Audio at ISE 2018

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ISE embraces all the verticals of the industry and offers visitors an unforgettable experience. It is the highlight of the technology innovations year where the experience shines a bright light on the future of the industry. ISE is the launch pad where various research and development (R&D) teams unveil the results of last year’s undisclosed “Project X’. Manufacturers reveal new products and developments in an attempt to position themselves as chief amongst their peers. At ISE we see bigger and better, and big brands aim to get consumers’ nod of approval.

New audio solutions

From an audio perspective, there are many new angles and features to attract consumers. In the corporate world of online meetings, audio is far more important than video. Kramer Electronics recently launched a vibrating transducer speaker that will turn nearly any surface into a loudspeaker.

This product is ideal for huddle space or small meeting room solutions where speakers can be hidden due to space or aesthetic challenges. Bose Professional has an exciting new in-ceiling speaker that will utilise fewer speaker units to cover larger areas with quality audio. In the cinema industry, 3D sound effects are still top of the charts, and I would expect many manufacturers to showcase technologies such as Dolby Atmos.

A large part of commercial audio for online conferencing is the microphone component. A sleek new unified communications microphone from Revolabs, who now falls under the Yamaha umbrella, will be on show. Shure Microphones will demonstrate MicroFlex, a completely wireless microphone system for top-class audio recording in dynamic meeting areas. Moving on to residential audio, offerings will be more aesthetic than before, but the main focus will be on file storage, playback and signal distribution for multi-room applications. Signal distribution technology on its own will offer various products at ISE. Wireless technology will be topical and will most definitely be emphasised even though it has always had limitations compared to conventional copper wired systems.

One can expect to be impressed with recent developments on the wireless audio front. As far as wireless speakers go, Hogar Control will demonstrate Milo – their new wireless active speaker which doubles up as a hub for Wifi, Bluetooth and even Zigby signals for home automation. Milo is Google Assistant active and can stream music, search the web or control third-party devices around the home. When it comes to voice activation, Klipsch’s new active speakers supports Amazon’s Alexa interface for similar functions. Apart from the video and audio component in home cinemas, aesthetic furniture that offers full a cinematic experience by tilting and vibrating with movie images will be demonstrated wherever possible.

A few new brands, such as sleek design giant Bang & Olufsen, are entering the Outdoor and Live events a market. A recent collaboration with Origin Acoustics ensures the launch of a high end, modular, outdoor speaker array. Amongst the many players, as before, the active speaker technology with digital distribution will receive a lot of attention from consumers. Lighting manufacturers will all try to steal the show with special effect lighting, trussing, and show control desks. Video manipulation processors is constantly expanding their technologies in that dimension of the live entertainment industry and will be displayed to full potential.

Bringing it all together

Integration systems have always been a large part of the show and will, keeping with the trend, be bigger and better than in previous years. Remotes and touch-panels will be sleeker looking. Processors and hardware components with more capabilities or cloud-based systems that distribute IP commands only will be the order of the day. Kramer Control will showcase their own Touch Panel.

Crestron added Google Assistant for voice-controlled home automation, and Elan already bragged with smooth looking remotes. Control 4 will also get a lot of attention from the visitors with the Russound integration and a more user-friendly programming protocol, where consumers can add their own functions.

Wireless Collaboration is probably the biggest word in corporate AV at the moment and has been for a couple of years. Expect ISE 2018 to expand this topic even further. Almost every leading provider or manufacturer of corporate components will have some offering, if not a full solution for wireless presentation, or video conferencing. One can expect to see top-end systems from leading brands such as Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize as well as more cost-effective solutions from commercial video houses like NEC and Sharp that offers OPS slots for Android or Windows integrated PCs.

These operating systems allow the use of collaboration apps or unified communication software packages, and, with the addition of a microphone and camera, the display turns into a cost-effective fully wireless collaboration solution. Kramer will showcase additional options from their existing VIA range, Datapath is offering a new solution that combines collaboration and display, Barco will expand on ClickShare, and Crestron Mercury will be in full action at the Crestron Booth.

Getting the content out there

Exciting innovations in video production and broadcast include a multitude of cameras that offer better technology and higher resolution, signal switchers and preview distribution amps. As in previous years, a cage full of drones will compete for best stability, control and energy consumption. A clean and stable power supply is an important aspect of electronics, and ISE 2018 will have many manufacturers who address this topic too.

Sharing new ideas

In addition to the toys and tools of the industry, there will be lecture rooms full of experienced professionals sharing their “tricks of the trade’ and industry education giants such as AVIXA and CEDIA will have numerous courses and certification sessions to attend.
Apart from browsing through innovations and collecting ideas, ISE is also a networking hot-spot and great place to meet with suppliers, discuss market patterns and client requirements. It’s a perfect opportunity to introduce key customers to the latest innovations and catch up with colleagues and industry associates from other locations.

All in all, ISE is an experience unlike any other, and 2018 edition promises to be worth enduring the European winter weather.

 

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