I am up early, getting set to head home after a great bunch of days in Amsterdam attending Integrated Systems Europe.
Numerous people asked what I thought, and my general take was and is that this is a show I need to be at each year. The same applies for anyone whose job is to stay on top of innovations and global partners and competitors. The show is many multiples of DSE and somewhat larger than InfoComm. There are substantial swaths of ISE that are filled – like Infocomm – with speakers, microphones and automation systems. But I had three days on the ground there – booked a minimal number of meetings – and still really didn’t cover things off.
If the show sticks with four days next year – I’ll go for four days. You can walk and see things in one day, but if you want to stop and ask questions, you’ll need a lot longer.
There are many education sessions, all over the place, but I didn’t get to any, so I can’t speak to the quality. Some of the on-floor stuff had that look of being part of the deal in booking booth space, but that doesn’t mean the presenters aren’t worth hearing. You just go in knowing there may be a bit of a lot of a sales job.
General day 3 impressions:
- I stopped and spoke with several European digital signage vendors who were unfamiliar to me, and asked what was different about what they did. Some of the answers weren’t all that good (everybody says their stuff is easy to use), but a few struck me as interesting, including:
- Telelogos of France has been in business for decades and started with IoT long before it was a buzz phrase, and has extremely deep, rich device management aimed at mission-critical projects.
- VisioSign of Denmark has done a number of interesting things in health care that I’ve not otherwise seen, and most of its jobs are based on a pile of upfront consulting they throw in to fine-tune a software layer on top of a core platform.
- Navaho in the UK developed its own distribution of Linux – many Linux signage software guys use distributions like Ubuntu – to optimize and make its MediaCat software bulletproof for signage jobs.
- Tailorradio of Italy has expanded from in-store radio to signage, and blends the two, as well as syncs and controls lighting, for retail environments.
- Philips now also has a System on Chip series of pro displays. Like Panasonic, they run on Android and have built-in WiFi. More on that product next week.
- Peerless is jumping,wisely, on the growth of indoor LED, and already has an LED video wall mount that pulls out and pushes in using scissor hinges, as it does with big LCD panels.
- ALL the display guys have gorgeous product. I really don’t think you can make a bad choice from the mainstream guys and some of the better known specialists like Planar. But LG – because of its range of OLED displays and the ultra-stretch 86-inch LCDs it debuted – arguably had the most interesting, buzz-generating stuff. But I really liked Samsung’s transparent OLED and some of NECs monster screens.
General advice if what you’ve been reading and hearing makes you think you need to be there in 2017 …
- The venue is NOT in central Amsterdam, so if you stay near RAI you are not staying in the postcard-charming part of Amsterdam. If you want that, you need to be in the more central areas. That’s easy to sort on maps and Google streetview. But public transport is great in Amsterdam and a tram from the central area with all the canals is just 15-25 easy minutes to RAI. Don’t take the subway unless you have to. It’s tidy and efficient but it is much more of a walk to the RAI than the tram, and it was JAMMED when I took it Thursday.
- The taxis are great – Mercedes in many cases, and there is even a company that runs Teslas as taxis.
- Bake in orientation time and study hall maps. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the hell I was and how to get somewhere, and I am really good at directions. I was still ending up in new halls and walkways on Thursday that I had not seen in the previous two days.
- WiFi is not great, and hard to find. Buy a local SIM card with data. They’re cheap.
- Food on premise was very expensive, as it is with most convention halls. I only had food on premise once, and it was kinda grim. There are lots of food cart and even indoor food truck options, though.
- Many of the booths are just slightly elevated – like 3-4 inches – so if you are anything like me you will constantly be risking turning an ankle or stubbing toes as you enter, exit and pass booths.
- Get good at holding your breath and walking at the same time. The main entry areas were clouds of cigarette smoke. It’s Europe, a lot of people smoke. In Amsterdam bars, you can still buy a pack from machines.
I’ll write more on specific things I saw next week.