CIE presents part 2 of our ISE 2017 show report (part 1 covered screens, projectors and all things AV) , where conferencing, education and digital signage reined supreme.

Conferencing

As usual, there was no missing the Crestron booth at ISE, and not one square inch of the colossal booth was wasted, each and every inch being crammed with the latest technology from the control manufacturer. Aside from these residential products, the stand was pretty much dedicated to all things commercial.

A key launch from the manufacturer was its flexible table-top meeting room system, Crestron Mercury, which combines all the must-have conferencing and collaboration features employees need, along with the fast, secure cloud deployment and management required by IT managers.

Mercury enables users to instantly and securely present content wirelessly on the room display from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet using built-in Crestron AirMedia, as well as allowing users to phone calls from mobile devices or standard SIP phone systems using the built-in speaker and microphones.

Crestron Mercury

Workers can collaborate with colleagues via Crestron Mercury from a laptop or dedicated in-room PC using any soft phone, web conferencing or UC application, such as Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, GotoMeeting or Slack, while Mercury also integrates with Microsoft Exchange, allowing users to reserve a room using Mercury’s onscreen calendar.

“Crestron has been in the meeting room world for a while now,” Ted Colton, VP of UC Strategy at Crestron told CIE at ISE. “But is has been expensive. The huddle room concept has really grown in the last few years, and videoconfericing is big, but do people really use it? This is our first tabletop solution, and it will be available in April for less than $2,000 [around £1,600] and is an easy to use system that gives you all you need, plus, it’s a world-class conference phone. Integrators have come to the booth and said: ‘we’ve been looking for this!’ They say the price point is right.”

Crestron DM-NVX

Other big news from Crestron was the introduction of the DM NVX Series, the next generation of DigitalMedia, making it possible to transmit 4K60 4:4:4 HDR video over standard 1 Gigabit Ethernet, with, according to Crestron, no latency. DM NVX Series provides an infinitely scalable network AV solution, from a simple point-to-point setup, to thousands of endpoints, and requires only DM NVX Encoders/Decoders. Added to that, built in intelligent software ensures that everything is easy to configure, commission and control from the web.

Shure IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor

Moving over into larger meeting space requirements, Shure provides many solutions for the conferences and major meeting events. A major focus as ISE was placed on the IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor, offering IntelliMix DSP algorithms optimised for audio/video conferencing applications, featuring eight channels of acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction and automatic gain control to ensure high quality. The manufacturer says the P300 is easy to install and configure, providing Dante (10 in / 2 out), Analogue (2 block in / 2 block out), USB (1 in/out) and Mobile (3.5 mm) connectivity options for installation flexibility.

Integration with Shure Microflex Advance and Microflex Wireless microphones allows the P300 to deliver a full audio experience for conferencing sound.

Another focus for the company, this time in the microphone category was the ULXD8 Wireless Gooseneck Base Transmitter combined with ULX-D receivers, designed to deliver uncompromising digital audio clarity and solid RF performance in a form factor that fits easily into in business settings.

Aimed in particular at live business events when clarity is paramount, the set up offers long working range, large channel counts, a wide selection of antenna distribution components, a choice of AA or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, flexible Dante networking (ULX-D dual and quad channel receivers only) and secure AES-256 encryption.

Continuing with the meeting room space theme, AMX also revealed the AMX Acendo Core complete presentation solution for huddle spaces and small meeting environments. Thin enough to mount behind a display, Acendo Core features direct integration with Microsoft Exchange scheduling, one-touch Skype for Business integration, native document viewers and email document sharing.

“In enterprise office environments, time is a valuable resource, and outdated conference room equipment can cause unnecessary delays and frustration,” explains Paul Krizan, product manager, Networked AV Solutions, Harman Professional Solutions. “Acendo Core offers a complete integrated solution that enables teams to get to the heart of their meeting as quickly as possible and make optimal use of huddle spaces and smaller meeting rooms.”

Completing the Acendo line up are the AMX RoomBook scheduling touch panels. Shipping in March 2017, the version 1.1 firmware features numerous usability and setup enhancements designed to help users ensure installation success.

Acendo Book scheduling touch panels are standalone scheduling panels that integrate directly with popular room scheduling software such as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 and Google Calendar without additional system software or hardware requirements. The panels can be mounted on any flat surface, including drywall, gang-box, glass, or stone, inside or outside a conference room or huddle space.

AMX Acendo Vibe

Also new from AMX was the AMX Acendo Vibe, a new line of premium conferencing sound bars for collaboration in huddle spaces and smaller meeting environments. Boasting JBL speakers, far-field microphones, a wide-angle camera and a modern office design aesthetic, Acendo Vibe is an all-in-one solution that requires no programming or installation of additional equipment. Acendo Vibe comes in three colours and features softened materials and finishes.

USB and Bluetooth connectivity streamlines BYOD conference applications by allowing users to easily connect laptops, phones and tablets. Dedicated audio inputs and outputs allow users to integrate Acendo Vibe with other AV systems, such as assistive listening systems.

Also new and targeting huddle spaces, meeting rooms, executive boardrooms, classrooms and lecture theatres is the AMX Rapid Project Maker v3.0, a cloud-based configuration tool featuring a redesigned HTML 5 interface and a newly enhanced and touch panel UI.

Not forgetting the launch of the AMX N7142 Presentation Switcher, which the manufacturer says is the first all-in-one presentation switcher to incorporate low-latency Networked AV video distribution.

With the ability to distribute video in a scalable way, the N7142 Presentation Switcher has been designed to enable educators to enhance lecture presentations and reach more students in overflow classroom applications.

The N7142 Presentation Switcher features a comprehensive I/O designed to deliver audio and video in classroom and small conference room applications, and distributes UHD content from the latest 4K sources to most modern displays, with four 4K60 HDMI 2.0 and two VGA inputs that can be independently switched between two HDMI 2.0 outputs.

Each output has a mirrored HDMI port for connecting to an additional display, encoder card or other video distribution equipment. Two available Networked AV slots and an integrated Gigabit Ethernet switch make distributing classroom presentations to overflow seating as easy and immediate as a single LAN connection.

The AMX N7142 Presentation Switcher is available in two configurations: the NMX-PRS-N7142 and the NMX-PRS-N7142-23, which adds an AMX N2312 Encoder and an AMX N2322 Decoder to the base configuration.

Helping to boost the traffic on always-busy Vivitek booth was the manufacturer’s new NovoEnterprise and LauncherPlus, Vivitek’s wireless collaboration solution. Additionally, the manufacturer introduced NovoTouch, a new range of Collaborative Touch Panels for supporting collaboration in conference and training rooms.

The plug-and-play LauncherPlus ensures that meeting participants’ laptop computers wirelessly connect within seconds to the NovoEnterprise main unit. The LauncherPlus is a USB device that plugs directly into the laptop and thanks to its embedded WiFi, it streams laptop content to the big screen. The LauncherPlus is especially convenient for visiting guests, or when colleagues from other offices are on site. Furthermore, as it is driver-free, no trace or residue is left on laptops after they disconnect.

Aimed at SME and corporate environments, NovoEnterprise has been designed to provide guests with an ad-hoc wireless connection. Thanks to NovoEnterprise’s standalone operation and external antenna, it provides a robust wireless connection, and prevents guests from accessing the corporate network, thus ensuring that network security is maintained.

Another attraction was the new NovoDS4K, an UltraHD Digital Signage Solution designed to easily create digital signage layouts. Targeted towards a range of applications, including government and public sector organisations as well as retail, education and hospitality, the NovoDS-4K (which displays 4K at 60fps) can incorporate text, photos, audio, video and Web content in fully customisable configurations for a variety of settings.

Oblong’s main mission at ISE 2017 was to bring its flagship Mezzanine technology to more teams and more spaces across the globe this year, which it is already on track for, having just opened a new office in Germany – Oblong’s third office in Europe and 15th office globally.

As far as Mezzanine goes, available Q2 this year will be a dual screen immersive environment for teaming rooms with a simplified installation process and lighter hardware footprint. The easy in-room installation of the new Mezzanine appliance is designed to enable global firms to service a wider number of employees with the most engaging, immersive, and productive spaces.

Gestural interaction has always been a core property of Mezzanine, bringing human centred design to team collaboration. New in 2017 is the launch of a next generation tracking system for the spatial wand, Oblong’s proprietary remote device for controlling content from any location in a room. The new wand has a new look; the infrared sensor system for tracking the new wand mounts to the perimeter of the display screens and requires no room remediation or special ceiling configurations.

Ashton Bentley is a manufacturer that you may or may not have heard of, although you’ll have definitely seen their designs around. While Polycom may be one of the biggest names in video conferencing, Ashton Bentley is the company Polycom approached to design its Medialign product range. Ashton Bentley is actually a design house behind some of the most iconic designs in video conferencing, and the company does pretty much everything in-house – including the displays and the furniture.

At ISE 2017, Ashton Bentley demonstrated its video conferencing knowledge with a brand new OS that has been custom designed by the firm. Dubbed Wave OS, it’s based on the open Android OS, and is designed to make using a meeting room as simple as possible.

The UI design is particularly notable about Wave OS; with it mimicking the look of a consumer operating system, like iOS or Windows. That wasn’t accidental either, Wave OS was designed with simplicity in mind – and that’s exactly what has been achieved by the user-friendly design.

While Ashton Bentley works closely with Polycom, the company is keen to stress its commitment to an open platform. That’s why those purchasing an Ashton Bentley video conferencing solution won’t be locked into the Polycom ecosystem, and are free to bring Cisco’s Spark, Pipex, WebEx, GoToMeeting, StarLeaf, Zoom, Skype for Business, Google Hangouts and Polycom to its solution.

The Wave OS isn’t even locked to those platforms either, as the Android platform means IT administrators can load just about any app to the system for use in a meeting room. That includes apps like Netflix and YouTube, which could be ideal in a more relaxed work environment.

In addition to its user-friendly design, the Wave OS is also rather powerful in the back-end. IT administrators will be able to completely customise how a room and video conferencing solution is used – including locking out apps that should be inaccessible to certain users or at certain times of the day.

 

Digital Signage and Touchscreens

 

Sharp is looking to come back on the scene is a big way. After admittedly being in survival mode for a time, the brand is back with new backers in the shape of Foxconn who invested in the company last year providing the impetus for some new launches and a renewed confidence to put the name back where it belongs.

Sid Stanley, GM Europe for the commercial arm, was clearly delighted with the new opportunities being presented via the investment: “We are moving back into the mainstream of the sector and we want to get back to being a top three player in the B2B AV market. We are introducing six new lines at the show including a 70in video wall, a new luxury high-end product with a stunning image and really small bezel for the corporate and retail markets. We are also trying to build our own space in the digital signage market, which has become a little commoditised in places, so we want to get away from that. The Sharp name was always about invention and we are getting back to that in a big way now.”

Sharp’s Open Architecture Platform for digital signage has been created to offer easy ways to download, store and play content directly from a Sharp display. The Platform is a combination of new hardware and software from Sharp and partnerships with third-party signage software providers.

Sid explained: “The launch of this new Sharp System-On-Chip (SoC) platform and our significant investment in refreshing our digital signage range are clear indications that we now aiming to increase our attractiveness to our channel and the market.

“We now have full range coverage and the right combination of great quality hardware, software, solutions and partners to challenge the status quo and show visitors to our stand at ISE that we are ready to do business.”

Sharp offers its own free signage software, Sharp Digital Signage Software as default on its new displays and has also opened its SoC platform for Android to software vendors. The approach combines Sharp’s hardware, an SoC environment for Android and a choice of proprietary or third-party software players for retail or corporate projects. Software companies already on-board include CityMeo, Grassfish, Videro and easyscreen.

The hardware offers three display ranges with a range of connectivity options including embedded SoC, capable of supporting 4K content, plus Sharp’s Digital Signage Software built-in or an integrated USB Media Player with Sharp Content Distributor software, or a Mini OPS (Open Pluggable Specification) expansion slot to expand the range of user applications.

Three types of Mini OPS modules (PC, Wireless, and HDBaseT) give users more display and interactivity options. Sharp says the compact Mini OPS modules have been created to be easy to install, use and maintain, and the high-speed connectors support the transmission of 4K.

The PN-R range of displays for 24/7 use includes the Mini OPS extension slot and the PN-Y range of displays features the embedded USB media player. The PN-Q is an entirely new range of large, but affordable displays suited for meeting rooms or retail signage, sized go from 60in to 90in.

The PN-Y and PN-R displays feature all standard signal inputs and will be available in various brightness categories and sizes, ranging from 32in to 70in. Sharp also launched its first 40in BIG PAD interactive display for small, huddle meetings and interactive signage applications. The PN-40TC1 40in touchscreen display features P-CAP capacitive touch and offers many benefits of Sharp’s larger BIG PADs at a smaller size.

In the video wall category Sharp launched a new 70in model, said to be the largest commercially available video wall display. The PN-V701 combines Sharp’s UV2A technology and Advanced UCCT (Uniform Colour Calibration Technology) with ultra slim, but robust bezels to ensure a consistent, high quality image across the wall with minimal picture interruption and easy image maintenance.

On the development side, Sharp had a semi-transparent 17in ‘Field Sequential Display’ panel on its stand. This is a prototype device that the maker says has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, from digital signage to entertainment. The display is very power-efficient and totally different to other technologies as it uses a high frequency sequential RGBW colouring system.

Another player in the digital signage category, BrightSign, had several new tricks up its sleeve. A smart move to offer other companies the chance to build its technology directly into their products. The HD3 Series BrightSign Built-In module is intended for integration into OEM commercial makes it straightforward for manufacturers to embed BrightSign’s tech.

“Our new HS123 module makes it possible for manufacturers to sell displays that are signage-ready, right out-of-the-box,” said Jeff Hastings, BrightSign’s CEO. “Signage-ready displays are called for in settings with limited player placement options and we’re glad to offer this new module to manufacturers that have been looking to use our leading signage hardware for this type of integrated product offering.”

The module resides on a single board that measures only 70mm x 100mm boasting a hardware-accelerated HTML5 rendering engine that supports Full HD (1080p60) video, Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF digital audio, USB 2.0, Serial connectivity as well as IR control for expanded interactive options. It also offers GPIO and UDP to enable interactive control capabilities, as well as an optional WiFi/Bluetooth module for wireless connectivity and BrightBeacon support. The module is compatible with all BrightSign software, services and supported CMS platforms. Companies already on-board with the idea are AVNU Digital and Industrial Image, both showing their displays at ISE.

Another of the company’s ideas has been to deliver a solution for those needing to integrate with the Intel Open Pluggable Specification (OPS). Building on the existing Series 3 player, BrightSign has introduced a new version with OPS built-in. The HO523 also features a JAE TX25 plug for connecting to interior display components (video, USB, serial, etc.), the outside edge has industry-standard connectors, as well as specialised device control and feedback interfaces.

“The commercial signage market is clamouring for an affordable, reliable OPS media player that offers features and functionality that have come to be expected for commercial-grade digital signage,” Jeff added. “A combined solution that works flawlessly and provides digital signage integrators with a stable platform will increase the size of the market for OPS-based digital signage systems.”

The key launch from Barix at ISE 2017 was its audio signage solution, which supports multiple channels of audio enabling users to listen to audio from digital signage displays.

While it’s yet to be seen whether there’s a big market for such a product, Barix has reportedly received a lot of interest. The company described one situation where a bar was utilising switches for audio in individual booths, allowing users to switch the audio feed on the speakers based on what booth they were in. This wasn’t the ideal solution, however. It’s considerably expensive to install, and requires a switch in every booth.

With Barix’s solution, all users need to do is to download an app and remotely access audio from digital signage with next to no latency. What’s more, businesses installing Barix’s solutions will be able to integrate the audio listening functionality into their own app – allowing them to showcase offers and opening times, alongside multiple channels of audio dependent on the digital signage that are installed.

Using Barix, businesses will be able to show multiple sporting events in a bar and still give users access to the audio stream of each event. The company also described how museums would be able to utilise the technology, and how cost effective it would be compared to the current solution of buying a Linux PC.

Middle Atlantic’s big launch at ISE 2017 was not the most eye-catching launch at first glance, but for those working with digital signage – it could change the way they work. That’s because the new Proximity Series Mounting Plate will allow installers to mount a player directly behind a display with ease. That means whether it’s an Apple TV or dedicated digital signage player, installers can hide the box directly behind the display rather than having it stored in a rack. Middle Atlantic said that “it’s about making it easier for the developer and finding solutions – not always being overly glamorous”.

The Proximity Series Mounting Plate may have launched at ISE 2017 and was showcased next to the company’s Vision Display Mounts, but the company is committed to backwards compatibility. That’s why the mounting plate is fully compatible with the company’s other mounting solution.

Some really cool Minority Report type functionality was on show on the Zytronic stand, where Ian Crosby, sales and marketing director was proud to show off the company’s object recognition on large format touch tables.

Working in collaboration with Tangible Display, Zytronic is able to offer object recognition capability on its MPCT multi-touch glass (ZyBrid) and foil (ZyFilm) sensor products up to 85in. When used on touch-tables, object recognition provides a compelling new way of engaging the user with the touch screen and the interactive content. A good solution for retail, museums and galleries, the system is based on the attachment of physical markers to the objects to be tracked and does not require modification of the touch sensor or multi-touch controller.

Ian explained how users can create their own interactive objects for use with the maker’s multi-touchscreens. For example, in a car dealership, small models of the different cars available can be placed on the table-top screen and to access further information about that option, colours, engine specs, the user can build their own bespoke model right form the display. The speed of the displays when the objects are placed onto the table and rotated or moved around is impressive; the user really gets the feeling of being in control and the experience feels genuinely immersive and futuristic. The system can react to multiple objects, but will ignore anything else either left of placed on the surface.

The company is also a supplier of high quality signage displays created in its own UK factory. A strong area for the company is application where reliability and durability are key, but the screens are not just tough, they are clever too. The manufacturer was showcasing a new technology called force sensing which allows displays to be more interactive letting users delve deeper to get more information.

Ian said: “Force or pressure sensing is a whole new way of interacting with a touchscreen and we are a pioneer in bringing it to financial, retail, gaming, industrial and other commercial touch screen applications, giving developers a fantastic opportunity to innovate. It is particularly powerful when used in combination with Zytronic multi-touch technology, exceeding what is possible on all but the most advanced tablets and smartphones today. The technology used in consumer electronic devices doesn’t scale to large screens. We’ve developed our own, completely separate technology to implement this functionality.”

The screens can tell the difference between a hard and a soft-touch by measuring the surface area of the finger: as pressure is applied, the surface area gets larger and the screen can react. This eliminates the need for a piezo-electric or other layers on the glass to measure applied force or pressure. Since it relies on a modification to the firmware, it can also be retrofitted to existing Zytronic touch screens.

There was no shortage of innovation on the Peerless stand, however perhaps the standout product was the new universal SmartMount LED mounting system shown in fixed flat-to-wall and full service pop-out configurations. With an ultra-lightweight aluminium frame, X, Y and Z adjustment and support for multiple LED display sizes and brands, the system has been created to be one of the most versatile, easy to assemble and install indoor LED mounting solutions available. On the stand Peerless had a 7×4 video wall featuring 2.42mm pixel pitch indoor LED on the system and a 6×6 video wall featuring 1.2mm and 1.5mm pixel pitch indoor LED. The system uses three scissor arms, allowing the pop-out mechanism for recessed wall, rear access requirements.

The system is delivered as modular parts for ease of transportation and installation. The frame attaches to the wall with easy-hang bracketry and is scaled according to the video wall configuration. Display-specific adaptors are then fixed in place on the frame, according to the LED tile model and size, using universal support brackets. The tile simply slots into place on the adaptor and is secured in place with two screws at the rear.

Adjustment on the X, Y and Z axis allows the installer to overcome uneven walls while simplifying the display and adaptor alignment. Cable management is integrated into the frame, which sits close of the wall for a slim aesthetically pleasing finish, while allowing enough room at the rear for component cooling. The system can be built to any flat-to-wall, floor standing, floor-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, and other front service specifications or configurations.

Not forgetting Panasonic’s prominent stand (when not entertaining crowds with its projection mapping mime show), which was used to preview the SF2 series, a new range of E-LED display panels complete with energy efficient E-LED backlighting engineered for digital signage, during ISE. The Full HD displays are available in four sizes and feature wide-view IPS panel technology, with 450 cd/m2 brightness, making them well suited for digital signage applications.

Scheduled for release in July 2017, the range can be operated in a single or multi-screen environment, as well as in portrait or landscape orientation. The displays also feature a built-in USB Media Player, although there is also functionality for synchronised power on/off making managing a large-scale multi-screen installation practical.

And that wasn’t all for Panasonic, as it also unveiled a range of user-friendly, high-brightness and lightweight portable projectors for education and corporate environments.

The 3LCD PT-VZ580 series comprises three wireless and three network capable models offering 5,000 lm of brightness at WUXGA resolution (PT-VZ585N/PT-VZ580), 5,300 lm at WXGA (PT-VW545N/PT-VW540), and 5,500 lm at XGA (PT-VX615N/PT-VX610), all with contrast of 10,000:1.

The wireless models are equipped with Miracast technology that allows the easy projection of documents, Full HD video, images and audio via iOS and Android devices as well as Windows and Mac PCs.

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