Who or what was missing? By Bryan Denyer
It’s hard to imagine conditions more adverse for an event. ISE could so easily have gone the way of Mobile World Congress. So, LG was missing; Up to 50 Chinese companies were prohibited from travelling to Amsterdam; and apparently some 50,000 show visitors were affected by the coronavirus, the storm or both. But, from my perspective, well done Mike Blackman and the ISE organising team for sticking with the plan.
Missing visitors aside, ISE 2020 will be remembered for more than the virus and the storm. As always, the content is the thing. Samsung was reported as having reduced the number of staff available on its ISE booth, but the company went ahead with launch of its QLED 8K signage (model QPT-8K) featuring HDR10+ technology and 100 percent colour volume, ‘perfect colour accuracy’ and 2,000 nits of peak brightness. The new model is available in 65-, 75-, 82- and 98-inch versions, for viewing uninterrupted by bezels.
8K was one of the standout themes of ISE 2020, with the dissuasion having moved on from the “there’s no content for it’ and the “human eye can’t recognise anything more than 6K anyway” conversations of last year. Also, the discussion wasn’t limited to LED or even flatscreens. Visitors to the Canon booth in Hall 1 had the chance to see the company’s ‘imaging ecosystem: which includes its HDR, 4K and 8K projection capabilities and complete line-up of input to output solutions, including cameras and lenses.
Matthew Koshy, European product marketing specialist at Canon Europe explained: “We’re building on the success of ISE 2019 by expanding our input to output showcase, which highlights the importance of having an integrated line-up to deliver unbeatable resolution. Our range of high-brightness and high-image-quality laser projectors on display showed how a cohesive projection systems offers “systems integrators incredible optical performance, simple installation and low maintenance.”
Canon exhibited an 8K projection solution, in partnership with media server software providers, AV Stumpfl. The AV Stumpfl Pixera Two server delivered and managed the 8K content, captured using Canon kit, ensuring Canon’s projectors delivered 8K image quality.
The 8K opportunity
8K also presents an opportunity for less familiar brands than Samsung and Canon. Apantac, for example, known as a manufacturer of multiviewers, video walls, extension and signal processing solutions announced the debut of a new 8K Multiviewer at the show. The MiniDE-4-QUHD accepts 4x HDMI 2.0 inputs and 4x HDMI 2.0 outputs up to 4K @60. It performs in two mode – Multiviewer mode and Video Wall Processor mode.
In Multiviewer mode, users can feed a quad UHD (four 4K inputs) 8K monitor or a 2×2 4K monitor stack. The position, size and aspect ratio of the source windows are user adjustable. In Video Wall Processor mode, the MiniDE-4-QUHD drives four 4K monitors and displays the source signal feeding one of the four inputs in various layouts and arrangements: horizontal 1×4, 1×3, 1×2 or vertical 4×1, 3×1, 2×1, in landscape of portrait mode.
The 7680×4320 output resolution of Apantac ‘s new 8K Multiviewer at an affordable price-tag is said to raise the bar to the next level for high-end graphic workstations and top notch multiviewer applications. Is this necessary? The AV sector’s continuous drive for innovation was questioned at a webinar organised by AV News and featuring speakers from three significant hardware manufacturers (more details below). The argument was made that AV hardware follows the demands of the software community – posing a dilemma for those supporting sustainability.
Nonetheless, the up-and-coming NovaStar also featured 8K with COEX, the company’s first 8K controller, paired with new 5G receiving cards and a new software platform. With the entire system powered by the new Nova image booster engine, this system is said to revolutionize LED controllers, mastering elements of light and shadow for a visual experience that cannot be matched.
Another product form NovaStar, for those not quite ready to embrace 8K is the HDR Master 4K, a new HDR video generator that can be adjusted according to the LED screen’s display characteristics. This optimises the display to show more details in bright and dark parts of the image. HDR Master 4K also allows SDR video to be generated as an HDR10 video source output, reproducing a real and lifelike image.
Not to be left out, the Nova Cloud-Based Display Management System also made a splash at ISE 2020. This system streamlines remote display management, revolutionizing the level of ease and control. Ultimate stability, comprehensive security features, intelligent control, status monitoring, and maintenance all combine to provide an efficient and worry-free total management solution.
As the market for collaborative solutions matures, alliances and partnerships are becoming the order of the day, as the need for interoperability becomes paramount in agile workspaces. Crestron and Logitech are two of the biggest names in the sector, while pretty much non-competing. No surprise then. that the two companies chose ISE 2020 to announce a partnership. “This is the coming together of two industry leaders to deliver the best room experience to our customers. It’s what they want,” explained Randy Klein, president and CEO at Crestron; “Collaborating with Logitech helps us expand our unified communications offerings and helps our customers attain their goal for a more intelligent workplace.”
These workplace solutions pair the Crestron Flex C series with Logitech MeetUp, Logitech Rally or Logitech Rally Plus, to deliver a complete unified communications experience for small, medium, and large rooms. Each system is compatible with Microsoft Teams Rooms or Zoom Room, providing greater choice and flexibility for customers. In addition, each system includes room booking capability powered by Crestron Room Scheduling, as well as a Management portal powered by Crestron XiO Cloud, that seamlessly integrates Logitech’s Sync APIs, aggregating Logitech and Crestron products into one common management platform.
Crestron and Logitech technology work together to provide customers a seamless room experience from videoconferencing to advanced room controls such as lighting, occupancy sensors, wireless presentation, source switching, and beyond. “This ‘meet in the market’ partnership is a true case of 1+1 = 3,” explains Ira Weinstein, founder of analyst firm Recon Research.
“Crestron brings a full line of certified unified communication solutions and cloud management platform, with Logitech bringing additional audio and video capabilities for small, medium, and large spaces. As a result, customers gain access to a broader range of vetted product bundles that are easy to buy, easy to deploy, and easy to manage.”
One thing that customers probably will not be buying from either Crestron or Logitech is the display that sits at the heart of their collaborative solution is the display. Commoditisation and the subsequent falling margins mean that displays attract are only of passing interest to either Crestron or Logitech. Not to worry, Philips used ISE 2020 to announce the new C Line of collaborative displays. Available in 55″, 65″, 75″ and 86″ size variants, the C-Line series comes equipped with a wide range of value-added features. Harnessing the familiarity of a traditional Microsoft Windows PC, users are able to play an active role in any meeting, whether physically in the room, in another office, working from home, or even another country, thanks to its screen sharing capabilities.
System administrators can integrate the displays, using their embedded professional version of the Windows operating system, into the corporate infrastructure strategy, whether this is a full Microsoft environment (Exchange, Teams, Azure, etc) or, for example, a Google implementation (GSuite, Hangouts, etc). Running directly on the Projected Capacitive touch screen (PCAP) display, the C-Line series gives multiple participants the ability to simultaneously work on the same document via their own connected computer. The C-Line’s multiple touchpoints encourage teams to physically work together directly on the display, controlled and managed with either your hand, passive PEN (supplied in the box as standard) or via traditional keyboard and mouse.
As already mentioned, the AV News Webinar on “Choosing the right collaborative solution for your client,” addressed sustainability. The benefits to the environment of reduced business travel in terms of efficiency and reduced carbon footprint have long been understood, but usually applied to the end-user benefits of using the solution. The next stage involves looking at reduced emissions arising from the design, manufacture, transportation and eventual disposal of hardware.
Leading the field here is CTouch. They comment: “Touchscreen collaboration is not about IF anymore, it’s about WHEN. We can’t deny the transformation in collaboration. Work is changing and so are our needs” CTouch won the Editor’s Choice Award at the AV News Award Presentation, explaining “We’re on a mission to minimise the CO2 footprint and the BRIX family is part of our sustainability mission. The BRIX family designed to develop as your organisation grows. Without replacing your entire touchscreen. Just PICK IT, BRIX IT, MIX IT.”
CTouch introduced two new touchscreens. The CTOUCH Riva is an all-in-one touchscreen platform, specifically designed for education and small businesses. This touchscreen can be used as a standalone touchscreen, or simply be upgraded by adding an Essentials, Pro, Teams or Zoom BRIX module. The CTOUCH Riva will be commercially launched in Q2, 2020.
The CTOUCH Canvas is specifically designed for small and medium businesses, and higher education with a business grade security level. This touchscreen can be used in environments which require the highest security standards. CTouch argues that user can: “Easily upgrade with our BRIX modules such as Essentials, Pro, Teams, Zoom or even Android. Combining these new touchscreens with the new BRIX modules ensures longer product lifecycles and environmental support. “We go all the way! We do this with our BRIX family and Circularity Passport. With our plan of attack, we’re more than ready to put the logic in ecological.”
With many collaborative solutions having their origins in education touchscreens. delivering, recording and streaming engaging presentations and video content in education environments. Sony is targeting both the education and workplace markets, taking advantage of the common ground between the applications.
At ISE Sony showed the MAS-A100 – a new IP-based ceiling beamforming microphone enabling flexible and creative “hands-free” lectures and presentations. It offers advanced clear audio for speech reinforcement and recording with a unique combination of beamforming technology and its unique Intelligent Feedback Reducer function. The microphone can also be easily integrated into existing AV setups with the Dante digital audio-over-IP networking standard.
A further introduction by Sony was the Edge Analytics Appliance (REA-C1000) which enables users to create impactful video content with minimal resources. The Artificial Intelligence-powered solution features automatic handwriting extraction from black and white boards, a Chroma key-less CG Overlay feature to extract the presenter and overlay them onto any background without the need for a dedicated backscreen or specialist training. The PTZ Auto Tracking also keeps presenters in frame throughout their presentation by accurately and smoothly tracking a presenter.
UbiCast is an easy-to-use automated solution that allows corporate and education organisations to create and share dynamic, searchable, feature-rich video content. UbiCast will also showcase a new generation of video recorders to support the latest SRG cameras. Sony’s audio Auto Gain Control and Noise Reduction plugins will be included in these video recorders and the video platform to deliver an enhanced audio experience to online viewers.
Finally, Sony has joined the trend in favour of environmental monoring and control of conditions of the meeting room. Two new smart sensors – a desk sensor to measure occupancy and a meeting room sensor to measure both occupancy and CO2 levels.
Next level technologies
Perhaps it was something to do with being ISE’s last outing in Amsterdam but the focus on social issues like the environment, how we work and how we educate our children diverted attention from the usual long view look at future technologies. Yes, AI and XR were present on the show floor: for example. Lilin demonstrated its security system with AI engine that offers range of functions including people and object detection. Alternative realities were represented at the XR Summit 2020, were not particularly significant on the show floor.
The potential of these developing technologies is apparent and are likely to be more fully realised in Barcelona. For us, ISE 2020 was more about the increasing maturity of current technologies. In the collaboration arena. The Clevertouch touchscreen including Impact Plus and UX Pro are two of the most complete entriants in the market. Meeting room audio achieved new levels of sophistication. The HDL200 system is the newest addition to Nureva’s audio conferencing product line for use in smaller rooms. Shure’s major announcement was IntelliMix Room – the first audio processing software for Windows 10 PCs that is fully optimised for use with Shure networked system microphones.
IntelliMix Room is a software-based DSP that requires minimal customer set-up or additional special hardware, which reduces the costs and footprint required to deploy premium AV conferencing. It can be deployed to in-room Windows 10 PCs and meeting control devices that are already in-place to run popular software-based AV conferencing services, bringing premium audio to video conference calls.
This new software-based approach also allows systems integrators to install more rooms, more easily, more consistently and more cost-effectively than traditional hardware-based DSP solutions. Providing up to 16 channels of audio processing, IntelliMix Room deploys the same algorithms as Shure’s award-winning P300 IntelliMix Audio Conferencing Processor but is installed on the same in-room PC
At ISE 2020 it was clear that the devil really is now in the detail and diverting the industry focus to improvements in quality, ease-of-use and reliability will provide platform for the next wave of innovation, supporting growing demand and repeat business. Combining this with ideas which extend the product lifecycle and support meaningful recycling should result in an industry that is both innovative and sustainable