ISE 2012 marked a sea change in some branches of AV technology. It was the event that saw: alternative lightsources for projectors come of age; large format displays that will eventually challenge interactive whiteboards on price and performance; a resurgence of interest in advanced projection techniques; progress in emerging touchscreen technologies; new levels of maturity in digital signage and unified communication; and control solutions that enable presentation of unparalleled sophistication.
So how do pick the highlights from an exhibition featuring 825 exhibitors? It’s almost impossible to be objective about it, so here is our highly subjective list of exhibits and trends that caught the eye of our editorial team.
1. Scalable projection displays
ISE 2012 saw something of comeback for projection after a succession of events advocating the use of larger flat panels in applications ranging from interactive whiteboards to boardroom collaboration. The focus of this year’s event was on applications that suit the unique characteristics of projection. The Paradigm Display Wall, for example, is designed around Scalable Display Technologies’ products for automatic alignment, blending, warping and colour calibration of projected images. It is a large screen mega-pixel interactive display that sits on the network as an interactive device. The display uses soft edge-blending of standard ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors, usually two or three, to create a wide, high resolution display. Mitsubishi Electric showed an affordable, drag and drop processing technology that enables users to create wide displays with multiple UST projectors, controlling the elements making up the display in real-time.
2. Affordable edge-blending and projection mapping
Edge-blending and projection mapping have previously been seen as complicated and expensive projection techniques, but this year’s ISE saw a number of vendors introduced solutions that bring these technologies into the mainstream. Hitachi showed a software product developed by an education supplier that projected images onto an arch. ViewSonic went a step further, introducing EB standalone processor that enables up/down scaling, format conversion, video walls, 3D decoding, curved surface display, edge-blending, and geometric adjustment up to WQXGA input and WUXGA (full HD) output. The EB series requires no PC for installation and operation; being connected via HDMI cable to the content player and projectors, all which that is required is setting up the screen effect and projector position.
3. Lampless projectors
No longer the preserve of the Pico class, ‘lampless’, or non-UHP, mainstream projectors were the subject of great interest at ISE 2012. The BenQ, in particular, with its Blue Laser Diode lightsource, caught the eye and is sure to challenge the refreshed range of Casio LED / Laser hybrids. With Optoma also in the mix and ViewSonic pitching its offering to the residential market, this will be the year that UHP will start to face some real competition.
4. Installation projectors
The retirement of the Sanyo brand from the projector market sparked a rash of activity at ISE 2012 as vendors vied to take up the slack. Canon showed the WUX5000, with 5000 lumens of brightness and offered with a range of Canon lens options and features to make installation as easy as possible. The WUX5000 is compatible with three different lenses: a standard zoom lens for most typical installations, a telephoto zoom lens for larger environments and a wide single focus lens, which can be used for rear projection applications. All lenses are also interchangeable with the WUX4000 and the WUX5000 has motorised lens shift.
5. 3D displays
Planar is overlooked by much of Europe’s AV industry, popping up at ISE and then disappearing again. But the company is worthy of greater consideration, and to make the point it showed, what it claims is, the thinnest, most visually accurate 3D LCD video wall system. The Clarity Matrix 3D videowall is a stereoscopic visualisation solution made up of 46-inch panels with ‘advanced optics’ on the surface of the LCD. The key point about the product is that it uses cheap, passive glasses. Also, it won’t take up a lot of space, with its EasyAxis mounting system and off-board electronics reducing the install depth to a just 3.6 inches (93 mm).
6. Large format interactive displays
With so much pre-event publicity arising from its CES introduction of Sharp’s new interactive display, many of us felt that we were familiar with this product, even though we hadn’t seen it before. The 80-inch model has been grabbing all the headlines (60 and 70-inch models are also available), sharing a format with traditional IWBs, but with the added benefits of full HD resolution. While Sharp say its new interactive LCD panels are “ideal for teaching in schools and universities” the early adopters of this product are likely to want it for boardroom and conference centre applications and also for digital signage.
7. Alternatives to Surface
FlatFrog is a Swedish developer that we hadn’t come across before. The company has a touch technology called Planar Scatter Detection (PSD) described as an optical in-glass touch solution. Light is transmitted into the glass panel where touch events disturb the particles, so registering the touch. Because the technology is based on the behaviour of light rather than electrical impulses it can detect touch by gloved hands, plastic, rubber or almost any other material as well as finger tips. Elsewhere, Displax showed its new Oqtopus multitouch table with its projected capacitive multitouch technology, Displax Skin Multitouch. This is a transparent and flexible multitouch foil allows 6 simultaneous touches and is thinner-than-paper. It uses a 47” LED display with Full HD and “Smart Energy Saving” technology, and the PC unit runs a Intel i5 dual core 2.5GHz with a AMD Radeon HD 6630M.
8. New device categories
Having already been seen at InfoComm and CES this isn’t strictly an innovation and, even if it is, we are not even sure that we have put this one in the right category. He Mondopad is rather more than an interactive display – it’s an all-in-one PC with a 55-inch monitor. It also can serve as a videoconferencing endpoint (it has audio, a 720p camera and four integrated microphones) and a multi-touch interactive whiteboard. This is the printer-scanner-copier of the AV world, and as such will appeal to some buyers looking for an all-in-one solution. While the all-in-one concept has worked a treat in IT, we suspect that pro-AV buyers going to market for a printer will want a printer, but we would be delighted to be proved wrong.
9. Digital signage partnerships
Growth in the adoption of digital signage has been driven by the large-scale adoption by larger, often international business and organisations. These digital signage buyers are looking for scaleable solutions and stable relationships with their chosen technology partners. This was illustrated by the contrasting fortunes of some well known suppliers. The appointment of administrators at Camvine on the first day of the show highlights the importance of scale and partnerships. Examples announced at the show included the agreement between Signagelive and BrightSign which will see the Signagelive’s cloud-based solution available on BrightSign players. Elsewhere, Advantech showed a bundled solution which pairs its easy-to-install OPS players with compatible flat panel displays from Philips Public Signage.
10. Mobile video walls
Surely the real show stopper here was the new Peerless-AV mobile, multi-screen video wall display stands. Engineered to accommodate screen sizes from 40” to 60” with universal mounting in either 2×2 or the unique (as far as we know) 3×3 landscape configurations, these units are constructed from welded steel for strength, and designed to avoid tipping. They are equipped with industrial standard swivel casters for ease of movement. A horizontal rail system allows side-by-side displays to be aligned, while multiple points of tool-less fine adjustment are provided for a seamless overall appearance.
11. Transparent / translucent displays
Transparent LCD displays were featured by a number of exhibitors and represent a new wave in digital signage applications. Shop windows, retail display cases and museum exhibits are just a few examples of potential applications for the technology. Eyevis showed its translucent LCD displays which are designed to combine digital video content with real exhibits positioned behind them. The displays are available in 22″ and 46″. They have no internal backlight and use ambient light to create a visible image on the screen.
12. Video communications
LifeSize used ISE 2012 to announce its UVC Platform. UVC stands for universal video collaboration, and is designed to integrate the capabilities of multiple single-purpose infrastructure products, making them instantly available from one interface with one login account. LifeSize explained that the UVC Platform makes buying and deploying video conferencing infrastructure more flexible and efficient, and the investment significantly more cost-effective. The UVC Platform includes infrastructure applications ranging from HD streaming and recording, firewall/NAT traversal, and Gatekeepers (routing and control). Across the hall, Radvision announced the today announced the SCOPIA XT5000, the company’s new flagship product in the SCOPIA range. The SCOPIA incorporates dual 1080p/60fps live video and content, HD audio, H.264 High Profile and Scalable Video Coding (SVC), along with iPad Multi-Touch control
13. Shaped displays
Yet another example of taking an established technology and expanding its applications by changing the established parameters, shaped displays offer new creative possibilities to solution designers. The highlight of the Eyevis display was a huge concave-convex shaped video wall made of Eyevis omniSHAPES. These are new DLP rear projection display units which can be combined into polygonal screens of almost any shape. The funnel shaped design of the housings further support curved screens in concave or convex configurations.
14. Gesture control
With the growing demand for interactive digital signage there is pressure on the developers of gesture control solutions to raise their game. Laser phosphor display manufacturer Prysm showed a 2 x 5, TD1-tiled digital kiosk with interactive multi-touch and gesture input capabilities. Responding to the market requirement for signage solutions with lower operating costs, Prysm pointed out that the entire solution draws only 320W. Interest in gesture control is not only limited to digital signage. Crestron, for example, showed the results of some development work undertaken by Crestron Labs. They have been testing a new technology that allows Microsoft Kinect to be supported on any Windows-based system. Crestron engineers created, and are testing, gestures that integrate Kinect with Crestron control. Crestron control systems will read Kinect gestures so, for example, presenters can sweep their hands left or right to advance/reverse a PowerPoint presentation and raise or lower hands to dim/raise the lights in the room.
15. Business models
The role of AV in developing new business models was also something of a theme at ISE 2012. Example on show included integrating NFC into digital signage to support payment mechanisms and the use of transparent displays in vending machines. One of the most interesting developments was shown by NEC. NEC’s Digital Out-Of-Home AdServing platform VUKUNET connects screen owners and media agencies, allowing every internet-connected screen to be potentially turned into an advertising spot, generating incremental revenues. VUKUNET complements NEC’s Field Analyst software, which is designed to provide accurate audience measurement by automatically registering factors such as gender, age, distance from display and viewing time.