InfoComm, the largest professional audiovisual event in North America, drew nearly 43,000 registrants to Las Vegas this year. Ten of those 43,000 were TEECOM employees. We brought our wish lists from clients and scanned through thousands of expo exhibits and sessions to find the most useful and interesting emerging technologies. Here are the biggest audiovisual trends we noticed:
More manufacturers are coming to market with transparent display solutions, and they’re bringing new kinds of systems to market. These tend to fall into two categories: screens that provide high-definition image quality for close-up viewing for conventional content presentation such as digital signage; and screens that offer a more spread out and diffuse image more suitable to architectural applications. These are suited to large areas and areas with high ambient lighting — anywhere you want to do something brighter with more pop, where there’s sun and you need screen brightness.
Automated Pan/Tilt/Zoom Cameras
Conference rooms generally have fixed cameras or ones that can be robotically controlled to pan and tilt. The newest trend is toward wide angle cameras that can encompass the entire room, and then do a virtual pan, tilt, and zoom to one person based on their mouth movement or sound. This move toward automation is great because for smooth and natural collaboration or remote teaching experiences, you want people to move naturally and not have to worry about whether the camera’s following them or if they have to push a button.
Flexible Software-Based Collaboration Tools
Everybody wants to use their flavor du jour conferencing software, whether that’s Join.Me or Zoom or Google Meet or another. These work well for individuals on a laptop, but using Zoom in a conference room that’s built for Google Meet is a challenge. In collaboration spaces and teaching spaces, TEECOM is often asked to provide a solution that allows a collaborator or lecturer to walk in with their laptop, plug in to the room’s hardware, and host a remote session where somebody on the far end is going to present. The far-end collaborator will want to view the room through whatever camera is integrated in the room and hear through the room’s audio. New products are rolling on to the market all the time to address this, and we saw several promising ones at InfoComm18.
Google, Cisco, and Microsoft all showed “smart displays” at InfoComm. These are touchscreen displays that act as integrated collaborative solutions: a single device provides a camera, microphone, display, and speaker. You can launch a Google Meet from the screen, do whiteboarding, add users, turn the camera on and off, and share content. This makes it easy for institutions to provide consistent collaboration tools across a wide variety of meeting spaces or education spaces.
LED Screens Replacing Other Digital Displays
For more than ten years we’ve been seeing displays/TVs getting larger and displacing projection systems, to the point where projection systems are now only used in unusual situations such as classrooms where instructors needs the screen to roll up to give whiteboard access. Increasingly, LED screens, where you’re actually looking at the LED pixels, are displacing these other two types of display technologies. Why? Because the cost of LED is coming down, and the pitch, which is the spacing between the pixels, is getting smaller. That means you can view from closer distances and see actual pictures instead of individual dots. Most important, LED screens offer superior brightness and colors that pop, so they work well in locations with abundant light and places where organizations want their brands to stand out.