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InfoComm 08: Where the Pros Are

For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof?a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years.

CERTIFICATION AND STAND STANDARDS

Aside from incorporating NSCA Expo, this year's InfoComm represents a landmark of a different kind. It's the first trade sho show since the InfoComm Certified Technology Speci Specialist was recognized by the International Organiza Organization for Standardization (ISO) and American NationalNatio Standards Institute (ANSI) as an international standard.

Earning ISO/ANSI accr accreditation required considerable work. Training ha had to change, testing had to change. By Lemke's estim estimates, each question on the CST test costs $1,000 to create, after you factor in the various experts who design and analyze the questions for suitability (se (see “5-Minute Interview,” page 46, for more on CTS test changes). Therefore the process must be carefully controlled.

This year's InfoComm marks a couple of firsts for the ISO/ANSI-accredited program. Lemke says the association will introduce a study group to educate prospective candidates on the nuances of the new tests. And for those interested in taking the CTS exam at InfoComm, the venue will be a little different. To meet ISO/ANSI requirements, the exam must take place at a certified, off-site facility. Fortunately, Las Vegas offers such a site, operated Prometric, formerly owned by the Thomson Corp. and now a subsidiary of Educational Testing Service. Lemke expects about 100 candidates to take the exam at InfoComm, and says they'll be whisked to the facility in limousines.

EVENTS

One of the things InfoComm and NSCA are known for is real-world experience. The exhibits aren't just exhibits; several are immersive, hands-on destinations where pros can do more than hear about the latest products. There's something for everyone. Find what you're looking for here and on our must-see show map below.

1. Immersive Audio Experience

Where: Central Hall 5, Booth C5656

Fred Ampel, an AV consultant with Technology Visions and organizer of the Immersive Audio Experience calls this year's “version 2.0” an enhanced, expanded version of the experience that debuted in 2007. AV pros enter a pair of retail environments, one an ice bar and the other a “tragically hip clothing store,” as Ampel describes it. Each is filled with high-definition video programming and six-channel music to demonstrate how the integrated AV “immerses the patrons of the store in an environment that is wholly manipulated to keep them interested and entertained.”

2. AV Rack Systems Integration Challenge

Where: Central Hall 2, Booth C1755

How do you stack up against other AV pros? What can you learn from their best practices? Become a fly on the wall of other integrators' jobsites by checking out the latest edition of the Integration Challenge. Also in its second year, the challenge pits teams of three (engineer, installer, programmer) against each other as they create line drawings, install components, and program a fully functional AV rack system. Teams will have done design and programming two weeks prior to InfoComm, but they'll have 12 hours on the show floor, starting Wednesday, June 18, for final installation and testing, before a panel of CTS-Is and CTS-Ds pick a winner.

3. Digital Signage Application Showcase

Where: North Hall 3, Booth N7131

If you experienced Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas in February, word is you won't be disappointed in InfoComm's showcase. Designed to give integrators a firsthand look at digital signage applications in action, this showcase will reportedly feature about the same number of companies as the February trade show. There will be functional applications, plus a separate area where you can experience more futuristic applications, such as interactive digital signage (for more on navigating digital signage technology at InfoComm, see Data Links, page 114).

4. Audio Demo Rooms

Where: North Hall Meeting Rooms N101–N114

No one needs to tell you that you can't really experience the latest audio technology on a noisy show floor. So when you leave the North Hall, venture to the dedicated Audio Demo and Sound Rooms. More than 20 manufacturers will be set up to demonstrate their systems in more ideal environments, including Community Professional Loudspeakers, Crown, Danley Sound Labs, Electro-Voice, Harman Pro Group, JBL, Martin Audio, Tannoy, and many others.

5. Large Venue Display Gallery

Where: North Hall 4

Considered a replacement for InfoComm's once-popular Projection Shoot-Out, the large-venue, high-definition display showcase brings out the big boys in digital cinema-quality projection, including Barco, Christie Digital, Digital Projection, Sanyo, and Sony. Led by Extron vice president of engineering Steve Somers, the gallery comprises various screening rooms on the show floor, with numerous HD sources feeding multiple projectors from a central control room.

Need more to do? Check the InfoComm program for details on floor attractions like Rigging and Staging Demos (Central Hall 4, Booth C4709), the System Programming and GUI Design Gallery (Main Lobby between North and Central Halls), and the Technologies for Worship Pavilion (Central Hall 5, Booth C5628).

In addition, InfoComm will host a variety of AV Technology Tours Wednesday through Friday. Check your program for any updates, but tours (which cost $150 for members) include the Cirque du Soleil “O” Show (June 18 at 10:30 a.m.), UNLV and its cool Casino Surveillance Lab (June 18 at 1:30 p.m.), Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian (June 19 at 1:30 p.m.), and House of Blues (June 20 at 10:30 a.m.).

NEW PRODUCTS

InfoComm is the place where AV manufacturers roll out new products. Some companies introduce as many as 50 new SKUs at the show. Many of these product debuts are closely guarded secrets, so even the media can't get first-word on all of them. But we get our share. In addition to the following products, check out the New Products | InfoComm 08 section, starting on page 80, for new releases from, among many others, BenQ, Crestron, Extron, InFocus, Kramer, Lowell, Meyer Sound, NEC, Neutrik, Sharp, Tannoy, and Yamaha.

And if you want a more visionary look at technology, stop by the Manufacturer's Forum at 4 p.m. Tuesday before exhibits open. Executives from Christie Digital, Crestron, Harman Pro Group, Polycom, and Scala will gather at the Las Vegas Hilton to talk about the future of AV and networking.

When the show floor opens Wednesday, among the thousands of products you'll see, Barco (booth C2830) plans to show off its new NX-6 LED tile, offering a 4200:1 contrast ratio and a calibrated output of 2000 nits, according to the company. Barco also plans to roll out its new DCS-200 seamless switcher designed for small and midsize venues. The product fleshes out the capabilities of Barco's DCS-100 by adding an independent preview output while enabling transitions between nine multiformat inputs.



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