The Inavate ISE 2023 panel discussions saw an exchange of ideas

A series of Inavate-hosted panel discussions took place during ISE 2023 covering everything from XR to live events to supply chain to interoperability. Paul Milligan reports.

Much like previous years we held a series of panel discussions at ISE 2023 to explore the hottest topics in the AV world. Filmed on our stand, they are all available to watch in full (each one has a runtime of only 5-10 minutes) at www.riseshow.tv. The topics ranged from XR studios to interoperability to the remote production of live events.

The sessions kicked off with an exploration of the design process of Microsoft Teams Rooms, Don Lambresa from Project AV said a lot of the features available now from Microsoft weren’t present two years ago, when there was a much bigger push for a one-size-fits-all approach to room design. Another challenge is the proliferation of industrial open ceilings, glass walls, the abundance of poor lighting and audio, these are all barriers to effective room design. Clients need to engage a consultant or integrator at the same time as speaking to an architect so that the furniture shape, number of inputs, audio and lighting is right before the room is given over to the integrator to complete the install. When asked about the uptake of the Front Row 21:9 format, Lambresa said there would be some, but that it wouldn’t happen quickly.

XR
The next discussion looked at XR studios, and the potential for this to be a big market within the corporate sector. Andy Hook from White Light said installs are happening right now because it provides a new way to create dynamic content, especially as “So many corporate and education institutions are becoming media companies, and engaging with audiences around the world.” David Grey from Lux Machina feels it’s vital that XR studios concentrate on a ‘content first’ approach. “It can’t be technology-driven, it has to show people this is better because of the XR technology we are using,” he said. For long-term adoption to take place, XR needs to “work every day, be repeatable, they need to be able to walk in five minutes before a presentation, press go and it works,” said Hook.

When looking at installing an XR studio into existing meeting rooms it’s more important to consider aspects such as ceiling space, footfall past the room, noise, ambient lighting, than the actual room size said Jeremy Lampard from ISDM. A typical install path added Hookis that his team will install an XR studio in a small space to start off with, then the client will come back for bigger spaces once they see how much they are using it and what the potential really is. Gray agreed, “we have to build a path for clients when it comesto XR, it’s not cheap at the moment, so we have to create small stepping-stones for the technology, so it can be beneficial to everyone.”

Interop
The issue of interoperability is one that has never gone away in the AV world, and even though the issue has improved in the last five years, there are still huge problems. “We are seeing more progress than we have in the past,” said Andy Evans from Maverick but it’s not a closed loop yet. “From an engineering and a technology perspective, each of the platform providers think they are getting closer. I think we are 20 years ahead of where we were 10 years ago, but for the connectivity in technology-enabled meeting spaces, so I can connect to what I want to connect to, there is still some way to go.”



Eighty-five percent of companies have two or more meeting platforms, “and that’s here to stay,” said Simon Watson from Kinly, so clients are looking for integrators who have skills in multiple platforms. Sometimes interoperability is a fix to get platforms working together in the short term he added, other times it’s the reality of everyday life for an integrator. One accepted part of an integrators job is to make different systems communicate with each other, “But if manufacturers are not putting things in place where products can communicate cross-platform, for an integrator it becomes difficult to select an open platform of different manufacturers so your selection of manufacturers is reduced based on what will interop,” said Jon Maguire, proAV.

It also means your client will end up in a dead end added Anders Jorgensen from Stouenborg, “because they can only choose a particular brand on that platform or protocol.” Sometimes your hands are tied as an integrator because of global standards the client may have added Maguire, and to change this an integrator will have to go through proof of concept rooms, penetration testing on hardware, so it’s not easy to flip from product A to product B. “It would be great to have an AV standard that allowed you to choose different products very easily then we would be able to be more competitive on price,” added Jorgensen.

Supply chain
The next panel looked at the current supply chain crisis to ask integrators, if you found replacement kit when stock was low, was it a success? “Overall it’s been a success,” says Roland de Groot from CT Ireland. “We’ve found other kit the client has liked, and wants to stick with in the long-term.” Clients are just looking for the same functionality said Jason Robinson from Nupixels, and haven’t been too concerned with the badges the products came with.

The process has been a mixed bag for Stephen Barker from Cordless Consultants, there were some products for which there was an easy replacement, other times the client has wanted to wait for stock, “and they are still waiting now,” Barker also reported fitting replacement products that haven’t worked, and that clients were even willing to have less functionality in the short term by waiting for stocks levels to return, rather than purchase an alternative.

Bringing in a new product can sometimes mean the IT team has to support two systems instead of one says de Groot, which never proves popular on the client side. Robinson said he hadn’t seen any noticeable difference in the service he received from smaller brands than he was used to using. Will they be sticking with the new brands they have tried in the last 18 months? “One or two,” said de Groot. “We now have them in our back pocket if we need them.”

Remote production
The final panel explored the cross-section between AV-over-IP technology and event production to ask do you still have to be in the room to produce a live event?
“In terms of can it be done? Absolutely. The technology is there and there’s lots of things in place now to do it,” said Marc Risby from Digibox. Technically it can be done agreed Mike Halliday from Cordless, “It’s whether it should be, will it give the best experience for those operating the kit remotely but also those in that room? So often it’s about the event itself, if you are trying to mix a live music event for example, if you are recording it then all you’re interested in is what’s going into the recordings. If you are trying to give the audience the feel of the experience you need to hear what they’re hearing.”

 

 

There are benefits to remote event production however, equipment and staff don’t have to fly around the world for a one day event, which saves money and the environmental impact, and staff don’t have to leave their families for days at a time. “Increasingly you have live events with remote participants even in the event itself, unless you have live technicians in every location, you may as well all be remote anyway” said Halliday. He’s seen a recent increase in global organisations putting together lots of presentations in one single event, from around the world, all managed by a central production hub.

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