ComQi

InfoComm preview: bring on the gadgets

I finally got my act together sufficiently to book flights down and back to Orlando for InfoComm next week.

I think I have been at everyone of these for about five years now, and it is always an interesting, completely different experience from the digital signage-centric shows.

This is a show for the ops guys – the ones who don’t know much or care much about CPMs and GRPs, but are quite interested in acronyms like HDMI and WUXGA. You know the small booths you see at the back of DSE – with all the cables and connectors guys? They do that show to be there, but THIS is their show.

All the gadget guys are there. All the display guys. It attracts roughly 10 times the crowd of DSE and there are entire sections of the thing that somebody involved in digital signage would ever need to see. If you have been to GlobalShop and wandered by the booths for mannequins and fancy hangers, perplexed and amused, same idea here.

I go because while I am no propellerhead and don’t ever want to spend another late night watching guys hang LCD panels or run cable, I still pay attention to what’s current and what is coming in terms of network gear and how things get done.

There are always thinner, lighter, sexier flat panel displays. There are tons of companies from Taiwan, China and South Korea with little solid state PCs or media players. And there are piles of companies – from Minicom and Magenta Research to ones you’ll never heard of – that have gear that can move video around big footprint venues and hopefully shave costs.

A run through the planning guide for the Digital Signage area doesn’t reveal too many surprises or particularly intriguing companies. I have a client asking me about IP video, so I want to poke around to see how that is done and how stinkin’ expensive it gets.

There are some companies who don’t really show much at DSE or CETW that turn up here – like Visix and Chyron. The AV people are their people. Scala shows up everywhere but this is also their primary crowd – the reseller channel.

Visix, for example, has a 15 inch meeting room LCD sign powered and fed only by an ethernet cable and that has me cuirous.

Brightsign has a seven-panel arch aimed at fashion retail that, in the advance image, looked like a great, eye-grabbing application.

I also want to visit the HDBaseT section, which is a tech alliance that is field testing (or maybe shipping, beats me) tech that runs HD digital viodeo, audio, network, power (POE) and controls all over a single network cable. Distance is limited, but still. Big hmmmm, with arched eyebrows.

A couple of things caught my eye in poking around. A California company, Pix2o, that has an indoor/outdoor waterproof LED wall that rolls up. It has 12.5 mm pixel pitch, which will look decent from a distance, and 6,500 nits outdoor brightness (or, blindingly bright).

What’s cool is that it rolls up on a truss if need, like a set of blinds with horizontal slats and scales up to fairly huge. You can imagine the applications for things like concerts and special events, and how it would come up and down and move a lot easier than big LED wall cubes.

Then there is a German company, EyeVis, with something called Omnishapes. The website doesn’t say what it is but these guys make LED driven display cubes for data walls and this at least looks a little like hexagonal versions of Christie’s Microtiles. We’ll see. That may be a bad guess.

So far, I have booked all of two show floor meetings and turned down pitches from about 50 vendor PR types to get updated on things like lighting room controls. Ummm, no.

If you are going, and you want to grab a water or adult beverage (it’s going to be crazily hot and humid), zip me a note.

If all goes as planned I should be posting day to day impressions, starting with the DisplaySearch conference on Tuesday, which I fear mightily will be an endless rotation of display and mount guys talking about their bezels and trusses. But Chris Connery, the guy who runs it, is a smart cat and will hopefully keep it worthwhile. The Corning guy – talking about glass as a display medium, should be interesting (search Youtube for A Day Made Of Glass).

My content partner, Gary Kayye at rAVe, has a nice, more technical preview of the show here.

Safe travels down if you are going.