InfoComm 2016: Day One Impressions

infocomm16

As warned, there are indoor LED displays everywhere at this year’s edition of the big InfoComm systems integrator-pro AV nerdfest in Las Vegas.

There are two massive halls for this show, and LED companies are all over the footprint of both of them. There is by no means just an area designated for them.

What struck about the good stuff was the scale and clarity of the good product – from companies like Leyard, Silicon Core, Aoto and a pile of others with mostly unfamiliar names. Then of course there are well established visual display guys like Samsung, NEC and Christie who also have and were showing product.

There is also a LOT of budget product from Shenzhen, China companies – some that looked pretty good and some that would only get bought if price was the only determining factor.

3dled

And there was stuff that made me roll my eyes. One company was handing out 3D glasses so that curious passersby could view a giant 3D video wall. Where is that going to ever get used??? Pop-up cinemas?

sonyultrafine

beats me about the lines … you don’t see in person but camera picks up

One booth that was getting a lot of traffic was Sony, which introduced a new indoor LED product called Canvas that is made from its own proprietary crystal LED technology. A lot of AV nerds stood staring at the display and asking each other what it was. Rear projection display, maybe?

You can get up quite close and still not tell it is LED, but if you wait for certain uniform color segments in the content, it was possible to JUST see the little LED modules – 18-inches by 16-inches – all joined together.

ultrafine1

Close-up of Canvas display

The Canvas displays uses surface-mounted light sources Sony is calling Ultrafine LEDs. The booth has an 8Kx2K Canvas display measuring 32 feet by nine feet.

Sony stresses in its PR that this is not indoor LED like everything else on the floor, but different technology altogether.

Ultrafine LEDs measure just .003 square mm in size, or about 1/100th the size of a conventional LED. The tiny LEDs are clustered in threes (one red, one green and one blue) on a Canvas unit, leaving more than 99 percent of the display’s surface area completely and uniformly black.

“Each of those pixels emits light independently, so we’re able to control color, but because the rest of that surface area is black, we’re able to produce incredible contrast on that display,” says Sony’s Kevin O’Connor. “Because the pixels are so tiny, you have to get up within inches of the wall to see them. And any which way you look at this thing, from top, bottom, left or right, you’re going to see the same picture. The colors don’t shift with this technology.”

I can verify that yeah, you need to be really close before you get a sense of what’s going on.

No ship date or pricing yet, but a big wall like this will involve a number with a lot of trailing zeroes.

Atlanta-based Nanolumens was arguably the first company to really go after the indoor market, and in a sea of competitors, Nanolumens wasn’t there, except for a meeting room in a back corner. Instead, the company opened yesterday a Visualization Center aka showroom a few blocks off the strip. So instead of 1-2 times a year showing up with product for shows, they are there full-time.

Another big piece of news out of the show was the anticipated shift of Samsung to its Tizen operating system for new Smart Signage panels.

The fourth-generation of Samsung’s smart, system on chip displays will have a much more powerful processor and an upgraded graphics engine, and narrow or eliminate the performance gap between using a PC to drive a sign, of the onboard chip in these panels.

The new 4th gen displays will allows users to build and launch web-based applications by offering HTML5 support and a comprehensive toolset, including Web Simulator and Tizen Emulator.

Why this matters is a lot of the restraints about what kind of content will run OK on SoC displays goes away, and Tizen already has a large developer community. LG already uses a mobile OS – WebOS – and the other, most recent SoC panels from Panasonic and Philips run Android.

There are not a lot of signage CMS companies at the show – certainly not with booths. But amazingly, I ran into yet another new company – called Visualz. The little micro-booth had visitors, so I didn’t have a chance to find out what they were all about.

The thing that impressed me most on Day 1 was only kinda sorta vaguely a signage product. If you lump projection mapping in as signage, then yeah, it fits.

christie-mystique

It was in Christie’s ice hockey themed booth, that had all the staffers wearing hockey jerseys with their names on them, and a big faux hockey rink in the centre of the enclosed booth. OK, fine, Christie is mostly a Canadian company and we do like our hockey, but the real reason was to highlight how a new bundled solution makes projection mapping on things like NHL rink surfaces easy.

Sports fans may have noticed in the last couple of years how game openers for some hockey and NBA teams are all about dimming the lights and turning the competition surface into a projection canvas.

What Christie has done – led by James Robinson who was a featured speaker for me last fall at DSrupted, is put together an end to end software solution called Mystique that helps ideate and envision what it might look like, build and calibrate it, and then manage it. The software amps up earlier software called Twist, and makes it relatively easy to put together a whole solution and sense how it will look and work before a projector is ever put in place.

Christie had a scale model arena and rink over in a demo area showing how the set-up works, including custom content. The product is aimed at sports arenas and theme parks.

I think the product and the way they are showing it is brilliant.

Crowds at the show looked pretty good, but I’d hardly describe the hall as jammed. Maybe at the big booths at the front, but there were crickets chirping at the back and people selling stuff I had no interest in were trying to flag me in just so they had someone to talk to.

Day 2 is stupid busy for me, again, but I’ll post some more impressions tomorrow before I’m outta here.

 

 

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

@sixteennine

Decade-old blog about digital signage and related tech, written by industry consultant and shit-disturber Dave Haynes.
Sharp Debuts Low-Cost Pro-Grade LCD Series https://t.co/li2jSfhMYD https://t.co/FTgpnBgGJv - 1 day ago
Dave Haynes