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InfoComm 2018 preview: taking AV to new heights

Last year’s InfoComm saw new events that refreshed the show and brought in voices from industries adjacent to professional AV. This year’s event looks to continue that trend.

As ever, InfoComm this year looks set to offer a packed showfloor over its three exhibition days. But it’s not just about seeing products on stands – the show is a valuable resource for those who are looking to boost their professional knowledge. We’ve counted over 200 bookable education events on the show website, including all-day conferences, manufacturers’ presentations, AVIXA-accredited training sessions, AV technology tours, networking events, discussion panels, and even orientation tours for first-time visitors. There are even a dozen three-day courses running Saturday to Monday, so that visitors can get a serious boost to their knowledge without missing out on any exhibition time.

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Here are some of the main attractions of the show – starting with the conference programme.


Following its successful launch in Orlando last year and a second edition at ISE in February, the TIDE conference returns to InfoComm on Tuesday 5 June. TIDE (Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience) offers InfoComm attendees a wider perspective of the world of AV, as a broad range of presenters – designers, architects, artists, integrators and more – share their views on how technology is created, implemented and used.

The theme of this edition of TIDE is Human-Centred Design, which involves creating AV technology solutions that resonate with the user.

“We want attendees to take a step back from their day-to-day way of thinking about technology,” says Dan Goldstein, senior vice president of content and communications, AVIXA. Listening to innovators on stage and seated next to them will open their minds to new possibilities. Starting off the week with the TIDE conference will have people looking at the technology spanning the InfoComm trade show floor in a whole new light.”

Dr Beau Lotto, a globally renowned neuroscientist and founder and CEO of Lab of Misfits Studio, will open the conference. Described as the world’s first neuro-design studio, Misfits Studio creates real-world ‘experiential experiments’ that place the public at the centre of the process of discovery.

The afternoon keynote presentation will be given by Rana June, a pioneering creative technologist. Her work leverages biometric data to examine the spectrum of human emotion and transforms them into experiential artworks. She is the founder of biometrics company Lightwave, which has been recognised internationally for measuring the ‘energy’ of large-scale events, including Wimbledon and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships.

TIDE Portals

Shared_Studios will be bringing one of its Portals to the TIDE Conference. Taking the form of gold shipping containers or inflatable rooms, Portals are equipped with immersive AV technology that allows visitors to connect with people in other Portals around the world in a live collaboration experience. Biamp’s Devio is the chosen audio solution for the more than 35 permanent Portals in operation around the world.

TIDE attendees will be able to take part in a Portal experience at the event, and speak to people in Portals in different global locales during the breakout sessions. Connections will range from a public park in Mexico City to a community centre in Herat, Afghanistan.

Center Stage

Another InfoComm attraction returning for a second year is Center Stage.

Situated in a central position on the showfloor, Center Stage is a series of over two dozen discussion sessions featuring the AV industry’s most creative makers, users and creators. The subjects covered are at the forefront of the industry, including AR, VR, wearable technology, voice assistants, capture technology, smart buildings, immersive audio and compelling online video.

“We’re excited to have Center Stage return after a successful debut at InfoComm 2017,” says Jason McGraw, senior vice president of expositions, AVIXA. “It’s a great opportunity to learn from these bright creatives who employ technology to push the human potential to learn, connect, and entertain.”

Center Stage sessions are free to attend and do not need to be booked – just turn up and watch.

Integrated Life

New for 2018 at InfoComm is Integrated Life, a brand that explores the convergence between commercial and residential AV technologies. It comprises a one-day conference, and a dedicated showfloor area.

Taking place ahead of the show on Tuesday 5 June, the Integrated Life conference will discuss a variety of topics at the confluence of commercial and residential technology, such as user interface innovations, security and privacy, managed services, artificial intelligence, and consumer expectations and habits. It will also examine the role that integrators can play in this new landscape.

The Integrated Life pavilion on the showfloor features more than two dozen exhibitors – including Microsoft and Google Cloud – with technology portfolios that cover Internet of Things, intelligent building systems, people-centred workspaces and many other areas.

C2 International

One of the more unusual attractions on the showfloor will come from C2 International, a group of creative thought leaders who create events based around immersion and collaboration.

“Over the past six years, the C2 team has been researching and testing ways to take people outside of their usual frames of reference in the belief that experimentation leads to a culture of innovation,” says Martin Enault, president, APAC at C2i. “We’ve been designing and fine-tuning experiences that encourage participants to think differently about a problem, shifting their mindset in a way that will help them find new solutions to their business challenges. Core elements of that are atypical brainstorming experiences that we call labs.”

One of these out-of-the-comfort-zone experiences is called Sky, which is a moderated, collaborative experience – during which the participants are suspended above floor level.

Trends: AV over IP

AV over IP looks set to be a key trend once again in Las Vegas. At what is only its second InfoComm show following its foundation in early 2017, the SDVoE Alliance will be demonstrating AV network management and control software designed to run on the SDVoE platform. Demos will include VuWall TRx, ZeeVee MaestroZ and iMAGsystems Lightning applications, all built on the SDVoE API. The Alliance will also be running ‘SDVoE 20/20’ – more than 20 20-minute education sessions about different aspects of SDVoE.

While SDVoE is positioning itself as ‘the platform for networked AV’, it’s not the only game in town for AV over IP. Expect to see many manufacturers offering their solutions for 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet networks. It will be interesting to see if there is any less confusion around terms such as ‘visually lossless’ and ‘zero latency’ that there was at last year’s InfoComm.

Also, details are sketchy at the moment, but we’ve received word of a new initiative from the Avnu Alliance to be announced at the show. Manufacturers including L-Acoustics, d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound, Biamp and Avid have been working together under the Alliance umbrella for more than 18 months, and will be presenting and demonstrating “a new network solution that will reshape the AV networking industry and future of high-performance professional media”. Could this be another chapter in the AVB story?

And, of course, there will be another edition of the Dante-based AV Networking World taking place the day before the exhibition opens.

Here are some of the other exhibitors with AV-over-IP offerings:

• Matrox will be giving an educational presentation

entitled ‘Networked AV, remote monitoring, and security’, which will focus on understanding the most common streaming protocols, identifying key performance metrics and monitoring protocols for IT network management, and protecting against security vulnerabilities created by networked AV equipment.

• Clear-Com will show E-IPA, a high-density audio-over-IP connection card for the Eclipse HX digital matrix intercom family

• Bogen Communications will show the C4000, its first IP-based, software-centric communications system optimised for commercial paging and audio distribution applications

Trends: Collaboration and conferencing

As you can see from the list of 10 key product launches, there is a lot of activity from vendors in the collaboration and conferencing space – whether it’s the core equipment for working on shared information, or audio systems that improve the quality of the conferencing experience.

Here are some of the companies showing collaboration and conferencing solutions:

• QSC will have a 20-minute QSC Conference Room Experience demonstration on its stand

• Oblong will demonstrate integration with Cisco Webex Teams, bringing virtual workspace applications into physical workspaces

• Yamaha Unified Communications – which combines expertise from Yamaha and its subsidiary Revolabs – will take part in a number of education sessions encompassing AI, UC, PCs as codecs, and huddle room technology – as well as showing its latest conferencing products

• MXL is debuting a new conference microphone

• Marshall Electronics is showing its new high-definition USB camera

Lavelle’s advice

We’ll give the final word to Chris Lavelle, recently promoted by AVIXA to the role of senior director of development Europe (see Last Word, page 54).

He says: “For somebody that has been to the show before, then there’ll be something new and different for them. And for somebody who has never been to the show before it will it will wow them, because there is just so much to do… There’s something for everybody. If someone is going, they should definitely look at the schedule and book what they want to first – and use the time that they’re out there well.”