Friday, 11 July 2014

2014 InfoComm Report

InfoComm 2014 Report  -  Tom Bray, DMC Las Vegas, NV  - June 20, 2014

InfoComm is a trade show/conference for AV Professionals, Technology Managers and Manufacturers.  They have speakers, offer classes, and have a show floor with lots of products, similar to NAB or SIGGraph.  InfoComm 2014 had about 36,000 attendees, and the theme this year was “AV is IT”.  I only had one day on the show floor, having come from the NMC conference Thursday night.
There was a lot of product of all types dealing with Audio Video Bridging, or AVB.  AVBis the less full-featured, less expensive version of the slew of AVB solutions out there, and there is an industry concern that the AVB approach will never get the market penetration it needs, requiring manufacturers to continue to use proprietary networking tools.  The AVnu Alliance is the group that establishes interoperability standards for AVB products.  Dante, which exceeds the baseline standards of AVB, is the clear industry leader in the high price market and so seems to be driving things.  It is more expensive to license per product, but the product that are incorporating it are already expensive and so it doesn’t affect their price much.  (Dante is at the heart of our RedNet installation.)  AES 67 is a relatively new addition to the conversation, intended to establish interoperability between existing proprietary AUDIO systems, like Dante.
Mersive  is a collaboration software solution. It requires a display attached to a PC to run the software, and they have very small client software that must be downloaded for each device.  They cover IOS, Android, Mac and Windows.  And they tout the ability to combine otherwise incompatible systems in a shared “pixel landscape”.  It looked worth investigating from the show floor.   
I just received a free 30 day trial license and we will be checking it out in the Maze.  
BlueJeans is moving forward with better bundled services, recording in the cloud, and they continue to attract university and corporate customers.  BJN technologists are currently working on a WebRTC client that works with Chromebook.  When finished there will be no plug-ins required for Chrome, Firefox or Opera web browsers to enter a video conference.  A new premium feature admin interface allows bitrate, loss, jitter and latency measurements analysis for every participant/resource.
“Lamp free” technologies were being shown at many booths with Laser/LED/hybrid light sources offering upwards of 20,000 hours of life expectancy.  This is not brand new, but there seemed to be a lot more offerings this year (see Christie Digital).
Casio no filter/no bulb projectors offer bright images, but color fidelity is not quite up to the current EPSONs, for example.  Casio models hover around $2,000 and they were showing a $2,000 “image warp” add-on that will lets you corner pin and warp the picture around a round column, for instance.  It was just HDMI in/out with it’s own remote, so I asked why it had to be used with a Casio projector (box is on top, below).  Apparently they have some sort of handshake as the control options are grayed out with other projectors.

Corning Thunderbolt and USB over fiber cable was cool.  The fiber cable itself can be bent and tortured with no ill effect to the transmission.  You can see the light coming out of the end of the fiber below, after going through all those bends.

The cable comes with small transceivers (copper-to-fiber) built into the connectors.  USB version also has an electrical wire to maintain the power delivery specification.  They were touting a $150 rebate at the show when purchased with a LaCie Thunderbolt drive.  The rebate is available through July 31.
Christie Digital was showing a lot in the high end.  The 4K projectors looked great.  More interesting was their tech demo of ‘automated’ projection mapping (see video) which still requires lot of work but offers an interesting portability.

Here’s a video clip showing how it worked.
The GS projector series was Christie’s “lamp free” offering, with higher outputs (and higher prices) when compared to the Casio models.  They were really touting them as ‘maintenance free for a really long time’ rather than talking about the image fidelity, as they are 1-chip DLPs.

Christie also had a very interesting tracking system for a touch screen setup.  It used a top row of IR LED transmitters and had receivers on the other 3 sides.  This allowed it to track multiple touch points even as they were occluded from one perspective or another.  Multiple people could use multiple fingers at once, and you could also use the whole side of your hand.  Felt very natural to use.

neovo was one of many Chinese companies now doing direct contact through shows like InfoComm, where previously Chinese manufacturers had not had such a presence.  
They had very interesting 2-sided displays.  2 HDMI inputs and power supply are hidden in the lower part of the stand.  

The demo they had was a retail display with a transparent LCD panel as the front, into which you could put products and have info and cool graphics moving on the window.  You had to have the box as this housed the LEDs illuminating the panel from behind.  Not sure where this will go, but it was fun.

SMART Technologies “SMART kapp  SMART Technologies’  SMART Boards are ubiquitous, but the SMART kapp could be a game changer in white board collaboration.  It really is easy to connect your IOS or Android device (Windows coming soon).  This link goes to a Marketwatch article with a much better explanation than the actual SMART kapp site does.  Right now the only model is small (42”) but large ones are coming.  MSRP for this one is $900, and AVI/SPL is a reseller.  
(Somehow I ended up without photos of this, but the links are fine.)
For some reason, Yamaha is really getting deeper into the microphone/speaker/echo canceling business.  2 interesting options that are powered over USB are the PJP-10UR which is about 4” tall and is intended for 1 or 2 users with a laptop, and aimed at traveling use.  The PJP-20UR is a triangle about 6” wide and looks like a good contender for conference rooms.
Atomos Ninja Star is a tiny recorder for aerial use was introduced at NAB this year.  Small and light, it is designed for pairing with a camera and drone, as shown below.
It records to the newer C-Fast flash media in 10 bit 4:2:2 Apple ProRes.  Weighs 3.5 oz, and if you use their battery add another 1.5 oz, but it can be powered from most on-board drone batteries.  Available mid-may 2014 for a retail price of  $295.  You can preorder them at B&H.
More info on Cfast media from CNET.

Tom Bray

July, 2014

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