LAS VEGAS – It’s very hot.
The Las Vegas Convention Center has renovated the food services area in the north and central hall areas so it looks more polished and the options don’t all lead to desperation eating. But there’s still nowhere enough seating.
AVIXA has a DJ playing dance music in the main entry foyer – at seriously big decibels – to a crowd of mostly middle-aged and white AV nerds. Not a lot of people with midday happy feet. Maybe needs drinks. Lotsa drinks.
I tried the C2 Skylab Experience waaaay at the back, where a Montreal company that changes up meetings and conferences puts people in circular swing sets and hoists them up 20 feet or something to have focused chats. I didn’t/don’t get it. Needed to spin. Or drinks.
The floor looks busy. Brad Grimes from AVIXA says about 1,000 exhibitors and about 45,000-ish attendees expected. This is a big display and gear show and not a digital signage CMS show. There are several companies here showing their software, but the real focus is on screens. Lotsa screens. Big screens.
Some impressions from that:
NEC – Very impressive booth up front. Lotsa pro-grade 4K product. Loved the big upside-down Ls with ambient content – half display, half-projection. NEC announced something called NEC One – a program aimed at providing end-user customers with the “benefits of centralized purchasing, joint product strategy development, global pricing and commercial terms, single sales contact, world class support and after care, and an ever-expanding global network of peers and partners.”
NEC’s Rich Ventura showed me some stuff he can’t yet talk publicly about, but think retail analytics. Years in the works.
Samsung – Massive, massive booth. Packed. Most impressive thing was the pair of very large 1.2mm direct view LED screens. Infocomm is packed with fine pitch LEDs but with the right content you see what having HDR (High Dynamic Range) does for LED. Gorgeous, broad range of colors and contrast. The Wall – the .84mm micro LED display first shown at CES – is here, with big and small versions. The company is now taking orders and saying they think 100 units can ship by Q4 of this year. Hearing cost is something like $400,000, so I’ll take three. Samsung is showing integrators different versions of The Flip – the digital flip chart debuted thus year, with bigger and smaller sizes. I also saw some nice nerd tech like video wall calibration done wirelessly, just using a smartphone app and the system on chip modules in the screens. Calibration in a minute, instead of many, many minutes.
LG – They do great booth. Plus they have lattes. Yay. OLED is now a few years old and most of these folks have seen the tech, but there’s still lots of oohs and aahs. The transparent LED film looks good – with the caveat that it is meant for distance viewing and ambient visuals. LG has a pile of companies using its Web OS smart sign SoC platform, which is heading for version 4 this year. Will visit a few today. LG’s broadening the use of its stretched displays to include things like extra wide video collaboration monitors when paired with kit from companies liker Cisco. They have a videowall display product with 0.6mm edges, for a 1.2mm bezel, ie skinny.
Sony – Still showing its Crystal LED – the micro LED video wall that has anchored Infocomm booths for at least three years now, maybe more. The 32-foot x 18-foot configuration has 288 modules. The booth is very dark, which makes me think they want that to help make the screen look brighter. Sony Bravia monitors look as great as they always have, with sizes up to 85 and SoCs running Android TV, which is essentially the same as the Android used for signage by software shops.
Did not have time to wander into the other major display guys, but will today.
There are roughly 7,000 LED companies from China showing here. OK, maybe 70. Some of these guys have maaaaassssssiiivvvve screens. Some look great. Some look like they’re meant for the discount mall or showroom of the #3 Kia dealer in SW Ohio.
I did chat with another company that has conventional SMD LED modules with some sort of epoxy coating that hardens them and makes them, as the company says, impact resistant. I expect many/most companies will go down this path if there are no issues with trapping heat or with operating lifespan.
Most interesting I saw was was in the back by the C2 ride – a San Francisco start-up called Lightform that makes projection mapping in retail inexpensive and easy. They have a custom-built $700 device that does the accurate mapping, talks to proprietary design software with all kinds of effects, and then relays the output to small projectors.
Very clever, and well done. Projection-mapping has always been amazing, when done well, but it used to require a lot of time and a ton of experience. Not with this.
In bed before 11 both nights so far. Record. But there’s still tonight to be led astray.
Gotta go. Day 2 beckons.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.