Top Tech Trends for InfoComm 2012

It’s been a hectic month with travel, training and product testing. But I’ve managed to come up for air for a few days, just in time for a little preview of InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas. Here are some trends you should keep your eyes on as we all fly/drive out to Hades – er, make that Las Vegas – for our annual festival of “techniness.”

The #1 item on my list: Substituting large LCD monitors (and TVs) for projector installations. I’m talking about what we fondly call “hang and bangs.” Fact is, ceiling-mounted projectors in conference and meeting rooms that use screens with widths in the 70- to 90-inch range are ceding ground to these new behemoth LCD displays.

In my travels around the country, I’m hearing more and more from dealers and integrators who are installing 70- and 80-inch LCD monitors (and TVs!) manufactured by, well, you know who they are. And said LCD manufacturer is now offering an extended, multi-year warranty on these products, including the TVs. The latter products are popular because of their low price and the fact that they have a built-in four-port HDMI switcher.

This is one of those slow-to-get-started-but-quickly-accelerating trends, and it’s being driven largely (as far as I can tell) by the financial services industry in New York City (and their field offices). What does this mean for the projector marketplace down the road?

Well, those folks have a few tricks up their sleeves. #2 on my InfoComm watch list is lampless projectors. We’ve seen a few of these in the past, but aside from NEC’s 2,000-lumens prototype from 2010, none have been bright enough for most installations, except maybe for Casio’s LED/laser hybrids, which are currently pushing 5,000 lumens and expanding into widescreen formats.

BenQ has already announced that it will show laser projectors in Vegas. Will there be others? You betcha, and I’m not talking about large-venue chassis designs. No, we’ll see more desktop and portable offerings with “no lamp change, no fuss, no muss” to counter the lure of LCD TV mania. Of course, you still need a projection screen and control over room lighting, but it’s a start.

Trend #3 is voice and gesture control. You’ve probably heard of (or used) the Xbox Kinect gesture control system, developed by PrimeSense Technologies of Israel. Guess what? You can buy a TV from Samsung now (ES-series) that will recognize your face and your voice, and allow you to control everything with speech and hand gestures. Why not the same level of functionality for our market?

It gets better. A company known as Leap Motion has just announced a gesture recognition control system that can discern movements down to .01 millimeters (bet you can’t even stand that still) and will sell for all of $70. Unbelievable. And how long before your clients will ask you to integrate it into their AV systems? Creston? AMX? Any of you guys paying attention?

And tech trend #4 will be wireless display connectivity, and I’m not just saying that because I’m teaching a class on that very same topic at InfoComm. (Last time I checked, there were over 80 registrants, so you’d better move quickly before it sells out!) Wireless HDMI is already available to the consumer, and one company (Belkin) has already unveiled a four-input, one-output wireless HDMI switcher known as ScreenCast.

There are many ways to make display and audio connections wireless. There are also “solutions” for wireless keyboard, video, and mouse, not to mention printers and other goodies. And most of these solutions do not use 802.11 wireless protocols. Check out the interface manufacturers at the show to see what they’re working on. Chances are, you will be dazzled.

So there you go: four trends to watch for at InfoComm 2012. Oh, I almost forgot: Check out the meter in your taxi after you make the relatively short trip from McCarren Airport to the LV Hotel, and you’ll get a real wake-up call for trend #5.Yikes!

What technologies will you be monitoring at InfoComm 2012?

About Pete Putman

Pete Putman is the president of ROAM Consulting LLC, which provides training, marketing communications, and product testing/development services to manufacturers, dealers, and end-users of displays, display interfaces, and related products. He edits and publishes HDTVexpert.com and is a columnist for Sound & Communications. Pete is a Senior Academy Instructor for InfoComm International and was named Educator of the Year for 2008.

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