ISE 2020 Is Underway – Set-Up Day Impressions

It will be 16C in Barcelona today, and sunny. It will be 6C, or roughly 20 degree F cooler, plus cloudy and wet and windy, in Amsterdam.

So while I generally like this place, I am totally at piece with Integrated Systems Europe being on the Mediterranean coastline this time next year.

I will also not miss navigating the RAI, which was apparently designed and expanded by people who spend a lot of time in Amsterdam’s famed coffee shops, which maybe I guess (dunno) sell coffee, but mostly sell cannabis and hash (is that cannabis, too?).

I had a meeting in one building that I could see, if I looked out a window, but could not get at unless I went downstairs, upstairs or outside. There are things about this quirky place I am still discovering, in my 5th visit. There are 15 halls, joined by walkways at varying levels. Sometimes they are straight, level lines. Most times, nope.

It was the usual organized mayhem around the building complex Monday, exacerbated by lots of people unable to get to Amsterdam because of weather/wind-grounded flights, or severe delays. While it is pretty clear attendance will be down because of coronavirus restrictions and worries, there will still be a hell of a lot of people and stands.

ISE is a rare show that lets people like me in on set-up day, so I can wander and preview some stands as they set up, and chat with execs who are on hand for set-up but mostly watch. It is the one time many aren’t stretched 25 ways.

What I saw wandering around were lots of giant stands, and very little evidence of companies pulling out.  The exception was the big hole at the front of a main hall that normally has a very large, OLED-filled LG booth. Instead, there was a courtyard set-up going in, ringed by food trucks and concession stands.

There are still in excess of 200 companies from China here. While I saw many stands in set-up mode, from Shenzhen and elsewhere, populated by techs wearing N95 masks, I saw many others where no one was wearing a mask. Of course, just because it is a China company, and the people at the stands are Asian, those people could live in Milwaukee or Milan and therefore pose as much viral risk as someone from Iceland.

I saw lots of messaging on RAI screens about hand washing, sneezing into sleeves, no hand shaking and so on. I did not see a single hand sanitizer dispenser, but assume they will positioned in common areas today. Certainly, stands will likely have pump bottles, and I have my personal stock.

As for tech – there is a reason I’ve been through snowstorms, car wash rain and gale force winds to be here this week – LED will be the feature piece for the signage crowd. At least what Pro AV and display nerds will jabber about.

Stuff was still getting put in and lit up, for the most part, but some stands were built and good to go by Monday afternoon. My first impressions:

  • Leyard has a 0.6mm direct view LED wall that looked beautiful. It was only a couple of years ago this would have been a proof of concept thing that size of a tablet or pizza box;

  • ROE – which is focused mainly on the high-end rental market (think touring concerts) – had a 2.3mm wall that run through video processing tech from a startup called Megapixel VR looks like it was a 1.2mm or something. Good content also helps;

  • Christie is showing a version of its direct view LED MicroTiles that is 3D. All I can think s is that this is maybe for the cinema and attractions market. Otherwise, it’s a big why;
  • Sony still has a big booth, but it has a much smaller Clear LED display than previous years. If the tech hasn’t advanced – why fix good? – then maybe the thought is why focus on marketing heavily tech that most attendees have already seen;
  • Panasonic is going big on e-sports tech, and if their demo area plays audio at the levels running yesterday, it will generate many complaints from adjacent exhibitors (it sounded like an F1 race);

The show starts formally this morning. I am already up because why would my body want to sleep in a strange bed. 

If you are at ISE for the first time, and new to Amsterdam, take the M52 subway line from the central district. DON’T get on the other line that has a RAI stop. That one will get you there, but then you will walk something like a kilometre to the main entrance. The newish M52 line has a stop RIGHT IN FRONT of the RAI (Europaplein).

The show’s organizers continue to put out notices about the impact of the virus on proceedings, and advice:

While there have been no additional updates, as advised by the World Health Organization, the ISE team as well as those at RAI Amsterdam have put the following precautions in effect:

  • Respecting travel restrictions where they may exist
  • Health information and first-aid points are prevalent across the RAI, with the first-aid phone number available on all printed attendee badges
  • Additional hand sanitising facilities and hygiene recommendations have also been made available, with personal hand sanitiser bottles available for distribution
  • Plus, additional cleaning and sanitising of all registration equipment
  • Focused presenter protocol that includes the cleaning of keyboards and microphones after every speaking session

As well as for all on-site attendees and personnel to follow these precautions:

  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands)
  • Avoid handshaking or excessive contact, a simple verbal greeting, or fist bump will do
  • Frequent hand washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
  • Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals

There is not, as far as I know, any livestock or wild boar roaming the RAI. If they are, they are probably hopelessly lost, like the humans.

Onward …