Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Peerless hits Lord’s for six with 2024 Showcase

Installation reports from Peerless-AV’s 2024 AV Showcase, which took place at Lord’s cricket ground, London, on 14 and 15 May

The fourth edition of the AV Showcase, at Lord’s, was the busiest to date with a 20 percent rise in attendance over last year, according to organiser Peerless-AV. Described by one participant as “like a mini-ISE”, this year’s show boasted more than 50 brands on the show floor, an increase over the 2023 edition. There were plenty of product launches and demos, from the likes of LG, and a first appearance for Biamp.

Feedback from attendees was enthusiastic. A typical comment came from Will Hegan, managing director, EMEA, Diversified. “The showcase was a great hit with both our staff and customers,” he says. “The show floor was like a mini-ISE, full of key manufacturing partners and technology products. The general buzz around the day and evening event was fantastic. I heard nothing but positive feedback and conversations.”

The 2024 AV Showcase offered a number of new features, including morning education sessions with keynotes from Michel Bouman of Microsoft, Greg Jeffreys of Visual Displays, AVIXA’s Ben Barnard and Sarah Cox of Neutral Human. These events were held for the first time in the middle of the show floor in order to draw on the show’s buzzy atmosphere. Sharp NEC also hosted a well-attended Sustainability Forum for end users on day one, with a keynote from Florian Rotburg, of Invidis Consulting, followed by a panel discussion, also featuring Jenny Hicks, of Midwich and Sheila Egan, of UCL. Another new event in 2024 was a ladies Love2Learn cricket lesson, sponsored by Exertis and Philips. Over 30 female AV professionals learned batting and bowling skills from professional coaches in the indoor cricket academy.

But the main focus was, of course, the technology on display. Installation toured the show floor, sampling some of the innovative kit. LG Electronics, for example, launched its Micro LED signage solution, known as the LG MAGNIT All-in-One. Built for corporate meeting rooms, the 136-inch model features LG’s Micro LED technology and a 1.56mm pixel pitch. MAGNIT All-in-One is compatible with the LG One: Quick Share wireless screen sharing solution, as well as with the webOS platform.

Robin Fulford, senior manager, general sales, LG, said: “The micro LED gives us better colour uniformity and brightness. So, if you used an Excel spreadsheet, the whites would be a lot better than with conventional LED. It also boasts an IK rating because of the resin over the LED. With conventional LED, you can’t touch the pixels as you can damage them. But the resin makes them more robust. With a 1.5mm gap between pixels, the sweet spot for this screen would be corporate banks, or pharmaceutical companies, as a replacement for video walls.”

Fulford says the LG MAGNIT boasts a failover feature, which enables the display to detect the available input signals and automatically change the source when the current signal is disconnected. “You set your primary and secondary sources,” he says. “So if you put an image as a JPEG onto the web aware system, and set that as your secondary source, and set HDMI as your primary source, when HDMI is disconnected, it reverts to the JPEG. It could display information about how to use the product, or an environmental message, rather than just having a blank image. And then, as soon as somebody reconnects the HDMI, it automatically switches back. That way, you’ve got a constant image on the screen.”

Among the more eye-catching innovations on show were ePaper screens, such as the Sharp ePaper 13-inch and 25-inch Class diagonal displays. As a more sustainable digital alternative to paper posters, they are designed for applications requiring static content with regular updates, such as POS promotions, menu boards, allergen and nutritional information in retail and hospitality environments, timetables, or check-in and gate information. They also feature an integrated System on a Chip (SoC).

Jack Wilders, senior solutions architect, Sharp NEC UK, explained: “If I pull the plug on it now, and even with the plug connected, it’s consuming zero watts of energy. There are a number of micro cups, which are cyan, magenta, yellow, and reflective white, and sit below the surface. When it’s electromagnetically charged, they come up above the surface and create an image. It’s similar to an Etch a Sketch, where you shake it and all the magnets go back below the surface. When you draw the image, they come back to the surface. Once disconnected, the display could run for about two years before starting to fade.”

He added: “There are a number of ways to put an image on it. We can do it directly using a USB stick, or a PC with a direct connection, or an app via Bluetooth. A number of CMS providers can also talk to it over Wi-Fi. A CMS wakes the Wi-Fi chip up, and a small system on the chip drops content onto the screen. And then it can schedule it so it can run on a slideshow.”

Sennheiser, more known for audio of course, has moved into the AV bar market with all-in-one devices for small and mid-sized meeting rooms and collaboration spaces. On display were the TeamConnect Bar S, which features four microphones and two speakers, and TC Bar M, which has six microphones and four speakers. Sennheiser partnered with Image Engineering, an independent test laboratory, to ensure the video quality could match its speciality, the audio. The 4K Ultra HD camera is enhanced by AI features like “Autoframing” and “Person Tiling”, enabling remote participants to see everyone in the room clearly. 

The built-in DSP, and the option to adjust audio settings via Sennheiser Control Cockpit, provides users with the opportunity to optimise room acoustics. The TC bars also come with an automatic conference and music mode switch to provide audio to match the content. “Bars are a crowded market, but we’ve entered it with confidence. We’re using the beamforming technology we developed for other products, which enables immediate transition between presenters. And we think we have improved the audio experience, which some competitors are not as strong on,” comments Inesh Patel, business development manager for business communication, Sennheiser. “It’s also the first video bar to have Dante integration. The Dante channel allows mixed audio output, which can be used for different things, such as assisted listening, lecture capture, and various recording solutions.”

Shure showcased its new Microflex Advance MXA901 Conferencing Ceiling Array Microphone, following the launch of the MXS902 last year. The MXA901 is 13.5in diameter and scalable from small to large meeting spaces, with one or multiple arrays. It is designed with Single Zone Automatic Coverage Technology, which covers a 20ft x 20ft space, with minimal configuration needed. The MXA901 is certified for use with collaboration platforms, including Microsoft Teams and Zoom. 

Shure teamed up with Ashton Bentley, which designs presentation and video conferencing systems for meeting rooms, to present a joint display at Lord’s. “We created a diorama for the Peerless event, with a lovely outlook on London, as we wanted people to experience the products in situ,” explains Craig Colin, sales manager, UK, Shure. “Ashton Bentley is using the Shure microphones to present complete meeting room solutions.”

NOWSignage, a cloud-based digital signage platform, was at the Peerless event to discuss their advances with artificial intelligence. Amy Marie Williams, head of customer success, says the company is the first CMS partner to have fully integrated an AI application, in this case ChatGPT. The AI pulls product information instantly onto the brand’s product database and makes product recommendations based on a customer’s interaction with digital signage. 

 “The ChatGPT’s language processing ability allows users to engage in a conversational way. One example of how it could help is by making it easier to ask about any dietary restrictions associated with specific products, or about allergens,” says Williams. “It means customers can make informed decisions and it shows how AI can integrate with retail and hospitality to create better customer service. We’ll be announcing a number of AI innovations over the next few months.”

Expert panellists debate how CSR is changing procurement 

On the first day of the event, Sharp/NEC organised a Sustainability Forum, to discuss the question: ”To what extent is CSR transforming the procurement process in real-world scenarios?” Sharp/NEC invited three expert panellists, who responded to questions about how they go about making sustainable purchasing decisions. The event was well-attended and a lively debate ensued, involving audience participation at every stage.

The three panellists were Florian Rotberg, managing director of Invidis Consulting, one of Europe’s leading publishers for digital signage; Sheila Egan, AV design principal for teaching and learning spaces at UCL, and Jenny Hicks, group head of market intelligence for Midwich. At the beginning, Rotberg, a thought leader on green signage, presented the keynote speech on screen from Germany. He spoke about how to take purchasing decisions that achieve the lowest possible environmental impact, addressing both technological advances and sustainability standards.

Following Rotberg’s wide-ranging presentation, Installation content writer and forum host David Smith posed a series of questions to the three panellists: The key themes explored included: The panellists’ roles and the solutions they deploy; how sustainability steers their purchasing decisions; how they understand the meaning of data when manufacturers often measure things differently; and what they believe is the true value of sustainability standards. 

Answers focused on explaining personal experience, rather than defining precisely how to go about sustainability. A picture emerged of the practical complexity of taking decisions in the real world, with many constructive solutions being proposed. Egan stressed that purchasing decisions should be taken holistically to avoid shortsightedness; Hicks was enthusiastic about the value of using recycled products and also pointed out that some sustainability standards may sometimes have the perverse effect of penalising companies for being more “sustainable”.

For more on the Sharp/NEC forum and the company’s sustainability ethos, please click here.