Recent show updates

I’ve managed to get to a couple of decent trade shows of late, managing both ISE and the BETT shows.  There is far too much there to write up, but a couple of themes were evident this year.

Both shows have started to raise the profile of IT / AV integration, as systems become more complex they become more akin to complex IT solutions.  As such they need networking and hardening to protect them from the normal dangers which the IT world is exposed to.  As WiFi becomes ever more used for some of the collaborative solutions, issues over bandwidth management become a problem often brushed under the carpet by some suppliers.  Some solutions at least look to make use of multicasting over unicasting, which to an extent solves the bandwidth issue but adds some complexity.  There is only so many WiFi channels available, so planning usage is ever more important to maintain system reliability where there could be a number of installations in a single location.

The ISE show this year was huge, filling the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam.  It was nice to see HDbaseT getting a mention by more of the core suppliers, a number of new or enhanced matrix switching platforms launched there this year.  For installations this technology can be a game changer, especially if screen manufacturers support it’s enhanced power carrying ability (but be warned, don’t use CCA cable to feed them).  Imagine a 42″ display screen fed by nothing but a single CAT6 cable, providing all the power, video, audio, and control data to the screen.  Some projectors now accept the standard, to a degree, reducing complexity within installations.

At BETT there is a growing trend toward highly collaborative learning with technologies coming of age to assist with the process.  Interactive screens are, an admittedly currently expensive, option to replace the short / ultra short throw projector & whiteboard.  However, when you take cost of ownership (bulbs, power, calibration issues etc.) and usability into the account they make a strong case.  The technology enables students to have a very immersive environment to learn in, for some they will be too expensive, but play with one for while and the benefits become obvious.  Solutions to help with the handling of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), or to take the hardware out, BYOB (Bring Your Own Browser) were touted my a number of companies.

There was some interesting methodologies on show by Professor Stephen Heppell (whom I used to work with many years ago when he ran the Ultralab at what is now Anglia Ruskin University), culminating in an aerial drone being flown by a Raspberry Pi controlled by some bananas (I kid you not, crazy impressive stuff).  The methods advocated may not fit the normal teaching methodology, but there is no denying that they do provide results.  There was a real buzz of excitement by all those involved.

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