Infocomm 2017: Day Two Impressions – Where Are The Gimmicks?

June 16, 2017 by Dave Haynes


My time on the floor was pretty finite on Day 2, but here some quick impressions …

Panasonic now has a projection mapping software tool aimed at the sports market, going after Christie and its Mystique software, which makes projection mapping possible on the competition surfaces of, for example, an NBA or  NHL arena. Panasonic’s seemed aimed at the larger canvas of American football and global soccer stadiums, which is interesting, since most of the games are played during the day.

I always assumed ice was an ideal surface for projection mapping, but in the Big Canvas session I ran Thursday, Olivier Gagnon from Quebec City’s 20K, said it was actually really bad because the projection images don’t reflect well.

There are precious few qimmicks on the floor, at least that I saw. Just one company with glasses-free 3D and that was an LED wall, not an LCD. It looks particularly horrible and pointless in LED, by the way.

I know there is a VR area somewhere on the massive floor but I haven’t bumped into it yet. I did see an immersive combo floor-projection/curved video wall thing dubbed at Virtularium at the NEC booth. Big shrug, really, but I’m not the market and this stuff, to me, is heavily, heavily dependent on great content.

Kinda sorta feeling like you are in a shark tank (even 4K stretched over many narrow bezel displays) didn’t move me.

A virtual TV set Planar/Leyard had running is clever. It uses LED on the floor and walls to show an animated surface – in this case the deck of a ship, with stairs. People could walk into the set and see themselves on monitors. I could imagine broadcasters doing some interesting things with this, though something similar has long been possible with green screens/chroma keying (and way cheaper).

Unless I missed it, there is just one booth here showing (not) holograms – the Japanese company that was also at DSE and I saw, as well, at InfoComm China.

I did a Q&A thing with MVIX on the massive and impressive CenterStage feature, which cycles through speakers every half-hour. Like a lot of people, I suspect, I didn’t know MVIX, based outside Washington, DC, has one of the larger head-counts among signage software and solutions company. I assumed they were 25-35 people like a lot of companies, but they have 70 and got the sense business is rocking. Got a quick software demo, as well, and it looked good (though I always like to see more device management).

UK-based Tripleplay is another company I didn’t know much about, and assumed it was pretty small. But it is pushing on 100 people and has offices in numerous companies. It comes out of IP video streaming and added digital signage. So there is this interesting combination of being capable of providing both the broadcast TV and the digital signage, off the same platform and set-top boxes, for hotels and stadiums. You’ll hear a podcast with the CEO soon, along with ones involving D3 and Telecine.

As has happened at other shows where I have seen it, people seem entranced by Sony’s micro LED video wall technology, called CLED. A huge wall eats the Sony booth like it did a year ago. But I don’t get the impression it is much more than trade show catnip, for now. That wall, I am told, would cost $2 million if someone ordered it – so maybe Vladimir Putin will put one in his dacha.

The only other display tech I see drawing stares like that is the wide variety of OLEDs in different configurations at LG’s booth. As in previous shows where I have seen this, the company does a nice job with content and using hydraulics to subtly move displays to alter configurations.

I don’t know why some companies are calling their LCDs LEDs – like Mitsubishi. It had a four panel LCD wall it clearly labeled as LED, and it was clearly not. Sure the video nerds know it’s LED illuminated LCDs, but it’s confusing, for no evident reason.

Control rooms are being touted as a good market and use case for fine pitch LEDs, and I wondered if the displays would be sufficiently crisp to use in that way. From what I saw, they can, particularly at 1.5mm (see bottom left of above).

The logic of playing ear-splitting 90s rock and pop on speakers at the main entrance into the InfoComm halls escapes me. The poor people working outside are probably scarred for life hearing Britney Spears at 130 decibels.

InfoComm did an indoor beer garden/food truck thing this year, but I’m not sure that worked. It was waaaaaaaaaaay at one end, past the lighting and rigging guys and fog machines. I’d wonder how many attendees who crowd the main hall would ever find their way there, and when they got there, be thrilled to see the beer was Bud Light. Swell.

There are, of course, rumors drifting around the show. People leaving companies, and companies for sale or in trouble. I heard one software company,  quite well known, was having payroll issues because an investor dropped out. That’s a rumor only, so I’m not bringing up a name. I heard another company is irritating the hell out of resellers by also doing direct sales – which is always a really delicate dance.

The outdoor display market must be hot because I must have had four or five conversations with companies that are going hard after that market, for digital OOH and fast food drive-thrus. It’s a market that LG MRI dominates at the premium end and companies like Samsung are after with daylight readable displays.

One more, almost full, day here and then home to a weirdly warmer Toronto. It has been been overcast and mostly wet all week here, and not all that hot. It’s still a bit sticky because of all the humidity, but going outside is not at all punishing. Last year I thought I was having a heart attack walking 400 yards to the convention centre in 90F heat and 90% humidity.

Next year, the show is back in Las Vegas, first week of June. Not much chance of rain there. It’ll be 118F, but a dry heat.

Safe travels home!

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