Our 2017 InfoComm Experience
Our team has returned from Orlando, bringing new knowledge from this year’s InfoComm conference and expo. For this Experts’ Corner blog entry, a few of the ESCO attendees have shared key take-aways, stand-out trends and products, and their overall experience at the world’s largest AV event.
Jim Tchinski, Technical Solutions Engineer
Each year of InfoComm brings many new products, and protocols that they are based around. There usually is one thing that stands out the most each year, creating a sort of theme throughout the show floor. Several years ago, it was the network AV transport protocol HDBaseT for which everyone had a new product. Two years ago, it was Dante network audio that was in many products. This year it was “AV over IP”.
AV over IP is newer transport protocol that can reside on the network and traverse ethernet switches. It has the capability of providing uncompressed video over the network when used with 10 Gigabit, or now even 1 Gigabit switches with some products. This allows source devices to be encoded and placed anywhere on the network along with decoders placed at the display devices. This does not have to be a point to point connection anymore with AV over IP. Once the stream is on the network it can be directed to any display or combination of displays. This allows for a full virtual matrix on the network. This could be used for large training rooms, digital signage deployments or security centers, for example. Kramer Electronics has a line that can support nine transmitters and 81 receivers in a video wall mode, and over 200 receivers from each transmitter in multicasting mode. These devices also allow for RS-232 control of the display. Crestron, Atlona and Aurora Multimedia are just a few other manufactures that also had products to show.
Video walls for indoor/outdoor digital signage that are made with LED sectional panels made a big impact this year. Many manufactures including Christie, Absen and Unilumin showed their panels in different configurations from small wall displays to stadium size. They all have a basic design – panels that interlock together with interconnecting cables between the panels. Usually there are two cables between panels – one for power, and one for data and video signals. Displays can be made into flat screens, curved screens or can go around 90 degree corners.
LG has new OLED TV’s that are very slim called Wallpaper TV’s. At a thickness of less than 4mm, these TV’s look like picture frames on the wall. The input/output and power supply module is mounted separate from the TV connected by a ribbon cable. Great for Digital Signage displays and rooms where you want the monitor to catch your eye.
Kevin Watson, AVL Engineer – Business Development
InfoComm 2017 has come and gone, and though the weather was not as bright and beautiful as we hoped, the vast amount of LED video walls sure were. Video walls, new audio products, and some good courses caught my attention while I was in Orlando.
I started the week attending courses in network traffic analysis, loudspeaker listening technics, and the new wireless spectrum. The network analysis course introduced me to Wireshark, a powerful program that will surely be used as more and more AV devices and protocols become networked based. We have to know whether there’s enough room before placing our devices on the network, and then once on, be able to troubleshoot any issues.
The loudspeaker listening course was a great reminder of how loudspeaker drivers interact with each other and with your ears, all shaping the way we hear reinforced sound. Though ear buds can be great for blocking out unwanted noise, there is still something about listening to a great sounding loudspeaker!
My last course was on the new wireless spectrum, which has been changing and getting smaller for the AV industry. The “safe” frequencies are 470-614MHz, but we will share them with Digital TV, so we still need to check the area they are in. The good news is that manufacturers, such as Shure, are coming out with more advanced products that allow more channels per frequency.
Speaking of Shure, while stopping in their booth we saw a new small body pack for their higher end wireless line, as well as some new wireless gooseneck and desktop mics for their ULX-D line, which should be great to work with. Other nice audio finds included a new small format mixer from Harman/Studer, some nice add-ons to Atlas/IED paging and intercom systems, and a sweet soundscape produced by d&b in their demo room demonstrating the experiential impact of multi-channel reinforcement for live performance!
Though there were many great products, I found myself checking out the differences in scheduling panels as their price has come down while use goes up for education, house of worship, and commercial markets. But of course, the eye-catching pieces of the show came from some great looking projectors at Optoma, and LED walls. The great part of InfoComm was getting my hands on two LED walls and how they go together for a quick setup and tear down. No video or spec sheet can help you get the feel of actually putting them together!
Gary Dunn, Executive Vice President, Strategic Accounts, Business Development
Bigger, brighter, all-in-one solutions and the Cloud are words to describe this year’s InfoComm conference and exhibit held in Orlando. Displays continue to get bigger, brighter and with higher resolution. 5K resolution is forthcoming along with 4K laser projectors. Large LED’s displays are dropping in price and HD resolutions are giving way to UHD. And the market for flexible display surfaces is growing in commercial applications such as transportation where adapting bright and bold displays to various mobile surfaces is in demand.
But the single most notable change in this year’s exhibit was the number of manufacturers offering all-in-one solutions, combining all manners of audio/video components along with single box control systems. The usual providers of control systems such as Crestron and Kramer were showing their new and expanded line of products. Crestron showed their Mercury tabletop single box conference system and Kramer showed their Kramer Control (Cloud-based) and Maestro (conference in a box) products. Notably, audio giant QSC introduced Q-SYS, (A/V control) which expanded their traditional audio product offering into the systems control space. Each of these manufacturers, and several others who were in attendance, are trying to be single source providers for all things A/V control and conferencing. Additionally, the industry is starting to move from DSP site-based control to core-based control protocols offering cloud-based programing and systems management.
The A/V industry times, they are a changin’!
Darin Hutson, Technical Solutions Engineer
This was my fourth trip to InfoComm in the last seven years. On the surface, you see the same thing every year when you step out onto the show floor. There are big screens, loud speakers, bright lights, and little black boxes that do stuff better than anyone else (when they start shipping, of course.) This year was no exception, though you did have to dig a little deeper to see how those little black boxes have improved, how they’re better than anyone else’s.
Displays are still getting bigger and brighter, and there seemed to be more manufacturers playing in the game, many of which were Chinese companies whose names are not very familiar here in the states. Everyone had a speaker and processors; Crestron and Kramer, who are typically known for video and control, showed off theirs.
The one newer technology that is gaining ground, is AV over IP. Many of the typical manufacturers all have some version of this technology, and will soon be shipping. The premise is that we will route video from source to display using standard Ethernet switches. Most would agree that these ethernet switches should still be standalone from the corporate network, but in theory they could be. The problem that the industry is trying to overcome is bandwidth. Most of the video is now 4K and beyond. With the deeper colors and high dynamic range (HDR), we are easily pushing 18 GB and growing; many of the cables installed in the last couple years only go to 11-13 GB. After seeing all of the new hardware that will be on the market this year, I have no doubt that over time this will be the new standard.