InfoComm 2018 welcomed new voices into the proAV conversation. In a special two-part report, we explore AVIXA’s strategies for expanding the AV orbit.
By Margot Douaihy
Every AV component holds little bit of magic. Who could look at an 8K image and not be impressed? It’s what AV can do, however, and the memorable moments AV creates that transcend. Take, for example, Brilliant!, the projection mapping installation at the Neon Museum. This immersive audiovisual experience brings “old Vegas” back to life, and in the process, invites visitors on a thrilling, emotional journey through history. The brains behind Brilliant! is the renowned artist Craig Winslow. Traditional AV stakeholders should keep ears attuned to creatives like Winslow and other “new” voices opening doors for integrated AV experiences. So how is AVIXA reaching AV newcomers?
An Evolving Industry Needs an Evolving Brain Trust
InfoComm’s restructuring as AVIXA, the Audiovisual Integrated Experience Association, in 2017 illustrated that a member organization must evolve just like the industry it serves. Gary Hall, CTS, CTS-D, CTS-I, former president of AVIXA’s Board of Directors, and Federal Strategy, Planning and Operations at Cisco Systems, explained: “The AVIXA Board of Directors has set out an ambitious plan to grow the association, increase awareness of AV experiences, and reinvent our brand in order to propel this industry into the future.”
Increasing awareness is a broad goal that encompasses various elements, from hosting dedicated AV events at hospitality and retail expos to the TIDE Conference. TIDE [Technology. Innovation. Design. Experience.] is a one-day conference that began in 2016 and precedes ISE and InfoComm in their host cities. At the recent TIDE Las Vegas, in June, innovators from design, architecture, technology, live events, and art converged to discuss human-centered design and the creative forces informing AV business.
TIDE is an idea hive buzzing with inspiration. For Rachel Archibald, program director of TIDE, the cross-pollination of talents is what makes the event essential for AV stakeholders. She sees the clear value in bringing AV integrators and designers together with thought leaders from diverse fields. “This expands the reach of InfoComm, the show, and AVIXA, the organization,” she said. From design thinking professors to UX researchers from Facebook, TIDE speakers and attendees shared best practices. The result? Surprising insights and a new framework with which to explore InfoComm products.
New Visitors Spark New Conversations
There is another benefit to co-locating TIDE with InfoComm and ISE. Speakers and attendees from TIDE often walk the exhibit halls and demo new products. Many TIDE attendees are first-time visitors to InfoComm. Jake Levin, the Chief Operating Officer of Shared_Studios, is one of these relative newcomers. He was a TIDE speaker this year and his first InfoComm was the 2017 Orlando show.
His organization, Shared_Studios, co-founded in 2014 by Amar C. Bakshi and Michelle Moghtader, has built a network of audiovisual spaces—live, full-body, audiovisual environments—run by curators. Shared_Studios is as much a living breathing idea as it is a tangible project. It sits at the intersection of sociology, art, humanism, and technology.
“Each of these communities form a network of trusted spaces,” Jake Levin said, “where anyone in the world can enter one and interact, live, with someone in another space around the world.” It’s as if you were sharing the same physical space with one another. The intimacy—feeling like you’re standing next to someone else half way around the globe—adds to the emotional power of the Shared_Studios, and AV technologies enhance clarity and believability.
Levin was excited by the quality of the AV technologies he observed on the InfoComm show floor. He was also inspired by the potential for meaningful connections that AV technologies enable.
“Larger companies and smaller companies,” Levin said, “are interested in the unique ways that their technology can be applied in real time, especially if it comes in a context of increased human connection.”
Currently, Shared_Studios’ main technology partners are NEC for projectors, Biamp for microphones (the Devio system), Community Professional for speakers, and Zoom for the video conferencing platform. Levin said that Shared_Studios is actively seeking to nurture partnerships with camera and lighting solutions providers.
While the numbers of “new” visitors to InfoComm like Jake Levin may be relatively small, they are key influencers within their organizations.
In another example of a first-time visitor to InfoComm, Archibald explained how a TIDE keynote speaker, Rana June, a creative technologist, data scientist, and musician, visited several audio demo rooms and “really enjoyed being there.”
“It is powerful for attendees to see thought leaders that they might see in another context also come to show floor,” Archibald observed.
Margot Douaihy is a storyteller, writer, and editor-at-large of AV Technology magazine. In Part 2 of this report, we dig into the numbers, examine the new titles in attendance at InfoComm, and explore the business realities of welcoming new talent and new ideas in AV.
BY THE NUMBERS
InfoCommm 2018 Attendance: 42,811 attendees
Service provider breakdown at InfoComm 2018 (Courtesy of AVIXA)
System Integrator/Dealer/Contractor 35.1%
Independent/Mfgr Rep 3.9%
Design Consultant 7.6%
Rental/Staging Firm 12.4%
Video/Film Producer 2.7%
Architect/Specifying Engineer 2.3%
Business Consultant/Services 4.7%
Advertising/Creative Agency 5.4%
Content Creation/Management 1.5%
Type of technology user at InfoComm 2018 (Courtesy of AVIXA)
Electronic Cinema/Broadcast/Cable 4.9%
Retail & Sales/Restaurant 2.5%
Meetings & Events Production 8.8%
Transportation/Utilities/Public Works 1.3%
Installation/Managed Services 11.8%
IT/Technology Management 14.0%
Software Development/Manufacturing/Programming 4.7%