Following several years of pandemic-related disruption, last year’s InfoComm – the first to take place physically in its normal time-frame since 2019 – indicated that the industry’s allegiance to the AV industry’s biggest trade show in North America remains unbroken. But with a dazzling display of new innovations and a sharp rise in attendees, InfoComm 2023 – which took place at the Orlando County Convention Center from 10 to 16 June – spoke of a broader reality: the remarkable resilience of the entire AV industry.
A glimpse of this can be garnered from the headline statistics, which reveal that the show welcomed 29,325 verified attendees from 115 countries – up from 19,681 verified attendees from 110+ countries in 2022, when the show took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There were also positive indications of the show’s longer-term future, with 37% of visitors attending for the first time and more than 2,000 unique individuals taking part in continuing education sessions of one form or another.
But ultimately, it is the quality of the products and presentations on the showfloor and in the seminar room that are the benchmark for any trade show – and of the wider industry. And with a wide-ranging education programme and striking new innovations from Crestron, LG and Ross Video, among numerous others, the event more than delivered on both fronts.
The past three years have brought remarkable changes to the way we work, especially with regard to the technologies used communicate and collaborate in the workplace and remotely. So it was no surprise to discover that innovations in this space were well-represented at InfoComm 2023.
Recognising the need for effective control in multiple environments, Crestron announced the introduction of the TST-1080 wireless touch screen for customisable control over media presentation and teleconferencing systems, lighting and shades, as well as HVAC, home theatre and other technologies. Providing a universal status bar populated with virtual buttons for quick access to common touch functions, the TST-1080 also offers advanced features such as voice commands for controlling touch screen functions, full-motion streaming video for cameras and other sources, and Rava SIP intercom.
The TST-1080 is designed to support one of Crestron’s other big InfoComm launches: the Crestron Construct software, which is an HTML5-based UI editing tool for Crestron Control devices. The first Crestron tool for HTML5-based UI design, the software features a WYSIWYG drag & drop visual editor that enables organisations to customise their Crestron Control device interfaces, allowing them to meet their “functional and aesthetic needs” without needing in-depth coding skills.
Lauren Simmen, director product marketing for Crestron, commented: “In modern enterprise meeting rooms where interaction with technology is fundamental to the experience, having an intuitive and attractive control device UI is essential. With its simple drag and drop visual editor, Crestron Construct makes designing and deploying Crestron Control device interfaces effortless, saving time and leading to more fruitful meeting room experiences.”
Collaboration was also a key theme for LG Business Solutions USA, which showcased a host of new products combining ease of installation with flexible usage. These included a trio of solutions devised to suit the needs of boardrooms, lobbies and conferencing and collaboration spaces: the 55in One:Quick Works interactive display, 163in All-in-One DVLED display, and new 171in 21:9 DVLED display. Also new is the LG MAGNIT 8K Micro LED Display (model LSAB007), described as a “show stopping display” for any corporate office or HQ.
David Bacher, head of marketing at LG Business Solutions USA, commented: “Corporate environments require a variety of display types, and LG has been hard at work developing next-gen solutions that simplify operations and help boost productivity. From digital signage to interactive collaboration boards and All-in-One DVLED displays for conferencing, we’re pushing the boundaries so commercial integrators can deliver corporate clients upgraded capabilities and flexibility.”
Life-size examples of immersive AV experiences, such as an interactive hybrid classroom and meeting room, were among the eye-catching elements of the Kramer booth. In line with a strategy which favours “not only reacting to market trends and customer needs, but also leading them,” Kramer showcased a newly enhanced version of the VIA platform – Kramer’s wireless collaboration and conferencing platform – and a new quick-launch for Education solution. The company also presented a fresh series of interoperable audio-visual signal management products and the new KDS-100, which is an open-standard 4K60 AVoIP streaming solution.
The show also found Kramer highlighting partnerships with three AV leaders – namely Samsung, Yealink and Sennheiser, with whom it has shaped a premium hybrid teleconferencing solution that is based on Sennheiser’s Team Connect Ceiling 2 microphone and Kramer’s AFM-DSP20-AEC audio matrix switcher.
Gilad Yron, CEO of Kramer, said: “We’re more focused than ever on crafting solutions that bring unique value to systems integrators, AV-IT managers and end-users, through our all-round, open-ecosystem, customer-focused approach. Our position as the end-to-end technology partner for audio-visual experiences means we’re ideally placed to support customers through their own technological evolutions.”
New education solutions complemented the learning programme at InfoComm, too, with numerous sessions on topics ranging from digital signage for higher education to the use of AV-over-IP to support hybrid classrooms. There were also expert-led tours of learning solutions on the trade show floor, as well as excursions to view innovative solutions at the nearby University of Central Florida. Diversity & Inclusion, Enterprise IT, and Content Production & Streaming were among the other key topics covered in the education and events programme (a full rundown of which can be found here).
Few would contest the prominence of AI at the moment in the wider public debate about technology, so it was to be expected that the term would also be in evidence on the InfoComm show floor. To pick one major example, Jabra announced a series of new “AI-powered features” for its PanaCast50 video bar system and PanaCast50 Room system, designed to optimise the use of its hybrid video conferencing technologies in an era when so many meetings are either fully virtual or hybrid.
The result of a collaboration with Microsoft, the updates mean that the PanaCast 50 is one of the first intelligent Teams Rooms on Windows video bars to enable Microsoft IntelliFrame with multiple video streams. Each in-room participant has a dedicated camera view, providing a more inclusive remote experience as well as an optimised ‘front row’ experience in room-to-room gatherings. Additionally, with Teams’ voice recognition capabilities, the PanaCast 50 allows in-room participants to maintain their identity in the meeting transcript, aiding AI-based productivity tools.
Aurangzeb Khan, senior VP of Intelligent Vision Systems at Jabra, commented: “At Jabra, we are always looking for ways to harness the power of cutting-edge AI technologies to revolutionise hybrid and remote meetings. This is why we are thrilled to introduce these new PanaCast 50 capabilities for collaboration with Microsoft Teams. These features are set to give professionals immediate productivity benefits, helping them better navigate the hybrid working era seamlessly, online and offline.”
The convergence of broadcast and AV technologies is another a key theme in the industry, and will soon be the subject of a dedicated focus in Installation‘s September edition. One sign of this is that more companies synonymous with broadcast technology are now developing a greater presence in AV – Ross Video among them.
The company’s launches at InfoComm 2023 included Quorum, a meeting control solution designed to provide governments, legislators and corporations with broadcast-quality production, automated multi-camera tracking, professional-looking graphics and intuitive touch controls. Ross Video also showcased Connexus – its first KVM matrix solution and geared towards command & control infrastructures – as well as the D3 LED display solutions, suited to applications such as corporate production, extended reality and digital signage.
Jared Schatz, senior VP vertical markets and solutions, said: “Our participation in InfoComm 2023 underlines our growing focus on the AV industry. Our aim is to blur the lines from broadcast to AV, making the technology more accessible for a variety of industries. We are empowering our clients to navigate complex broadcast solutions more efficiently.”
Also innovating for control space applications is Datapath, which showcased the Aetria Workstation solution for control room operators that allows them to organise their desktop and optimise the monitoring and control of all required solutions. In addition, Datapath displayed its next generation VSN V3 video processor, which includes support for a 12th generation (Alder Lake) Intel Core i9 processor, along with a creative digital signage display solution powered by Datapath Fx4 controllers.
There were also some notable launches from manufacturers most closely associated with audio systems. FletcherMachine is an immersive audio rendering engine from Adamson Systems Engineering, and at InfoComm it was shown with Remote software driving an immersive audio setup using 10 Adamson IS5c ultra-compact 2-way integration-ready coaxial loudspeakers. The company also showcased an interactive kiosk running design & control software for the CS-Series of intelligent loudspeakers.
d&b audiotechnik, too, brought a multi-faceted focus to InfoComm, including a demo room showcase for its Soundscape sound designer toolkit. With the requirement for engaging live experiences increasing, d&b Soundscape enables further connection between the stage and listeners, simplifying the workflow to deliver a more transformative experience. At the core of the system is the Dante-enabled DS-100 Signal Engine, En-Scene and En-Space software modules, all in conjunction with planning and control software ArrayCalc and R1 Remote. New for InfoComm 2023 was HeadroomCalc, the latest update to the ArrayCalc simulation software, designed to provide more comprehensive predictability of system performance.
Many will already be looking forward to next year’s InfoComm, which will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from June 8-14, 2024.