Art, Science Intersect at InfoComm14

LAS VEGAS—For professionals grappling with “what next’s” and “who’s who” in the commercial AV community, the annual InfoComm convention, set for the Las Vegas Convention Center from June 18-20, is prepared with the answers.

This is a banner year for the organization, which celebrates its 75th anniversary and rolls into to the Las Vegas Convention Center with expectations for one of the largest conventions in years. Demand for AV technology has grown year over year, whether it’s technology for behind-the-scenes control systems, comprehensive networked audio gear or headline-grabbing opportunities for digital signage.

Organizers expect up to 36,000 attendees at InfoComm14. “Audiences expect to be amazed at live events,” said David Labuskes, InfoComm executive director, pointing to the ongoing growth of digital signage. This interest in particular has resulted in thriving, ongoing interest in the industry, and has ensured that InfoComm is seen as a convention that offers what other larger shows can’t provide: “[the ability to] experience technologies that they haven’t seen anywhere else,” Labuskes said.

New offerings kick off before the show even opens its doors. This year InfoComm will launch two new “Solution Summits,” both aimed at end users and technology managers. One will tackle digital signage, the other will delve into UCC technology (unified communications and collaboration marketplace), with both tracks offering related sessions both before and during the show.

When the show formally opens, more than 36,000 expected attendees from the fields of education, worship, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, and government and military will find hundreds of exhibitors spread out over 500,000 square feet of show floor exhibits and special event space.

Keeping an eye on what’s ahead, Info- Comm will take a slightly different tack this year by welcoming a futurist as the convention’s keynote speaker, according to Betsy Jaffe, vice president of communications for InfoComm. Mike Walsh, author of the book “Futuretainment,” will “offer something different by focusing on what’s ahead,” Jaffe said. At the Opening Session, Walsh will take a look at where the AV industry is headed by looking at consumer behavior, fast growth markets, emerging technologies and analyzing where one intersections with another.

One key area this year will be 4K and the burst of new opportunities the technology has experienced over the last year. Las Vegas proves to be fertile ground for exploring this new opportunity, and InfoComm takes advantage of that with its AV Tech Tours, which offer attendees a close-up look at the technology that’s operating in the real world. One tour will take viewers to the multimillion dollar recording studio located in the Palms Casino Resort, which includes a control room to handle big recording artists; another will check out the 85-foot x 18-foot 4K projection screen driven by Crestron that is the centerpiece of the Mirage Race and Sports Book.

In addition to 4K, the show will touch on video collaboration, interoperability and AV IT technology management. The show also focuses on the audio side as well, Jaffe said, as well as digital video, extending HD connectivity over copper, and standards-based solutions like the cloud.

The convention will again give attendees an immersive experience with its “Interactive Tuesday” sessions, which start with a keynote overview and then puts attendees into interactive training that focuses on complicated-sounding issues like technology management in higher education land project management for live events. The convention puts a heavy emphasis on training, too, with opportunities like the Manufacturers Training and Partner Training workshops. Events that are part of the Partner Training event include the Display Summit, a two-day deep review into display technologies and supporting applications; and IBcon, known as the Intelligent Buildings Conference, that focuses on all aspects in the “Intelligent Building” sphere that work to integrate key business processes into an organization, from video processing to distribution.

That’s what makes InfoComm important, Jaffe said. “It’s a one-stop shop for everything related to the commercial audio video industry, and it offers the networking that everyone needs to do,” she said, from a “Women in Technology Breakfast” to practical hands-on training.

Other highlights include InfoComm’s Lighting and Staging Pavilion, the Security Pavilion as well as the busy Technologies for Worship Pavilion, which will feature AV technology for house of worship staff and volunteers.

Other keynote speakers will include Brian Vessa, Sony’s executive director of audio, who will talk about interfaces between the art and the technology behind the motion picture industry, with a focus on the newest SMPTE standards for the motion imaging industry. In addition to big companies like Sony, Panasonic and Microsoft, niche manufacturers from Creston to Epson to Apantac will be at the show.

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Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.