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InfoComm 10 Las Vegas: New and Improved

InfoComm 2010 is almost here. PRO AV previews 10 things you can do, see, or learn this year that you couldn't last year. Commercial 3D anyone?

Here we go again. with summer approaching, the only thing to do for an AV professional worth his or her CTS standing (or anyone else in and around the AV industry) is to head to the desert. Las Vegas, to be more specific; site of this month’sInfoComm 2010 trade show. So far this year, AV shows have seen a healthy jump in attendance, and InfoComm International expects a 10 percent bump from last year, when a rough economy yanked many business travelers off the road. Expect to comb through nearly 900 exhibitors and over 475,000 square feet of exhibit space, special events, and demo rooms, in what planners expect to be one of biggest InfoComm shows ever.

“No matter how much the show grows, the central theme of InfoComm is that it’s a solutions show,” says Jason McGraw, CTS, CAE, senior vice president of expositions for InfoComm International. “It’s the largest pro audio, digital signage, and videoconferencing show in North America. But our attendees also look to us for learning opportunities and technology showcases in these and other technologies.”

About 70 percent of show attendees are commercial AV service providers, according to InfoComm, but the share of technology managers is growing. As a result, this year’s show boasts a special focus on attracting technology managers in the education and corporate markets. There will also be a spotlight on telepresence, live events, and 3D technology, reflecting trends in the AV industry, as well as feedback from InfoComm members.

But that’s not the only fine-tuning InfoComm has done. When you work with technology, you adapt or you perish. So we asked organizers what specificallly was new or different for 2010—education, events, or attractions that you’d be missing if you’d mistakenly thought you could get away with attending InfoComm every other year. Here are some of our favorite upgrades:

1. What’s Old is New Again

This year’s show kicks off with a keynote speech from Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group. While other shows have opened with a keynote, this is actually a format change from recent years. Gone is the Manufacturer’s Forum that used to start the show. McGraw says that after six years of the forum, it was time for something different. Now that Cisco has completed its purchase of videoconferencing company Tandberg, it will be interesting to hear how De Beer assuages an industry’s fear that one of the biggest IT companies around just stepped into its backyard. But more interesting will be to learn how AV pros can work with Cisco on cutting-edge projects.

Also new this year is a stronger focus on an old specialty: live events. Specifically, the Rigging and Staging Demo Stage is back after a one-year hiatus, sponsored in part by the Entertainment Services & Technology Association’s Foundation. In addition, the Entertainment Technician Certification Program will offer exams for the first time at InfoComm 2010 in rigging for arenas and entertainment electricians.

When and where? The keynote is June 8 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Rigging and Staging Demo Stage is in the Central Hall in the Lighting and Staging Pavilion.

2. Sustainable Products Showcase

Green AV remains a hot topic in the industry, with more manufacturers offering products that are either more efficient or made from sustainable resources. This year’s new Sustainable Products Showcase gathers all these products in one place. “It’s not a contest,” says McGraw. “It’s up to the exhibitor to say what’s green about their product.”

The showcase will include static displays with signage explaining why a product is sustainable. Signage will also herald the winners of the Green AV Award, given to AV professionals who have taken a leadership role in promoting and adopting green standards (see “And the Awards Go To...”).

For anyone interested in delving deeper into green AV, InfoComm Academy is offering the Audiovisual Systems Energy Management Performance Standard workshop on June 10 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Attendees can learn more about this new standard and how it applies to AV systems design and installation. (For more about InfoComm’s AV power management standard, see proavmagazine.com/greenstandard).

When and where? The Sustainable Products Showcase is planned for the North Hall, Booth N125.

3. AV Technology Tours

InfoComm’s technology tours are offered at every show, but some of the venues change every year. This year’s tours will give a behind-the-scenes look at some of Las Vegas’ most popular destinations. Choose among the Recording Studios at the Palms, Cirque Du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE,” “Ka,” or “O” shows, and MGM Mirage’s LEED-certified CityCenter (see page 19).

Tour participants can find out how the Palms has integrated the ability to record from any room of the hotel, see Cirque du Soleil’s biggest lighting rig to date, and walk through a 300,000-square-foot city within a city. If interested, sign up for a tour as soon as possible; they’re popular and sell out quickly. Make a beeline for the InfoComm booth in the main lobby between the North and Central Halls. All but the CityCenter tour are good for one renewal unit (RU).

When and where? Tours run during show days, June 9 to 11, and last approximately two hours. The last tour, Cirque Du Soleil’s “O,” starts Friday at 2 p.m.

4. The Future of Higher Education

Do you do a considerable amount of work with universities and colleges? AV pros, higher education CIOs, and technology managers can take advantage of the new EdTech Summit put on by InfoComm. It’s a full day of workshops, panel discussions, and networking focused on AV/IT convergence and other industry trends, including presentations by experts Mark Taylor, Ph.D., from Columbia University, and Donald Norris, Ph.D., of Strategic Initiatives. Topics include Taylor’s “Rethinking the University as We Know It” and Norris’ “Reimagining Higher Education.”

Mark Valenti, CTS, former president of InfoComm and CEO of The Sextant Group, will present on future trends in education as technology brings virtual and real-world classrooms together.

When and where? The summit is June 9 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

5. Digital Signage 2010 Conference

Digital signage has busted out at the seams. No longer contained to the technology pavilion it’s called home for the past five years, digital signage at InfoComm 2010 has grown into its own conference. You’ll still find the latest signage technology in the Digital Signage Pavilion (North Hall), but InfoComm’s also presenting a pair of half-day programs for systems integrators and technology managers who are just getting started in this boom market.

When and where? Sessions on June 9 run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., focusing on fundamentals. Sessions on June 10 run from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., focusing on business planning for business owners only. Both half-day sessions are worth four RUs.

6. 3D Through Commercial AV Glasses

Interest in 3D technology has grown exponentially this year, but much of the discussion focuses on consumer applications. That said, the opportunities for 3D integration in commercial applications are equally compelling. For 2010, InfoComm has added a special educational program called 3D Comm, produced by Insight Media, which will give attendees the pro AV perspective on 3D technology. These 60- to 90-minute sessions run every day of the exhibition. Topics include 3D content, evaluating 3D displays, and single-lens 3D projection, to name a few.

In addition, several 3D technology theaters on the show floor will showcase the latest hardware and software technologies for creating an immersive experience. For instance, Barco and Christie will both have 3D theaters in the North Hall. And if you’re still hankering for more 3D, the new 3D Technology Pavilion, also in the North Hall, will feature vertical market applications using the latest display and projection technology.

When and where? The first 3D Comm session, “3D Displays 101,” starts June 9 at 8 a.m. Barco’s 3D theater is at Booth N3262; Christie’s is at N3238.

7. Focusing on Building Automation

Realcomm is a three-day conference for executives in commercial and corporate real estate. This is the first year it will be co-located with InfoComm, but the relationship has been years in the making. “Reaching out to the commercial real estate market is a new direction, but one that makes sense. AV in the built environment is a growing area,” explains McGraw. “This is a chance to share education between both industries.”

Although the conference may be new to the AV industry, Realcomm is the largest conference focused on technology, automated business solutions, energy efficiency, and intelligent buildings for the commercial and corporate real estate market. Organizers expect 75 exhibitors and more than 1,200 attendees.

InfoComm attendees who are interested in learning more about the connection between AV technology and commercial buildings (and who want to earn 1.5 CTS RUs) should check out the InfoComm 100 Forum, which takes place the last day of the show. June 11, and will feature futurist, author, and communications expert Rex Miller. His recent book, “The Commercial Real Estate Revolution,” covers nine industry trends and shares the results of three years of research.

When and where? Realcomm will run from June 8 to 10 at the Las Vegas Hilton. For details, check out realcomm.com. The InfoComm 100 Forum will meet on June 11 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Convention Center.

8. New Classes and Exhibitors

For kicks, challenge yourself to a Where’s Waldo-style search for some of the 60 new InfoComm Academy classes and more than 100 new exhibitors. With the sheer volume of first-time education and companies, it should be easier than finding that bespectacled, red-and-white-striped fellow. InfoComm Academy is known for its high-quality educational content and this year is no different. Overall, attendees have access to more than 100 classes, many with updated content and new presenters.

Topics generally reflect the interest of the membership and range from fiber-optics training and green AV to comprehensive performance standards, AV design principles, and project management. Need a head start on the new stuff? Try “Understanding and Delivering Projector-Based Stereoscopic 3D” (June 10, 8 a.m.) or “What Does the $90B Display Industry Know About Digital Signage?” (June 11, 10:30 a.m.).

On the show floor, InfoComm expects about 150 new exhibitors by the time they cut the ribbon, many in the fields of 3D, LED, and laser projection. Expect significant buzz around Prysm (booth C5038), which will be making a big push for its laser phosphor displays as an alternative to plasma and LCD in large-format display applications.

When and where? All week. Everywhere.

9. NSCA in the House

The National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) will again have a presence at InfoComm. NSCA headquarters will be booth C5859, the NSCA Zone, where the group will be offering its exclusive industry research and information about SystemsPlus Insurance Solutions, an insurance program developed by NSCA to help save AV companies on insurance premiums.

NSCA is planning its own education sessions for InfoComm 2010, often identifying emerging opportunities for growing an AV integrator’s business. This year, NSCA is addressing changes in the National Fire and Alarm Signaling Code (NFPA 72) with a pair of training courses and a key panel discussion. The code changes impact the intelligibility of mass notification and emergency communications systems in a variety of nonresidential facilities, which plays perfectly into the hands of audio experts and sound system designers (for more information, see proavmagazine.com/lifesafety).

“Systems contractors have an opportunity to take the lead on intelligibility as the security and audio worlds converge,” says Chuck Wilson, NSCA executive director. “The recent revisions to NFPA 72 will open up a profitable new market and NSCA wants to help integrators get involved.”

When and where? NSCA will host classes and event throughout the week. Visit the NSCA Zone to learn more.

“NFPA 72 Real-World Application for 2010 and Beyond: Measurement and Verification System Speech Intelligibility will take place Wednesday, June 9. NSCA officials say the course will help understand how systems integrators will have to design and install systems according to the new provisions through STIP requirements for intelligibility, measurement procedures, and documentation requirements.

“NFPA 72 Changes for 2010: Profiting from Change will be held Thursday, June 10, and cover how the code changes affect a business, ranging from personnel qualifications and technical fundamental knowledge, to inspection and testing of mass notification systems.

Finally the “Mass Notification and Emergency Communications Summit is scheduled for Thursday, June 10. Industry trade associations, code-making officials, leading manufacturers, consultants, and industry experts will hold a roundtable discussion to explore how the 2010 code changes and new standards for fire and life safety systems will affect the industry. All sessions will be held in the Las Vegas Convention Center. To register or find out more, visit nscaatinfocomm.org. For more on Mass Notification and Emergency Communications, visit NSCA’s new website, www.mnec.org.

10. Social Media Integration

Social media isn’t just for kids anymore. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have changed the way businesses communicate and share information. Attendees at InfoComm will see a greater emphasis on social media, including tweet-ups, social media-driven contests to win Flip video cameras, and a real-time Twitter feed on display in the lobby. InfoComm is also offering Blogger Spot, where any InfoComm member can access free Wi-Fi and computers for blogging.

In an effort to foster better connections (and a paperless experience), InfoComm has partnered with a2z to use the company’s ChirpE mobile show data service that allows attendees to use their mobile phones to access information, a floor plan, and personalized itineraries through a Web portal. InfoComm show management can also send out news via the ChirpE platform, which has seamless integration with Twitter.

When and where? All week in cyberspace, but if you’re specifically looking for Blogger Spot, it’s at InfoComm’s booth between the North and Central Halls.

 


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