie introduced an all new processor in the Spyder line-up, with the Christie Spyder X80.

Delivering four times the pixel management capacity than anything available on the market, the new Spyder X80 is the solution for today’s higher image resolutions. It is described as the only video processor capable of handling 4K at a 60Hz refresh rate on a single channel.

The new Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor offers many capabilities for rental staging and large-scale experiences. Display walls are said to be easy to set up and manage. Integration is simplified with the incorporation of the latest standards and connectors, including HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and 12G HDSDI. Christie Spyder X80 solves “the large and small display canvas needs of today, with enough power to solve display needs of the foreseeable future.”

The new Christie Spyder X80 supports a modular configuration supporting up to 24 inputs and 16 outputs, with all connections capable of displaying 4K at 60/50Hz. Customers benefit from 4K support for narrow pixel pitch LED, tiled video walls, plus complex, multi-display projection environments. All source content can be displayed freely across multiple types of displays including displays configured in portrait mode with Spyder’s ability to rotate outputs individually

With industry leading scaling and format conversion, customers can mix and match multiple SD, HD, 4K, and stereoscopic video formats without compromising creativity, Users can flexibly arrange and manipulate content while maintaining original picture quality.

Automation

Elsewhere on the show floor, Barco introduced its new Overture solution. Overture is an effective enterprise-wide AV control software solution. It controls and monitors all AV and other networked devices in multiple locations via an interactive user interface. Running on commercial off-the-shelf hardware, Overture features a low total cost of ownership while helping to reduce other operating costs.

The latest version of Overture emphasizes automation. Overture “behaviours” enable the automatic creation of tasks for specific rooms. For example, an administrator can set a task to automatically switch on or off all the devices in a single room – without any programming. The system is said to seamlessly integrate with presentation tools such as Barco ClickShare, allowing a presenter to set-up the room in seconds – from switching on the main display to adjusting the lighting – with the touch of a ClickShare button.

The Scheduler capability now allows users to set certain actions at pre-defined moments in time, such as turning off all devices at night to save electricity. With the addition of the Behaviours and Scheduling functions, a facility or IT manager can easily configure the system to enable the entire enterprise to be controlled with the click of a button, or even execute tasks automatically for specific times.

“While most control systems can deliver cost savings, Overture can accomplish this with a minimal investment,” comments Jan Vanhoutte, Director Product Management for New Experiences at Barco. “The beauty of Overture is the emphasis on elegant configuration, rather than time-consuming programming. When adding a new device to Overture through a simple configuration, the device automatically becomes part of all user interfaces and behaviours that have been set up with no programming needed.”

INSERT PICS with captions:

 

ConX, a new cloud video conferencing service that connects with ConX display hardware, ranging from Mondopad touch-enabled displays, ConX video phones and scalable ConX video conferencing walls.

Terra – Christie announced a line-up of new products to help customers leverage the benefits of the Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE)protocol

Absen used InfoComm to launch the new Xv-series.

SiliconCore debuted direct LED displays designed around its ZACH LED Driver Chip at Infocomm.

The new Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor offers many capabilities for rental staging and large-scale experiences.

Crestron’s TSW x60 Series room scheduling touch screens connect directly to the most popular enterprise calendaring platforms.

The new Christie Spyder X80 multi-screen windowing processor offers many capabilities for rental staging and large-scale experiences.


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