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ISE 2019 leaves a lasting impression

ISE Daily editorial director, James McKeown, reflects on a week of firsts at the RAI Amsterdam

Barely two hours separated my final tour of the halls at the RAI and lugging my way through the effulgent corridors of Schiphol Airport, and in some ways it felt as though I hadn’t left the show.

More than any other trade show on our mutual calendars, ISE stays with you long after the curtain has fallen on the event. This is largely because AV is everywhere; illuminating our airports, flanking our motorways, enabling our workspaces. There is barely a facet of modern domestic, professional, or recreational life that AV solutions and technology do not touch; it is omnipresent. Through this lens, it’s easy to see just how much potential for growth this industry has.

The value of this trade show, I have long thought, is in how it succinctly knits all of this together; drawing the many and various component parts of our industry under one roof (or collection of roofs, such is the RAI’s layout), providing the annual showcase for our technology, our thought leadership, and our sense of community. On a personal level, what has long impressed me about ISE is its gravitational pull for the many peer industries that orbit the AV sector – the overlap with the pro audio and broadcast communities is long standing, but ISE is the only time where you feel that these border communities are truly connected.

This year was no different, and I don’t think it is going too far to suggest that ISE is becoming the ‘CES’ for the professional realm, a hub for converging professional technology markets, and it’s expansion to Barcelona will only help to fuel the continued growth of this show into the next decade.

The stats don’t lie
Growth is something in which ISE has specialised under the stewardship of managing director, Mike Blackman. The 2019 statistics would suggest that his ambition to double the size of the event over the next eight years is well placed. The show floor so heavily pounded by the Daily’s reporters was ISE’s largest ever; some 56,100 net square metres containing 1,301 exhibitors, 17 per cent of which were at the show for the first time. Already, 92 per cent of the available floor space for next year’s show has been sold.

The number of registered visitors grew again to a record 81,268, 32 per cent of which were first-time attendees. In another first, the Wednesday of the show saw the largest ever one-day attendance figure for any show at the Amsterdam RAI, while final day attendees broke the 20,000 mark for the first time.

The stats are impressive, reflecting as they do the continuing growth of the pro-AV sector. “As an exhibition, as an unbeatable source of education and professional development, and as a destination for a global industry to come together and do business, ISE 2019 has delivered,” stated Mike Blackman. “Our Opening Address, Closing Keynote, and our two projection mapping features were fantastic showcases for how event professionals and others can harness AV technology to better realise their creativity.”

Show dailies are strange beasts. As editor, you get a unique view of the show without actually seeing it for yourself. The pounding of the show floor is dutifully carried out by our team of dedicated hall reporters, while our conference team covers the growing collection of insight and education sessions on offer for attendees. It is in receipt of this information, plus all of the exclusive insight from AVIXA and CEDIA, that as editor you get a real sense of the true narrative of the event, and this year there was a definite and deliberate focus on the future.

Anyone present at the sessions within the Smart Building Conference, Digital Signage and Cinema summits, Hospitality Tech Summit, XR Summit, and AV Magazine panel discussions on the ISE Main Stage, will have been offered a sense of forward motion in terms of vertical-specific AV technology capabilities and their enabling ability to influence experiential and operational value, as well as AV’s role in the future workplace, and importantly what lies ahead for the wider market. It was hard to pull reporters away from the ISE Main Stage this year, such was the bounty of carefully curated insight on offer.

Outside of the conferences, indeed outside of the RAI altogether, were two of the most striking demonstrations of the industry’s current and future collaborative and technological capabilities. The projection mapping display that illuminated the side of the nhow Amsterdam RAI hotel each evening really was a glimpse of the future; the latest projection mapping capabilities beaming bespoke content on to the facade of an unfinished but architecturally impressive hotel. The project was a collaboration between ISE and RAI Amsterdam, and Technical Partners Green Hippo, LANG AG, Panasonic and Pro Display.

Panasonic also provided the projectors for the world premiere showcase of Sviatovid; the brand new projection mapping sculpture from master projection designer Bart Kresa, who provided the show’s Opening Address. The sculpture provided an eerily captivating audio and visual experience for attendees as they left the exhibition each day, and has quite rightly been lauded as one of the featured highlights of the show.

These two events provided an iconic backdrop to this year’s ISE that will stay with me and I’m sure plenty of attendees for some time. As a show, it proved once again that it is the totemic event on the calendar at which we can measure industry progress at all levels.

The last word
As ever, the definitive tale of the show is best told by those it is designed to serve, and as such I will leave the last word to a selection of show attendees and show partners who have very kindly offered their feedback on ISE 2019 to the Daily. I very much look forward to doing it all again in 2020!

Liam Helm, AV services manager, The Royal Society
“For me this was the best ISE yet in terms of engagement with manufacturers as to how they could help me with upcoming projects. For me this was helped by two factors: I was able to do a fair bit of research and target specific areas of interest and come armed with a ‘to do’ list; secondly, having two full days on the show floor for the first time meant I could take stock after day one and still have time to visit the stands I’d missed.”

Casto Canavate, marketing manager, KNX (ISE Presenting Show Partner)
“This year, KNX was the proud exclusive Presenting Show Partner of ISE, joining forces to expand the scope from AV integration to full integration solutions in the smart homes and smart building sector. ISE 2019 was the perfect platform to connect the professionals with the manufacturers of our industry.”

Graeme Massey, managing director, JacobsMassey
“ISE 2019 was a huge hit for us in many respects. It afforded the opportunity for a number of our clients to specify forthcoming upgrade projects. What they achieved in two days would normally take months!

“Overwhelmingly, we must thank AVIXA. [The association’s] kind invitation to its networking drinks on day two proved to be a fantastic opportunity for us to mingle with many, many clients. So I’d like to personally thank Chris Lavelle and all of his team for being such excellent hosts.”

David Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA
“Congratulations to everyone involved with ISE on another record year. But let’s not lose sight of the many connections – both personal and professional – that were made in 2019. AVIXA defines success as being a catalyst for the growth of the global AV market and a hub for the profession and its practitioners. We certainly saw those twin goals become reality in Amsterdam.

“As always, it is our privilege to work with the talented team at ISE, CEDIA and the RAI. The commercial value of a trade fair like ISE cannot be overestimated nor over-celebrated.”

Julie Berry, IT technician (AV), University of Huddersfield
“ISE gets bigger every year with the big boys competing for the most impressive display; from dancing with holograms to huge wave-like screens, screens that roll up into a box and TVs the size of a living room wall to name but a few. It was simply awesome as always. Every year the technology moves on so fast your mind is blown (and so is your budget too if you’re not careful!). The most interesting tech for me this time was the wayfinding software, hologram displays and 3D audio, all of which I would love to be able to get hold of. Roll on next year, if my feet have recovered by then.”

Tabatha O’Connor, CEO of CEDIA
“We’ve enjoyed an amazing ISE 2019! CEDIA chose this year’s show as the kick off point for our 30-year anniversary celebrations and what an awesome week it has been. Above all, ISE is a great place for the CEDIA global community to connect not just with the many exciting, new technologies on display but with their industry friends and peers as well.

“The show has been a terrific success and we can’t wait for ISE 2020!”

Jon Sheldon, AV production manager, National Gallery
“ISE should really be given a couple of full days at least, probably more. This year we focused mainly on large projection screens for an upcoming replacement project, and also on a couple of other bits of signal distribution kit. Some useful conversations were had with manufacturers, and we found a few bits of kit made by smaller companies we’d previously not heard of.

“As has been the case before, some of the things you see come in handy at a later date for an event or install yet to be planned. More than on previous visits, I came away wanting to have had more time roaming the show.”