InfoComm 2012 Notes And Impressions

June 15, 2012 by Dave Haynes

I banged out these notes while somewhere over Nebraska, heading back after a pretty quick tour through the InfoComm show floor. Ideally, two days is enough time, but I only had one free day to run around.

Overall, floor traffic did not seem as heavy as past years, but who knows if my read is meaningful.

The first time I went to this show – maybe 2007 – Scala had a very big presence. The reseller channel was its tribe. I don’t think the company was even there this year, as Scala is shifting – I keep hearing – to direct sales. I know they did have a big presence over in Japan this week.

The digital signage area was pretty substantial, though it tilted much more to gear than to software. I will forget some/many, but saw X2O Media, signagelive, BrightSign, Omnivex, SmarterSign, SpinetiX, Chyron and Visix (which had the biggest presence by a considerable margin). Then there are all the display and gear guys who also have bundled software.

This is a much bigger show for the display guys and they all had a large presence. As you might expect, there are bigger panels, higher brightness and thinner bezels. The seam between panels on high-end super narrow bezel panels is 5.3 mm, which is pretty darn thin but definitely not seamless, no matter how the marketing people try to spin it. From a distance, the visual compromise is pretty minimal.

In a lot of ways, the show reflected how so much of the business these days is about video walls and high impact visual presentations. There were a LOT of video walls, though very few play with shapes other than rectangles.

I saw some 4K screens, and the image quality is spectacular – though these screens make more sense for medical imaging than pushing QSR menus and running ads.

I saw the Dolby-Philips spin on glasses-free 3D. It is indeed better than the other lentincular lens auto stereoscopic displays we’ve all seen at trade shows, but not stunningly so. The technology is still a gimmick looking for truly valid business models. It doesn’t help that the content run on all these things almost always looks goofy and immaterial.

What WAS interesting was learning the Philips-Dolby thing is really just another variant on a lenticular lens, and that it is really the product of a Dutch company called Dimenco, which is a spinoff of Philips. And the PR had been suggesting this was Dolby applying its engineering talent.

Samsung was showing a square LCD thingie it called a Square Type Super Slim Bezel (awesome branding job, fellers). They also call it the World’s First Square Display, which would probably get an argument from the Planar people and maybe all kinds of projection cube people (or are those all 4:3?).

It was really hard to figure out what the hell the Samsung thing was, or its actual form factor. The units were all embedded in a fixture, so they may be 3″ deep or 12″. They DID look nice, however and will no doubt raise eyebrows around Christie, Prysm and Eyevis.

Speaking of that last one, the Eyevis stuff that came on the radar this time last year is now being actively sold in North America through Aydin Visual Solutions. Until now, the German firm was just actively selling in Europe. I can’t speak for the technical arguments when compared with the tile products of Christie and Prysm, but the arrays on display looked really nice and the different shapes they do are intriguing.

Maybe because it was a smaller show, and therefore they stood out more, but it seemed like there were more transparent LCD products at Digital Signage Expo than here. However, one I did notice was from Vewell. They did a nice job, like Planar has done, showing how these things could be applied as small units in higher end retail.

There are always piles and piles of LED companies there, most from China. What struck me was how the pixel pitch keeps getting tighter, with 5 or 6 MM seemingly the norm now. That’s not great when you are a foot away, but viewers would not have to step back very far for the images to tighten up.

I saw one company that was selling LEDs as small rectangular modules that were magnetic and could be snapped together in whatever crazy shape someone might think up.

I also saw some LED curtain walls that had minimal footprints and weight, but produced great visuals. There was something like that tech going in at the Miracle Mile mall on the strip, and the visuals were spectacular.

I chatted with a German company called Ad Notam that had LCDs embedded in glass mirrors. That’s not new, but they do it well and presented it nicely.

The nicest touch stuff I saw was from Perceptive Pixel (but $$$$) and Finland’s MultiTouch. A lot of the touch overlays and edge sensors just really don’t cut it from an experience standpoint. Much of the multi-touch I tried could give users an iPad-ish experience, but with nowhere near the accuracy, and what feels like compromises.

I’m trying to think of the thing that made me stop and say, “Oh wow.” But I don’t think I had that moment.

However, I did see lots of people stop and look and take photos of a Talking Flat lady at the Casio booth. “It’s a projection on some glass, people!!!” You’d think the Pro AV crowd would be about the last mob to be excited by a largely pointless gimmick, but …

I really liked the Fountain of Content thing Arsenal Media did, but they’re friends and maybe I’m a little biased. However, there wasn’t a lot of other content on the floor that strayed even slightly outside the norm.

NEC, however, did a little play on the dancing elves JibJab thing that had people stopping at a kiosk and getting their face captured and stitched into an animation.

There was also an Austin Powers dress-up day thing going wit some deployment company, which on one hand was probably fun, but on the other hand, would send me running. I don’t want fun when I am banging out a network. I want anal retentive people who will talk your ears off about the Project Management Book Of Knowledge.

I also saw a LOT of booth babes in very teeny or tight outfits. It’s 2012, fellas.

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