ISE Impressions – Day One: Nice Place, Shame About The Lines
January 31, 2023 by Dave Haynes
Integrated Systems Europe has always struck me as a well-oiled machine, but the process of getting into the venue in Barcelona was a bit of a shambles on Day One.
I assume that will all be fixed come Day Two … fingers crossed.
I went a day early to get my badge printed off, so I turned up on Day One ready to march in and get to business. But attendees were blocked outside and asked to produce a bar code on the event app.
I said, probably like a bazillion other people, “Here’s my badge, already printed, good to go!!!”
I was required to whip out my phone and find the ISE app and then the screen with that damned bar code.
So I did, and they let me in the building lobby. I assumed I would then be waved on by the minders like every other trade show I have been to (and we’re talking scores of shows).
I had to get into a new line to get in, even though me and a bazillion others were waving printed badges. So … I got in a line and eventually got to the front to have my ISE app QR code scanned yet again – which sent a signal to a guy who was putting together badges in that line, like a new one for me!
But I already had one???
I mention this because I noticed, 90 minutes after the show officially opened, a massive line-up of people in a queue waiting to get in. It seemed pretty nuts, and would have been a bit upsetting for people who flew in for a day.
The nutty access thing MAY have had something to do with the King of Spain visiting and formally opening the show (means lotsa added security). Whatever the reason, it was a mess in the morning (fine by noon).
Beats me what was going on, but something was a wee bit broken Tuesday …
Setting that aside, the venue in Barcelona is way, way, way nicer than the RAI in Amsterdam. There are more things I could whine about, but in general, the Fira is far superior. There is a mezzanine walkway connecting the halls, with airport-like moving walkways and tons of sunshine coming in the curtain wall windows. Some exhibitors even had sunny lounging areas with fake grass, comfy outdoor chairs and food and booze available.
Now … on to the show.
There are 1,000+ exhibitors here and a whole pile of people. As in past ISEs (and InfoComms), there are entire areas that have only fleeting ties to digital signage … like home automation and pro audio. But the somewhat dedicated Digital Signage/DOOH hall was genuinely populated by companies in the ecosystem.
Yes, there were some lesser-known, lower-budgeted Chinese LED firms in there, and yes, the back area of that hall had groups of people meandering around wearing VR goggles (I’m never gonna get the appeal or business model), but generally the signage software people were in there … including a bunch from Spain and around Southern Europe.
The big money hall has all the big display companies. My lightning observations:
- LG was once again going hard on transparent OLED, which seems like a really limited market. The newest microLEDish Magnit video wall looked great;
- Sony’s newest gen Crystal LED (microLEDish) display looks gorgeous, and I am reliably told there’s a lot of new LCD product coming mid-year that’s tuned to pro display;
- Samsung’s presence was just plain weird. Most of whatever it was showing was behind black walls, and you had to register to get a “private tour.” I basically said “F*ck that” and tried to go in, waving my media pass, but was not allowed. The logic of making people register for a guided tour of a company’s pots and pans escapes me, as I am surely not the only person who just moved on instead. I am interested, of course, in Samsung’s digital signage stuff, but I don’t want a tour that gets me a time-sucking dissertation on collaboration monitors;
- Sharp-NEC doesn’t particularly seem to be in digital signage anymore;
- The Turkish company Vestel has been elevating its presence in the last few years, and had a pile of commercial flat panels and LED, but I need to spend some time in there;
- Same goes for PPDS (Philips), which has really upped its digital signage game in the last 6-7 years. The booth was jammed Tuesday, so I didn’t get much of a look.
I saw some stunning displays from Unilumin and its events/temporary display spinout ROE. Unilumin had a 0.4mm display that was very 4K TV-like, but was just (I assume) a trade show demo. It had some noticeable flaws, but we’re talking an LED that you can put your nose up to and not see the gaps. You will probably have to play midfield for Manchester City to afford one, though … when/if they are marketed.
But it shows what’s coming.
Also … the Chinese manufacturer BOE – biggest LCD maker in the solar system – showed a Chip On Glass 0.9mm display that, as I understand it, is microLED mass transferred on to glass, instead of conventional LED surfaces. It also looked very, very pretty, but not ready for the commercial market.
What intrigued me most about that one was the product description – MLED. For a few years now, display manufacturers have been calling miniLED products microLED, even though they were not. Because micro sounds smaller.
MLED avoids all that. It says both something and nothing.
It is late and I am back at it in the morning.
Sorry Sony for not hitting your party as planned tonight. At 65, my ability to behave badly night after night is limited. Some good local red wine (Priorat, yum) and pizza, and I was done.