ISE 2022 report: Innovation was limited but if you dug a little deeper you could still find it

Given recent history it was no surprise a glut of new products didn’t emerge from ISE 2022, but there was still some innovation on display.

For a show that has been running for nearly 20 years, this year’s ISE felt like walking into the unknown. In February 2020 Covid had struck in Asia and was beginning to hit Europe just as the show was taking place. Last year’s (postponed) ISE show was spun into four smaller regional events because of Covid restrictions on travel, so the emphasis was more on re-establishing contact with colleagues/clients, rather than seeing brand new products.

And there was a large element of that this year too, as it was the first time the AV industry had been allowed to congregate together in the same place. Running alongside the pandemic and caused in part by it (as I write this some parts of China are in lockdown), is a huge supply chain problem which is causing product shortages for nearly every manufacturer in the AV world. This was always going to restrict the number of genuinely new products we’d see at ISE 2022. Instead of a glut of new products we’d normally expect from an ISE show, what we saw were a few new products, and a bulk of other products launched during the pandemic that felt new because we’d never seen them in the flesh before.

Digital Projection is a projector manufacturer that has consistently punched above its weight when it comes to R&D, and alongside the (still pretty unique and clever) Satellite MLS (Modular Laser System), it was showing the second generation of its 8K DLP projector, the laser phosphor-illuminated Insight laser 8K model.

The biggest crowd of the show could be found at the Samsung stand taking pictures beside the latest iteration of The Wall. Its 2022 model is available in 0.63mm and 0.94mm pixel pitches. Also unveiled in Barcelona was The Wall All-in-One, which is sold with a pre-adjusted seam and a ‘Pre-Assembled Frame Kit’ and is designed to be as easy to install as a consumer TV. The package includes an embedded media player. It is available in three different models 146-in (4K), 146-in (2K) and 110-in (2K), and two 4K 146-in screens can be installed side by side to create a 32:9 form factor. Other new displays to catch the eye were a 120-in 8K monitor from Sharp which features the Intel Smart Display Module (SDM) compute module. The Intel SDM prototype showcased at ISE also supports 5G network usage, which was an interesting addition and a clue to where displays might be headed next.

Another interesting display innovation came from PPDS (Philips professional displays) in the form of its New Wave cloud platform. Designed in collaboration with system integrators, Wave is for the installation, control and management of PPDS pro displays remotely from any location. AV and IT managers are able to view status (including screenshots), and access controls to each display, which has been designed to eliminate the need to go to site, saving time and money and interruption of service.LED was huge at ISE 2022, with Barco taking the headlines with the launch of its new TruePix range for control rooms, TV studios, lobbies, boardrooms, auditoriums, and other corporate applications. The 16:9 tiles come in pixel pitches ranging from 0.9 to 1.9mm, they are the first products to incorporate Barco’s Infinipix Gen2 image processing system.

Two interesting aspects revealed at the TruePix launch at ISE is that Barco has said replacement tiles will be available for this range for 10 years and also that the tiles feature 5Gb bandwidth, so a videowall has fewer cable runs (and points of failure) as more LED modules can be connected in a single link. Staying in the world of LED, it was interesting to see fully operational XR studios on both the Absen and InfiLED stands. Both manufacturers also launched new LED tiles in Barcelona. ISE marked the international premiere of Absen’s Clear Cobalt (CL) MicroLED product. The range has two models, the CL1.2 and CL0.9, which measure 610 x 343mm, support resolutions from HD to 8K, and feature chip-on-board technology. InfiLED was debuting its MV Edge series of curved panels for outdoor fixed installations. Each module can support connection angles from 90° to 180° and can be serviced at both front and rear.

One interesting little LED bit of news you may have missed, was that VOD Visual launched Edge Connect, a 55-in LED tile with direct HDMI connectivity, that comes in 1.2mm, 1.5mm, 1.8mm, and 2.5mm pixel pitch versions.

One big projector preview at the show came from Christie, in the form of the upcoming 50,000 lumens 4K50-RGB pure laser projector.

Two companies that are on the up in recent years after receiving financial backing are Hall Technologies (formerly Hall Research) and Maxhub (part of CVTE Group). Hall has changed hands twice over recent years but is now positioning itself as a provider of end-to-end products rather than concentrating on one small aspect of AV installs (cables and extenders). To demonstrate this new approach, it launched a line of PTZ cameras at the show with 4K resolution for training rooms, videoconferencing, house of worship, telemedicine, and UC applications. Hall also launched the EMCEE200 presentation switcher and scaler to meet issues found in videoconferencing, collaboration, lecture and remote learning for education and training, and live streaming platforms. EMCEE200 features Picture-in-Picture and Picture-over-Picture capabilities and features a built-in dual mic mixer and can process up to four 4K@60 video sources.

Maxhub is another company looking to grow its product portfolio in order to reach new customers. To do this it launched Maxhub Digital Signage, and an all-in-one conferencing solution that can integrate with existing systems in any meeting venue. Also new on the stand was UC S10 Pro, a communication hub for collaboration. It features one-click wireless screen sharing of up to four screens, HDMI 2.0 4K camera output, intelligent face recognition, 120° field of view, and auto-framing in spaces of all sizes.

Audio is provided with built-in noise reduction, echo cancellation, and voice pickup over 8 metres. Hall 7 housed many of the big names in audio, but because of supply chain issues, new audio products were low on the ground.

Audio-Technica launched a new ATDM-1012 Digital SmartMixer, for applications from hospitality, corporate to courtrooms. It is 14-input matrix mixer featuring 10 mic/line inputs with preamps and two pairs of stereo inputs, USB audio I/O, eight balanced outputs and two unbalanced stereo outputs. Renkus-Heinz was showing its new PCX Series, which features the company’s UniBeam steerable technology in passive columns. Fresh from its world debut at Prolight and Sound in Frankfurt last month, DAS Audio was at ISE to show Lara, the only powered cardioid line array on the market. It is a powered, cardioid, 4-way line array system with a symmetrical design, and offers 146dB linear Max SPL, making it suitable for large events.

Among three new product launches (LA7.16i amplifier and Soka loudspeaker and companion subwoofer SB6i) from L-Acoustics was L-ISA Ambiance, a virtual acoustics enhancement system. Ambiance uses L-Acoustics loudspeakers, mics, and a 3D Room Engine powered by the L-ISA Processor II. Ambiance allows AV integrators and consultants to change the acoustic properties and qualities of a venue to match the desired atmosphere.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest growth area of products at ISE 2022 was in meeting room audio and video. Sennheiser was leading the way with the TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker which is for mid-sized Microsoft Teams Rooms for up to 10 people. It features a speaker and seven beamforming microphones that cover a 3-5metre radius. The speaker will also transcribe the meeting in real-time while identifying up to 10 different voices in the room. Also announced at the show was that Sennheiser’s Speechline Digital Wireless microphones now comes as a bundle with Cedat85’s transcription software Cabolo, which can work without any internet connection requirement.

Jabra was also present at the show, highlighting its PanaCast 20 and PanaCast 50 video bars, the latter features eight mics and an array of four speakers. A clever new addition to the PanaCast 20 is an update announced at the show that will permit users to optionally blur or replace their video background with a solid colour. Unlike the use of client-based virtual backgrounds, where the original user video passes over networks and through the cloud to the client, these background effects are processed and applied directly on the device using PanaCast 20’s integrated Edge AI processing. The client receives only the resulting processed image, ensuring that a user’s surroundings and sensitive data that may appear in the background of their original video image remain fully secure and completely private, and never leave the device.

Biamp was also active in this product segment at ISE 2022, with the launch of Vidi 150, a conferencing camera for huddle rooms and small to medium sized conference rooms. The Vidi 150 includes a 4K camera with a 120-degree field of view, 8MP sensor, and a built-in mic array. It also has manual electronic pan/tilt/zoom (ePTZ) with user-definable presets, automatic participant framing and ePTZ, all controllable by a remote.

LED was again the dominant technology at ISE 2022, but anything with a Microsoft Teams Rooms certification label on it came a very close second, and may well overtake LED by the time the next ISE comes around. As different regions across EMEA begin the return to work post-Covid, and we all try and figure out what hybrid working actually means in reality, it’s clear that AV manufacturers have identified MTR as a huge opportunity. And to succeed in that space means making nice with the default platform provider – Microsoft, by way of certification.

ISE 2022 had a distinct nod to the role AV plays in creating art, attractions, and experiences. As artists start to explore the confluence of the digital and the physical, they need new canvases and technology is happy to step up to provide. There was an immersive art experience in Hall 2. The keynotes at ISE 2022 included Refik Anadol and Alan Greenberg, CEO and co-founder of Illuminarium. Anadol’s work incorporates data and AI while Illuminarium is known for creating immense spectacles that deliver high degrees of realism. Both use technology in their art to get their message across to the viewer. Anadol and Greenberg both made it clear that technology was a tool in the arsenal of artists. For it to be effective, technology needs to be married with content to be able to draw the viewer in rather than just deliver size and scale. Interestingly, Kraftwerk Living Technologies identified ‘art’ as the driving force for tech development. The integrator commented that corporate deployments prioritise reliability due to the critical function technology has to perform in corporate spaces. In contrast, ‘art’ requires technology to perform at the top end of its capabilities as artists look to push boundaries.

The conversation “do you have any stock?” must have been asked almost as much as “What new products do you have?” at this year’s show, so here’s hoping the supply chain issues will have eased by February 2023, or it might be another quiet ISE in regards to innovation.

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