ISE 2019 seemed to be a story of consolidation in many areas. Even from the organisers’ point of view, vertical markets and whole-system approaches drove the conference content, rather than any particular hysteria over individual technologies or standards. The new conference programme at the nearby Okura hotel was a perfect example. This was the first-time events have been sited outside the RAI convention centre, and it featured summits for five vertical markets: Digital Cinema, Hospitality, Attractions, Digital Signage, and XR (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies). Admittedly, while specialist, the last two aren’t quite vertical; but diagonal probably counts as progress too.
The Agora event concentrated on sports venues, and rather than taking the easy route of rounding up any box that might fit in a stadium and putting it in the RAI Forum, the three pillars of Agora were the fan experience, stadium infrastructure, and planning for ceremonies and events. The Smart Building Conference, held the day before the exhibition started, explored the latest trends in making bricks and mortar work a bit harder for those inside.
All this practical detail and application of technology might be one of the reasons why the ISE exhibition is flourishing while other tech shows, particularly in related markets, have been floundering. The show does seem to represent purpose for attendees, rather than a day off work and a (reusable) plastic bag full of pipe dreams. The proof was in the numbers – just over 81,000 attendees, and more than 27,000 newcomers.
Manufacturers, for the most part, followed suit with the real-world application theme. Those who supply multiple markets tended to address them individually rather than simply putting products on podiums. There were many ambitious stands that set out market-realistic environments. The Sennheiser stand, for example, was a montage of office and meeting room spaces, with technologies such as its impressive new Ceiling 2 beam-forming microphone and Control Cockpit software for central, network-based control of every component.
That one stand encompassed a lot of what ISE 2019 was about. First, there’s networking, which not only allows audio and video content distribution but facilities central control and management. That is the perfect opportunity for whole-system infrastructure and approach.
TOA, a company that manufactures a huge myriad of solutions for anything from voice evacuation to public address and pro audio, is another example and has made a concerted move towards systems approaches and addressing vertical markets with individually tailored messaging.
Everything over IP
Networking was the foundation of many product developments at ISE 2019, and something that is now informing the ambitions of Pro AV integrators on an hourly basis. Indeed, it might be that those ambitions are outstripping what’s possible at the moment, as it’s much easier to imagine unlimited bandwidth and industry-wide transport and control standards than it is to realise either one. It is apparent however that the industry needs networks – so it definitely needs network expertise and network fluency.
A significant networking story at ISE was the continuing rise of Audinate’s Dante AoIP protocol and the forthcoming incorporation of video transport with Dante AV. Generally, Dante presence at the show has reached commonplace status, with audio products listing Dante ports in the same breath as balanced XLR and phono. Dante AV, however, promises a whole new level of AV convenience as the video routing is integrated into the Dante Controller software as just another device. It will take a little while for manufacturers to start incorporating the Dante AV hardware into products though, so that might be a trend prediction for next year’s ISE?
Also, the emerging NewTek NDI AV-over-IP solution – a royalty-free IP technology for bi-directional transport of video, audio and data over standard networks – has been making waves. It hosted the NDI showcase at ISE 2019, with examples of digital signage, PTZ cameras, media servers, and more on show from manufacturers such as BirdDog, Panasonic, and Teracue.
Occupying another port, so to speak, was AVB and the gathering momentum around the MILAN IP protocol – a determined effort by an expanding group of Pro AV companies to turn AVB into a complete and open-source solution with long-term legs for the AV markets. The big news at the show was that Adamson has joined the family, and already has a new MILAN-ready loudspeaker: The CS-7P.
The Huddle Phenomenon
Conversations overheard at ISE 2019 commonly included the words ‘digital whiteboard’ and ‘huddle room’. While the huddle room is being driven by corporate trend and capitalised on by systems integrators, the rise of the interactive, multi-touch, high-resolution and connected screen has been technology-driven. It was difficult to miss while wondering around the show, as almost every isle featured interested attendees trying to draw, swipe, and select on something big and bright.
There were simpler implementations with Windows Teams, and more sophisticated offerings with intelligent drawing recognition that picks library pics depending on your own scribble, or with sensor technology that does everything from managing the environmental variables to working out who has approached the screen and providing bespoke content and access.
Pro AV Display Team
Other ISE buzzwords included ‘pixel pitch’ and microLED. While 2018 was probably a peak for ‘up and coming’ microLED chat, there were plenty of product announcements around low pixel-pitch technology, as well the related resolution races, including a rash of pro 8k products and solutions, led by Samsung with its QLED technologies and an impressive 292-inch 8K version of The Wall.
Projection mapping was also highlighted, and not only on the booths where the science of mapping and alignment was being advanced by companies like Christie (Mystique) and VIOSO (Anyblend). One of the show-stoppers was a daily projection mapping display on the new show Amsterdam RAI Hotel delivered by Green Hippo, Lang, Panasonic, and Tenfeet, with sound by Alcons Audio. Another was Projection Artist (and the show’s opening speaker) Bart Kresa’s Sviatovid, a sculpture projected in 4k using four Panasonic PT-RQ32 4K, 30,000lm laser projectors outside the exhibition halls.
Innovation’s What You Need
Christie’s Mystique Install was one of the deserving winners at the InAVate Awards, which featured a range of technology and project categories. Some of the tech highlights included AV Stumpfl’s Pixera one media server technology (Technology for Museums and Attractions category), d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape object-based immersive audio system (Technology for Entertainment/Live Events – Audio category), and Digital Projection’s Insight Laser 8K (Technology for Large Venue Presentation category).
On the project side, Bloomberg and AVMI won for Bloomberg’s London HQ in the Corporate Facility category, and Diversified won in the Control Room category for the spectacularly titled IBM X-Force Command: Cyber Tactical Ops Centre. However, the best project name has to be for the brief but weighty ‘NATO HQ’ which was the Government or Public Sector Facility winner for Arup.
Corporate news was not fast and furious at the show, though Biamp announced it had bought Cambridge Sound Management and its high-end sound masking technology, while Control4 announced its acquisition of NEEO – the smart home technology company.
It was also noticed that Harman Professional had a significant presence at the show. As well as showing a few new products from its many brands, it was pushing the coalescence of those products as tools for improved customer experience in the Samsung Nexshop platform.
That’s a Wrap
All in all, there was plenty going on at the reassuringly busy ISE 2019 exhibition: Enough innovation to keep dinner conversations alive, balanced with enough progress to keep Pro AV growing. It’s predicted to grow from $186 billion to $230 billion globally by 2023, according to AVIXA – one of the co-owners of the ISE event.
ISE is an important international AV show – maybe even the most important one. So, some nervous people are already working out how to keep the momentum going after the final Amsterdam show next year, for the 2021 move to Barcelona…
ISE Round Up
Chris Schyvinck - CEO Shure Inc
Damon Crisp with AED
Digital Coffee with Chauvet
GLP LED Display
Jo winding down at the airport after a busy show
Kim de Boer Dutch Voice Finalist with Shure
LG OLED Display
Mark Risby of Digibox talking NDI
More cool display tech from LG
Richard Isabelle Marjorie and Christophe with Shure
RW and Shure Systems Team
ISE with our friends at PRO AVL Central
Busy Sennheiser Stand
Jazz at the Bimhaus