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ISE 2013: Ten years of magic

The Keynote Address from a cyber-illusionist set the tone for an ISE that was all about using technology in new and unexpected ways.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That famous saying from science fiction author and futurologist Arthur C Clarke was the jumping-off point for the ISE 2013 Keynote Address by cyber-illusionist Marco Tempest, who enhances traditional magic through the use of augmented reality, as well as using AV technology to create a magic of its own.

If magic is about making the unexpected happen – or doing things in a way that hasn’t been done before – then there was plenty of that in evidence on the showfloor at the 10th edition of ISE. For many exhibitors the focus was more on new and different solutions for familiar situations.

Networking and streaming
On the AVnu Alliance stand, there were demonstrations of different manufacturers’ equipment working together over Ethernet using AVB standards. LabX Technologies showcased its Xavity platform by streaming SD video in two directions over 1Gb Ethernet network: it passed from a player through a Xavity-enabled Axon Technologies Synapse interface, through an AVB bridge, back to another Synapse and onto a display. At the same time, another video source passed over the network in the opposite direction. The two video sources were seen to be in perfect synchronisation.

The HDBaseT Alliance had a stand at ISE, where it showed a concept single-wire TV with just a single input port for all connections, including power. “It will lower the cost, ease the installation, give a much better look and feel, and ease cable clutter. That’s what installers want to have, and what consumers like also,” said Micha Risling, marketing chair of the HDBaseT Alliance and VP marketing and business development at Valens.

HDBaseT is now “a mature technology and we are excited because we’re starting to see it embedded in consumer products, so you don’t need extenders that convert from HDMI to HDBaseT anymore,” he said.

In addition, many of the Alliance’s more than 50 members, including Crestron, Epson, projectiondesign, Panasonic, Wyrestorm, HD Connectivity, Gefen and Kramer were showing HDBaseT-compatible equipment on their own stands.

Peter Maag, chief marketing officer of Haivision, remarked on the relative lack of companies offering streaming solutions at ISE compared with the InfoComm show. “American audiences are more attuned to seeing streaming at InfoComm, while European ones see it at IBC,” he said, adding that there needs to be more of a crossover between the broadcast and systems integration audiences. “It’s happening, but not as fast as in the US – especially within the signage space. Signage is very fragmented here compared with at InfoComm.”

Stuart Ashton, director EMEA at Blackmagic Design, reported that many attendees had visited the company’s stand looking to update their infrastructure – “everything from cabling to the way they deliver and distribute content”. He contrasted the AV and live events space with the broadcast market (where the company has its roots), where adopting new standards such as 4K requires infrastructure upgrades across the board. “Those constraints don’t apply here,” he said. “In this market you become your own broadcaster and make your own rules.”

Described as the “most important product development we have brought to the control room sector in the last five years”, Christie launched its new Phoenix system. Phoenix uses hardware and software to deliver flexible distribution and sharing of digital assets over existing IT infrastructures.

The system employs the open standard H.264 video compression technology, allowing it to be integrated into existing infrastructures. A scalable system, Phoenix is capable of handling very large installations such as those required by transportation hubs, right down to single-node deployments.

Peerless-AV used ISE to announce the formation of the Peerless-AV Technology Division (see News, page 5). New areas of product development include wireless connectivity, wireless broadcast, digital audio and touch products.

Products on display from the new division included the HD Flow Pro Wireless Multimedia Kit, a device allowing Full HD 1080p video and passive 3D signals to be streamed up to 40m to HDTVs, projectors or other displays without cabling; and the PeerAir Wireless HD Multimedia System, an HDMI interface-based plug-and-play wireless content streaming system for home entertainment, corporate, education and training applications.

With smart buildings one of the key themes of the show, Crestron had a fully functional integrated building environment on its stand as it introduced its ‘Integrated by Design’ solutions to the European market. Among the featured products were 3-Series Control Systems with BACnet/IP support, which integrate and manage the disparate technologies throughout a facility to manage productivity and efficiency.

Also on show was the new Core 3 UI powered family of tablet-sized, intercom-equipped touchscreens. Available in 5in, 7in and 10in models, the TSW collection provides the same control as larger touchscreens in a design aimed to complement commercial or residential installations.

The analogue sunset is addressed by Crestron DigitalMedia, which simplifies the upgrade of analogue AV systems to digital: it gets them on to the network, with a built-in managed Ethernet switch, Private Network Mode operation and SNMP data support for IT dashboard monitoring.

‘Coax is sexy’ was the message at ISE debutant ZeeVee – an American company with a range of products for sending HD video over existing coaxial infrastructures. Its latest HDBridge 2000 series encoders/modulators can carry up to four HD channels (1080p/i or 720p) in a single RU chassis. They can be easily combined to distribute hundreds of channels to an unlimited number of HDTVs, drastically lowering the cost of deployment and simplifying installations. “Where we shine is a facility with multiple TVs, taking in satellite and cable feeds, where they don’t want set-top boxes in public view,” said industry veteran Bob Michaels, ZeeVee’s senior vice president of worldwide sales.

ISE saw the world premiere of a new generation of high-end AV processors from Analog Way. These are based on the company’s new LiveCore platform, which is the outcome of “the biggest R&D project ever undertaken by the company so far”, according to CEO Adrien Corso. The first two products of the range are the NeXtage 16 and theSmartMatriX Ultra.

NeXtage 16 is a seamless switcher for demanding live events. Equipped with 16 scalers, eight inputs and two outputs, NeXtage 16 offers 28 input plugs: four HDMI, six DVI-D, two DisplayPort, eight 3G-SDI and eight Universal Analogue. Four independent true seamless layers per output are included, as well as an independent native background layer for soft edge blending.

SmartMatriX Ultra is a high-end 12 x 4 scaled native matrix with a rugged design for durability. It offers versatile AV connections for any set-up through 42 input plugs: six HDMI, nine DVI-D, three DisplayPort, 12 3G-SDI and 12 Universal Analogue.

One control option for both NeXtage 16 and SmartMatriX Ultra is Analog Way’s new Web-based Remote Control Software (Web RCS) for the LiveCore platform-based systems. Being web-based, the Web RCS can be run just about anywhere on any internet-connected PC, Mac or tablet.

As ever, there was a strong showing from projector manufacturers at ISE this year. BenQ showed a number of lampless, wireless and interactive projectors. The LW61ST+ short-throw and LW31 projectors use the company’s BlueCore light engine, which uses a laser light source rather than a traditional mercury lamp. The company cites an average of 20,000 hours of reliable brightness, and power consumption that is reduced by up to 90%.

The company’s Q Presenter iOS app was on show, connecting wirelessly with the MX661 XGA multimedia projector and the GP10 ultra-lite LED model. With Q Presenter, GP10 users can project photos and documents saved in their iPhones or iPads via WiFi. MX661 users can display files, browse the web and use a live cam function, as well as sketching on documents.

Mitsubishi Electric showed its new PlayOut Composer content management platform in a nine-projector ultra-short throw edge-blended display on its stand. PlayOut Composer enables virtually any media source, including content streamed via IP, to be combined and deployed in real time in a single workspace, and then scheduled and managed effortlessly to create versatile signage systems.

Among the additions to the company’s projector range was Mitsubishi’s first solid-state illuminated projector, the NW31U-EST. This WXGA projector, aimed at the premium mobile user, has a solid-state laser and LED light source delivering 2,500 lumens. Projected lifespan is 20,000 hours in normal mode – roughly five times that of a comparable mercury lamp.

projectiondesign unveiled the F35 panorama, which it describes as the world’s first ‘panoramic’ DLP projector. It is designed for advanced meeting rooms and collaborative spaces in which users are sharing a variety of graphical image content both locally and remotely.

A wide image aspect ratio of 21:9 (2.37:1) means that, in an office environment with an average ceiling height, it is possible for images as wide as 4m to be created without the need for edge-blending the output of two separate projectors. In addition, the F35 panorama’s flexible input configuration means that it can project simultaneous side-by-side images from two separate high-resolution sources, fill an entire screen from a single source, or set up a videoconference call next to a computer presentation.

Sony used ISE to launch the world’s first 3LCD laser, 4,000 lumens WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) projector. With newly developed BrightEra 3LCD technology, the projector has up to 20,000 hours of maintenance-free life depending on its environment and set-up conditions. It incorporates lasers rather than LEDs to achieve optimum brightness.
Among the newly updated line of large-venue, education and multimedia projectors on show from Vivitek was the new D7180HD, which combines ultra short-throw technology with a Full HD picture.

The projector requires zero projection distance, making it suitable for use in smaller boardrooms, where projection distance might otherwise be an issue. With a brightness of 3,400 lumens, it can show presentations, pictures and spreadsheets up to a size of 220-250cm.

The projector features a six-segment colour wheel as well as DLP BrilliantColor technology. It can be integrated into corporate networks, with the IT administration benefiting from the machine’s system administration capability via RJ45. A broad range of connectivity ports include HDMI, VGA-In/-Out, DVI-D, and USB, while the projector’s top-loading capabilities facilitate straightforward lamp replacement.

Turn to page 14 of our April’s digital edition for our ISE interview with worldwide general manager Otto Kong.

Dataton launched Watchpax, its first dedicated media server with built-in Watchout multi-display software. It’s designed to match the demands of distributed systems and multi-room installs, without the hassle of running long video cables. A Watchpax media server is required for each display source and delivers full audio and video capability.

Watchpax measures 127 x 148 x 22mm and weighs only 470g. It consumes very little power and runs over any standard network, enabling Watchout to be used and managed from anywhere in the world. Users can orchestrate stills, 3D objects, interactive elements, animations, graphics, video and sound across multiple displays, soft-edge or scattered.

Samsung showed an array of signage-related products, including a new 95in LED display, and the NL22B transparent display. The company also unveiled its Smart Signage Platform, which includes an embedded high-performance media player, and a software developers’ kit that enables partners
to develop customised signage applications.

Also celebrating its 10th year in business, displayLED showcased its HRi 1.9mm display – one of the world’s highest resolution commercially available screens. Also on display was the second generation of the digiFLEX tile, including the IP67 rated ‘IT’ Tile with full remote diagnostics for fixed installations.

NuVo launched its Wireless Audio System at ISE. This offers the same high fidelity as the company’s existing systems, but with added flexibility and ease of set-up.

There are two interchangeable wireless zone amplifier options, the P100 (40W) and the P200 (120W) players, and the devices are equipped to stream content from network stored audio, analogue sources, and internet radio. The P200 also employs the aptX audio codec to provide ‘wired’ quality Bluetooth stereo audio. The system can wirelessly stream to up to 16 speakers at 600kbps in each zone and can be controlled from a free iOS or Android app.

“Now it’s launched, we’re looking at additional streaming services for Europe and additional integration with third-party controls,” said marketing manager Desirée Webster. “There is already a module for Control4 and we are working with other partners.”

Also new is the NuVo P3100, which operates three 40W zones from a 1RU wired unit and integrates with the wireless players, and a Gateway wireless device.

A number of well-known US residential audio names that are part of Nortek’s Technology Solutions group – including Niles Audio, SpeakerCraft, Sunfire, Aton and Proficient – were exhibiting together under the Core Brands umbrella for the first time at an ISE show. Chris Bundy, director of marketing communications, said that this is a reflection of the increased co-operation between the brands behind the scenes. Distributors, he said, are “no longer siloed by brand or by region”, and are more likely to call on a distributor in the neighbouring country to help them with a large order. Additionally, R&D staff are increasingly helping with the development of products for other brands in the group. One example is Niles Audio’s recent web-configurable amplifier. “A lot of people here have worked at Harman in the past,” said Bundy. “They’ve learned a lot of the lessons about the merging of technologies.”

Genelec used ISE to introduce the G and F Series of home audio products.The new additions signal Genelec’s entry into the home audio market and feature the company’s new Power Management Technology to ensure they meet the upcoming ErP Energy Related Products Directive.

The four models in the G Series combine a compact aluminium enclosure with easy connectivity to sources such as a home cinema amplifier, PC, portable music player or multi-room system. The F Series active subwoofers extend the bass response of the G Series loudspeakers with accurate, solid and dynamic bass.

Adamson launched the Point Concentric Series of passive coaxial loudspeakers at ISE. Stated as being for use when both power and finesse are needed, the multipurpose cabinets are available in double 5in (PC5), single 6in (PC6), single 8in (PC8), single 10in (PC10) and a single 12in (PC12) versions.

Designed for use as a standalone cabinet, under balcony, or stair fill, the PC5 and PC6 provide a 70º conical pattern and are designed to produce linear, high-resolution audio throughout their bandwidth. Both models are said to produce warm mid-bass, with plenty of punch for their weight class.

When more power is required, designers can turn to the PC8, PC10 and PC12, which members of the family are shipped with standard M10 and Omnimount points, and also offer optional vertical yokes for versatility.
Clear-Com was demonstrating recently launched intercom products. These included the beltpack-based HelixNet Partyline – which, according to company president Bob Boster, had its first major outing in a number of venues during the London 2012 Olympics – the BroaMan interface option and upgrades to the Tempest 2400 wireless intercom.

Boster felt that European business is harder for the company to identify and attract than American – partly because the rental and staging community is more prevalent at InfoComm than at ISE, and partly because in Europe “it’s more of an installed base business”.

One company making its ISE debut was Ateïs sister company Xavtel, highlighting its three main product areas: digital conference systems, multi-room networking and Full HD video with audio over IP.

“Although Xavtel’s products are based on similar technology to what has made Ateïs so successful, they are aimed at completely different professional sectors, which is why we have created a new brand and division,” said Xavtel managing director Anders Strom.

Xavtel’s main ISE focus was the Senator conferencing range of products. See New Products, page 44, for more.
Apart Audio was showing its AudioControl12.8 matrix, which incorporates audio processing, control processing and extensive paging functionality. The unit has 12 inputs and eight outputs, not including two SP-DIF inputs.
Up to 120 addressable/programmable paging microphones/extenders can be connected, each with their own functionality and individual presets, and up to eight priority levels. An integrated real-time task scheduler makes the matrix suitable for a variety of projects.

Available separately, the DIMIC 1 and DIMIC 12 digital paging stations can be configured via the host’s graphical installer interface. All buttons can be programmed to do a variety of tasks, including: paging a zone, selecting a source, controlling the volume, recalling a preset, triggering a macro, or controlling the functions of other devices such as a CD player.

Televic gave Installation a closed-room preview of a new conferencing product that the company is aiming to release at InfoComm in June. We’ve been sworn to secrecy not to reveal any details, but we can tell you that we liked what we saw…

Audac was showing its new ATEO loudspeaker series, an installation speaker for residential applications as well as for small venues such as shops and restaurants, available in black or white.

Mounting and connection of the loudspeaker is achieved by attaching the included metal wall-plate to the desired location. The wires are then connected to the desired terminal of the custom connection block (100V or 8-ohm). The speaker then clicks into place; its angle of incline can be adjusted, and it can be rotated into the horizontal plane.

Mipro returned to ISE for the first time in three years, displaying its range of wireless PA systems and digital tour guide systems. With its rechargeable lithium battery, the MA-100 weighs only 1.8kg but delivers 50W output from its built-in Class D amplifier. It can accommodate up to two built-in wireless diversity receivers with 16 preset auto-scannable frequencies and an optional USB player/recorder with LCD screen. Four configurations are available in terms of number of wireless receivers and optional USB player/recorder and the rear panel line input accepts external iPod, MP3 or CD player.

The MTG-100 tour guide and language interpretation system promises secure, crystal-clear, interference-free audio quality. It operates in the licence-free 865MHz or 928MHz ISM band. Two different versions – with rechargeable lithium or disposable alkaline battery – are available, and it fits easily inside a pocket or on a neck lanyard. Three different battery charger stations and carry cases (four, 12 and 28 slots) are available.

In his pre-show press conference, ISE managing director Mike Blackman announced that ISE will be held slightly later in future: the 2014 event will run from 4-6 February, while in 2015 it will move to the second week of February. This is in part to avoid clashes with other shows such as NAB, and in part to allow some more planning time in January.

From humble beginnings in Geneva in 2004, ISE has followed a steady path of growth to become, this year, the best-attended pro AV show held anywhere in the world, with 44,161 visitors. The signs for next year are good, too. By the end of ISE 2013, an area equivalent to 93% of this year’s showfloor had been sold for next year’s event; the organisers have announced that they are planning for ISE 2014 to cover 39,000sqm (net), compared with 33,740sqm for this year’s show. The magic, it seems, it set to continue.