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TOMORROW Carlo Ratti on why the future is ours to create Stefanie Corinth, NEC, on the rising demand for visual display solutions

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Landscaping the future with Studio Roosegarde founder, Daan Roosegarde

Amsterdam Light Festival’s Lennart Booij and how the power to evolve is in our hands

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Executive Issue 03


INSIDE Mike Blackman

Managing Director Integrated Systems Events

Welcome Welcome to the ISE Daily Executive Issue, celebrating the best of the very broad range of thought leadership at ISE 2018. The ISE Daily team have interviewed top-level executives, drawn from the ranks of key exhibitors and those at the heart of the ISE experience to bring you a taste of the world’s largest show for the AV and systems integration industry. In this our fifteenth year, we saw ISE expand in size and content, with a greater variety on offer than ever before. Our huge show was broadly divided into seven technology zones, encompassing almost 1,300 world-leading manufacturers and solutions providers. As well as exhibitors rising to our challenge to present their products and services in ‘real world’ integrated scenarios, we featured leading speakers from

across the industry at our show floor theatres and professional development seminars produced by our co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA. We also worked closely with Special Interest Groups of international endusers, bringing them into contact with exhibitors, media partners, trade associations, manufacturers and individuals. Together all these gave the technology on offer at ISE an even greater relevance to more than 80,000 show attendees. Welcoming back successful, cutting edge conferences, such as the Smart Building Conference and Digital Signage Summit, ISE also played host to the XR Summit, a B2B conference that focused on AR, VR and mixed reality technology and solutions, as well as the new TIDE conference produced by AVIXA, which explored the creative

Editorial Director: James McKeown Editor: Michael Burns ISE Daily Editor: Paddy Baker Writers: Paul Bray, David Davies, Stuart Fairclough, Elliot Herman, Heather McLean, Ian McMurray Photography: Chris Taylor ( Head of Design and Production: Stuart Moody

forces shaping the AV industry, and how businesses can leverage these concepts. Also new this year was the World Masters of Projection Mapping competition dedicated to showcasing the finest in projection mapping creativity, and demonstrating the use of cutting edge technology and production skills to further artistic, creative endeavour – exactly what ISE is all about. All of these events and content areas, and more at ISE, are represented by the interviews you’ll find in the following pages. We’ve tried to give you comprehensive crosssection review of the technology, creative and business trends on show at ISE, and showcase the best our industry has to offer the world. We hope you enjoy it. Mike Blackman, Managing Director, ISE

Stefanie Corinth NEC Display Solutions Europe

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Jeffrey Fairbanks III Bloomberg

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Carlo Ratti MIT Senseable City Lab/ Carlo Ratti Associati

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Tabatha O’Connor CEDIA

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Dan Goldstein AVIXA

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Philippe Bergeron Paintscaping

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Stuart Hetherington Holovis

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Sanj Surati Tiger Heart

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Roland Hemming RH Consulting

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Lennart Booij Amsterdam Light Festival

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Daan Roosegarde Studio Roosegarde

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Kevin Flanagan PLP Architecture

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Tom Ammermann New Audio Technology

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Rik Vereecken byNubian

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Ennio Prase Prase Media Technologies

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John Melillo Diversified

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Joe Rabah RMG Networks

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Tom Burch Projection Artworks

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Szymon Slupik Silvair

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Andreas Promny AV-Solution Partner / AK Media

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Joost Demarest KNX Association

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Group Sales Manager: Gurpreet Purewal Account Manager: Mark Walsh NewBay Managing Director: Mark Burton Published on behalf of the ISE Partnership by: NewBay Media Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London, SE1 9DU. Printed by Pensord Press, Tram Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood NP12 2YA, UK.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher.

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09/03/2018 14:21

Executive Issue 04



Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Development NEC Display Solutions Europe

By Ian McMurray Like any successful event, ISE relies on the hard work, commitment, enthusiasm, knowledge, and imagination of a group of people – and in the case of ISE, we’re talking about the ISE board, together with Integrated Systems Events managing director Mike Blackman and his team. In June last year, Stefanie Corinth, senior vice president, marketing and business development at NEC Display Solutions Europe, together with Piet Candeel, senior VP EMEA at Barco, were elected to the ninestrong board, which draws its membership from across the industry. “The ISE board regularly welcomes new members from the exhibitor base and, in my personal view, this is key to its success,” says Corinth. “Exhibitors can bring their market intelligence, their view on future developments and insights into the industry from a different perspective. In this way, exhibitors can contribute with fresh ideas and experiences, and also offer first-hand feedback on how ISE works for them. I hope I can serve as an additional and valuable source of feedback and ideas. Personally, it’s very exciting for me to work with Mike Blackman and to be able to contribute – to make a difference.”

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GLOBAL REACH Corinth goes on to remark how ISE, once perceived as an almost exclusively European show, is becoming increasingly global in its reach – and while, for many, ISE is a combination of fun and work, she is under no illusions about the primary purpose of ISE for the majority of – if not all – exhibitors. “I’m also very excited about the huge opportunity we have as an exhibitor to boost our sales pipeline,” she continues. “I’m sure the final figure will prove that, once again, the number of enterprise decision makers attending has increased. We’ve been meeting with more end users, more consultants, more integrators and more distributors from all around the world who want to discuss business opportunities with NEC’s global teams.”

CHANGES AFOOT But will she and the NEC team be talking to more female visitors? As things stand, the ISE board is composed of six men and three women – which is probably not representative in proportional terms of those coming through the doors of the RAI. Historically, the pro AV world has been a very male-dominated one. What are her thoughts?

“Of course, I think it could be more balanced,” she responds, “but I also believe this situation has improved over the years. I have attended ISE since it first began, and that’s certainly my impression. We need to continue to encourage people - men and women – to work in our very exciting, fast moving, engaging and creative industry. ISE and industry bodies like AVIXA and CEDIA, of course, can contribute here – and they’re doing so.”

POSITIVE FOCUS While Corinth’s enthusiasm for her new role and for ISE are selfevident, her passion for what she sees going on in the displays and projection market is, perhaps, even more intense. “The outlook for displays is very positive,” she smiles. “We expect the sustainable growth of professional display devices to continue. The advance of digital signage across all industries, especially retail, and the increase in corporate meeting facilities, plus education requiring a visual workspace for presentation, remote collaboration and creation, is seeing an ever-rising demand for visual display solutions.” “dvLED [direct view LED] is particularly exciting because it

21/02/2018 12:45

Executive Issue 05

The advance of digital signage across all industries… is seeing an ever-rising demand for visual display solutions

opens new opportunities for large canvas presentations and stunning opportunities for ‘mediatecture’ – integrating technology perfectly into the architecture,” she adds. “We’re already seeing great developments here – especially in the airport and retail sector.” “The large venue and installation projection market is similarly very positive, largely driven by laser technology,” Corinth goes on. “New laser developments mean we are still far from reaching market maturity. NEC is pioneering in this segment, offering the broadest choice to respond to the varying demands of users and applications. Beyond that, we clearly see projection technology entering new applications in signage solutions based on the benefits laser technology can offer.” As she leaves – whether to attend to her ISE responsibilities or to return to the NEC stand isn’t clear – Corinth shares one parting thought. “ISE is unique in its approach,” she states, “constantly working on improving the value and quality proposition for all visitors and exhibitors.” It’s clear that the future of the show is in good hands.

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22/02/2018 06:39:03

Executive Issue 07


CREATING THE IMPOSSIBLE Jeff Fairbanks III All too often technologists think an eight-step process is simple, because that’s how they are wired

By Paul Bray According to Jeff Fairbanks III, the perfect user experience doesn’t exist. Odd, then, that his presentation at ISE 2018 was entitled ‘The Convergence of IT/AV – the Perfect End User Experience’. But of course what he means is that there’s no standard ‘perfect experience,’ because there’s no standard user. “Ask five people about their perfect experience and there’s a good chance you’ll get four or five different answers,” says Fairbanks, who was speaking as part of the AV Magazine sessions at the CEDIA Smart Building Solutions Theatre (sponsored by KNX) at ISE. “As technologists, we need to constantly evolve our approach to fulfil the unexpressed wants and needs of our clients and guests. This means doing more user-based research to see what people expect. “We need to make the experience as easy and intuitive as possible for a layperson. All too often technologists think an eight-step process is simple

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because that’s how they are wired. But nothing could be further from the truth. Moreover, companies constantly position their product as the cure-all for your end user needs. In reality, there’s no magic bullet, no off-theshelf solution. Your users are not my users. So the perfect user experience must be specifically tailored to its audience.”

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE Fairbanks’s presentation outlined the strategy, process, and metrics behind building a comprehensive user experience ecosystem, helping audience members to navigate the commoditisation of unified communication (UC) solutions and tying together user data with knowledge and action. He then took the plunge and dived into the AV/ IT ecosystem to forecast the next iteration for user-focused solutions. “My key message was that UC is not a product, but the confluence of AV/IT technologies which is informed by user experience first, last and

Global Head of IT Operations, AV and Media Technology Bloomberg

always,” says Fairbanks. “I thought it was important to give a practical example, so I concluded with a case study outlining Bloomberg’s unique set of UC challenges and the solutions we created to satisfy our users’ needs. “Over the next year we plan on driving three core principles at Bloomberg: user experience, transparency and automation. We want our users to be able to self-service where they feel comfortable and leverage support when they don’t. The driving force behind this is that if users are comfortable, they’re generally happier and more productive. One of the things that drives us is always looking for the best and easiest products for us, our environment and our end users. This forces us to constantly look at our landscape and, in conjunction with our internal partners, refine our standard operating procedure and streamline our processes. Our goal is to simplify the user experience without removing any expected functionality.”

INTELLIGENT PLANNING It’s fair to say that creating a positive user experience has never been so important, or at least so high-profile. Fairbanks puts this down to increasing sophistication among users themselves. “I think that the user experience is being driven by a more informed and intelligent user base. There’s less of an appetite in the industry to utilise outside ‘knowledge’ to tell users what they want (or should want). The world has shifted to a more convenient, individually personalised experience in everyday life, and this has driven a marked change in users’ professional expectations.” So does Fairbanks have any suggestions on how ISE could improve its own user experience? He smiles. “The sign-in procedure is ‘interesting’, so perhaps there’s an opportunity for process improvement there. But overall ISE is amazing, the technology keeps getting better and the atmosphere is electric. It’s truly the greatest show on Earth!”

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Executive Issue 08



Director, MIT Senseable City Lab and Founding-Partner Carlo Ratti Associati-CRA Design Practice By Ian McMurray

One of the real pleasures and privileges of ISE is the ability to see and hear some of the world’s most prominent experts sharing their knowledge and passion on topics that are hugely relevant to the show’s exhibitors and visitors. In recent years, futurist Michio Kaku has outlined the path towards ‘perfect capitalism’, while awardwinning architect Ole Scheeren and Cirque du Soleil president and CEO Daniel Lamarre have also graced the RAI with their presence, as has futurist Lars Thomsen. This year saw Professor Carlo Ratti, an architect, engineer and inventor, who directs the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is founding partner of the design practice CRA, deliver the Opening Keynote Address shortly after the conclusion of the Smart Building Conference during which he participated in the one-day conference’s closing roundtable discussion. Ratti was named one of the ‘50 most influential designers in America’ by Fast Company and highlighted in Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List: 50 people who will change the world.’ His theme for ISE was how the future will be created, and the role that each of us should play in ensuring it’s a future that we’re comfortable with.

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“The future is not written in stone,” he says. “It’s up to us to make the decisions about how we want to live in the future. We have it in our power to invent the way things will be.” For Ratti, the future is open-ended, with multiple potential scenarios capable of being played out – many of them enabled or facilitated by technology. He sees IoT being capable of radically changing not just how industry works or how we live in our homes – but entire cities also. He and his team at the Senseable City Lab spend much of their time modelling those scenarios and attempting to assess their implications. “Through design and science, the Lab develops and deploys tools to learn about cities – so that cities can learn about us. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed – as are the tools we use to design them,” he explains. “It’s all about the convergence between the digital world and the physical world, together with the convergence of a whole range of technologies.” Ratti is a passionate believer not just in what he and his team are doing, but that their findings are made known as widely as possible. “What’s most important,” he believes, “is not what we’re doing,

but that what we’re doing becomes public knowledge. We need to have an open conversation. The results of our work should be out there for people to consider. At the end of the day, decisions about how we will live in the future should not be made by giant corporations or scientists or states – they should be made by the citizens themselves, fully armed with the knowledge of the different possibilities. It’s they who should decide what kind of cities we will live in in the future.” He is also a believer in the idea that who and what we are – our DNA – will always, if eventually, assert itself in what we allow technology to do for us, and the extent to which we embrace it. Ratti cites as an example Facebook, and how it is to some extent only the technology manifestation of the long-held human desire to communicate and to share stories – whether around the village well, via letters or phone calls, or using the internet. “But,” he cautions, “we need to be careful that we remain masters of that technology, rather than letting it master us. Technology is seldom without unforeseen consequences. What the future will be is for us to decide,” he concludes. “What’s vital is that we have all the information we need in order to make the best decisions.”

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Executive Issue 09

It’s up to us to make the decisions about how we want to live in the future. We have it in our power to invent the way things will be

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21/02/2018 12:50

Executive Issue 10


Tabatha O’Connor President and CEO CEDIA

RENEWED PURPOSE, RENEWED ENERGY By Ian McMurray For a large part of last year, Tabatha O’Connor carried out the duties of the president and CEO of CEDIA – a role that was made permanent just before ISE. That alone might have made it a memorable year for her – but in fact, she has much more to look back on, as the year saw CEDIA achieve some notable successes. “We started the year by aligning as a single global organisation,” she says. “Since then, we’ve expanded the availability of CEDIA training worldwide; we’ve broken ground on our new headquarters; and we’ve significantly increased the size of the CEDIA EMEA training facility. And that,” she smiles, “is to name but a few of our accomplishments.” O’Connor says she derives most satisfaction, however, from the work CEDIA has done to develop a threeyear, unified strategy for the global organisation – something she believes is the foundation for its

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future success. The strategy particularly focuses on education, cross-industry collaboration and workforce development. “The strategy work galvanised for us that the health of the industry is dependent upon a well-trained and professional workforce,” she explains. “Our responsibility is to deliver education pathways that support that. For cross-industry collaboration, we’ll be reaching out to the design/build community: we need to build awareness and create demand for our members. Last but not least, we recognise that the success of the home technology industry relies on the skills and qualifications of the workforce entering the industry. Our strategy sees us raising awareness of career opportunities among jobseekers.”

SHOWING THE WAY Education has, of course, always been one of the key reasons to

We’re deeply committed to the success of our members and our goal is to provide value to them at ISE

attend ISE, and this year, CEDIA was offering no fewer than 50 sessions. “CEDIA Certification will be a major focus for us throughout the year,” O’Connor confirms, “and that started here at ISE 2018. ISE is one of the best venues for CEDIA to connect with our global membership as well as potential new members,” she continues. “We’re deeply committed to the success of our members and our goal is to provide value to them at ISE. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in a robust training programme and, in addition, worked to pull together a compelling line up of CEDIA Talks.” CEDIA Talks are free, 20-minute sessions designed to challenge conventional ways of thinking and generally, O’Connor laughs, blow the minds of all attendees. The theme for this year was “10 Things You Should Pay Attention to, but Probably Aren’t,” with each Talk focused on one important ‘Thing’. “CEDIA Talks are not to be missed!” O’Connor

declares. Among the multiple classes offered – covering everything from high resolution audio to lighting control – were two that particularly caught the eye: a session on VR for smart homes, and another on assisted living. Both reflect what O’Connor sees going on in the market. “Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are making exciting inroads,” she believes. “The applications go well beyond entertainment; these technologies have business applications for the integrator. So-called ‘Aging in Place’ is also a massive opportunity for our members,” she adds. “Two-thirds of all those people 65 and over who have ever lived on Earth are alive right now. Keeping that population at home is more than a comfort – it’s cost-effective. There’s an equation here: fear of the care home plus massive expenditures equals huge opportunities in the near future for integrators.”

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Executive Issue 11



Senior vice president, content and communications AVIXA

The show floor is full of solutions to problems people don’t even know they have

By Ian McMurray Can you remember what you were doing in February 2004? Dan Goldstein can. He was at the first ever ISE in Geneva – one of 3,500 visitors finding out what 120 exhibitors had to offer. “Yes,” he laughs, “and I’ve been at every show since then – and I’m proud of it! The show has changed enormously. It’s not really about ‘Integrated Systems’ any more. I don’t think people come to Amsterdam to buy systems. They come because the show floor is full of solutions to problems people don’t even know they have, and because there is so much innovation and creativity on display. And, at a time when we are, perhaps, lacking earth-shattering new technologies, they come because that innovation is personal as well as technical. The networking is second to none, and more critical than ever.”

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ANNUAL CELEBRATION Now, of course, the show attracts over 70,000 visitors from around the world and over 1,200 exhibitors – evidence, if any were needed, of the growth and success the AV industry has achieved over the intervening years. Has 2017 been another good year? “From where I’m sitting,” says Goldstein, “it looks like it’s been a terrific year. Our AV IOTA [Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis] report projected Europe’s AV industry would grow by over four per cent in 2017, and with most of the major European economies now firmly in growth mode, I’d be surprised if we were substantially off the mark. Regionally, there’s a lot of pent-up demand being released in southern Europe, and while Brexit may pose challenges for the industry in the longer run, the short-term uncertainty has not had the negative impact on business that many of us feared.”

It’s also been something of a pivotal year for his Goldstein and his colleagues too. In September last year, the organisation that had been InfoComm International since 2004 (it was previously ICIA – the Information Communication Industries Association) changed its name. “Our old brand, InfoComm International, made us sound like a for-profit telecom company – not who we were, or who we want to be,” explains Goldstein. “It also led to a lot of confusion with our InfoComm show brands, which we needed to grow and refresh.”

COMMON GOALS “AVIXA does three things,” he continues. “First, it allows us to reclaim ‘AV’ as something distinct to be proud of. Second, it defines the ‘Integrated Experience’ – ‘IX’ – as something that AV helps to create. Third, it clearly identifies us as an

association – the final A. We’re a group of like-minded professionals and companies with common goals, with nobody taking a profit from our activities.” Goldstein goes on to describe a couple of the many initiatives AVIXA will be undertaking over the coming 12 months. The first is delivering better market intelligence - more accurate and comprehensive data on industry and market trends. The second is to create more industry awareness, with AVIXA acting as a catalyst for market growth in ways he believes the organisation hasn’t done until now – and that, he says, means taking responsibility for articulating the business value of AV to end users. “If we can deliver on both of those – giving our members better business insight and a bigger market space in which to play – then I think we are setting them up for even greater success in 2019 and beyond.”

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Executive Issue 12


Philippe Bergeron President and CEO Paintscaping

We want to be the PIXAR of projection mapping

FUTURE PROJECTIONS By Steve Fairclough With a career that includes developing the world’s first CG human with emotion and starring in films such as Iron Man 2, Philippe Bergeron is probably the ideal man to fuse the worlds of technology and storytelling. He has done this with his 3D projection mapping company, Paintscaping, which has clients in the worlds of music, hotels, automotive, movies and beyond. Bergeron appeared during blooloopLIVE at ISE 2018 to unpack his company’s recent ‘nighttime spectaculars’. These included an event to an audience of 22,000 people at the University of Virginia, using six Boxer 30K Christie projectors, and another in Sedona, Arizona, that was projected on a 200m x 120m mountain using a dozen 32K Barco laser projectors, visible to the entire uptown area. Bergeron views projection mapping as a vital technology for any future nighttime spectaculars or indoor use. “Projection mapping is really the

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merging of real and virtual worlds, but [many] people have seen mapping now and they’re not as enamoured by the technology as they used to be. This is a good problem for us, because you are then forced to focus on content.”

AGNOSTIC PROJECTION Bergeron expands on the topic, “We don’t care about the technology any more – we don’t care about what kind of projector is projecting on the white screen; we like a good audio system but we don’t care about it. We go to movies to be transported into another world in the story – that’s where mapping is. The challenge of mapping now is to write good stories, to create compelling visuals that affect people emotionally. That’s why it’s so relevant to the AV world.” He sees projection mapping as having applications across holiday destinations for shows, as a tool to attract people to shopping centres instead of buying everything online, and for film, TV and music videos. Indeed, his project list includes the

music superstars Rod Stewart, Eminem and Rihanna, as well as hospitality and entertainment giants MGM Resorts, Ritz-Carlton and Sony Pictures. However Bergeron points out, “There are also applications for permanent installs. I think that more and more people, like architects, will start using mapping as part of the design process – like an essential element to your building. We did a high-end commercial for BMW that first aired on NBC during the Rio Olympics, so that was mapping on cars. We also project on landscapes, so there are a lot of different applications.” He sees the next key challenge for mapping as being about how to map moving objects without latency, but admits, “At the end of the day unfortunately the delay emanates from the projector itself, which is hard to overcome. The strategy is to keep working on R&D.”

CONTENT ON TOP To ensure that Paintscaping remains at the top of the 3D mapping

business Bergeron explains, “We have to be technologically the best. We have to keep using the newest equipment all of the time. But, more importantly, the way we’re going to stay relevant is by doing compelling content. We want to be the Pixar of projection mapping. The reason Pixar is so successful is because they are so incredibly advanced technologically but, more importantly, their stories are compelling. Nobody comes out of a PIXAR movie saying ‘the number of pixels was incredible; the resolution was brilliant’. They come out of the movie because they love the characters, and they cried and laughed – that’s where we want to be.” He adds, “I see the future of mapping where every light bulb, every light source, will become an intelligent light source that will be able to capture the 3D information in real time, render and re-project in real time. In other words I see the future where reality will become subjective; where you won’t know what’s real or not. It will be that advanced.”

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Executive Issue 13



If you want to join us, you’ve got to bring something really innovative

By Steve Fairclough ISE 2018 saw the second year of Holovis sponsoring the show’s XR Technology Area, which featured variety of augmented, virtual and mixed realities that highlighted the varying possibilities of immersive technologies. Holovis CEO Stuart Hetherington is an industry veteran, but the showcase at ISE demonstrated his commitment to showing not only what his company can do, but also how the benefits of immersive technologies can marry up with the core AV world.

OUT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE The 2018 XR Technology Area featured an immersive ‘near miss simulation’ – based on working with a crane at height – with VR visuals, surround audio from headphones and gesture-tracking of your hands. There was also a VR ‘fatigue simulator’

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based around inducing a sleep cycle whilst ‘driving’ a van, as well as augmented reality pieces to show brand engagement and how agencies can use AR within their campaigns, plus a CAD overlay-based virtual manufacturing solution. Stuart Hetherington reveals, “Once we’d put that technology into the hands of the supply chain, users and visitors, it was amazing how well it was received. Obviously we use core AV technology, but we showed it in something that was very different to the traditional ‘ISE demo’. It was about showing what’s next and where we’re going as a business, but also to share that with the community. It’s a very big organic community in the way that it operates. It’s exciting to be a part of that beyond traditional AV.”

VIRTUAL GROWING PAINS Hetherington’s mission is about showing where next generation,

immersive, interactive, experiential type technology is going to give all vendors, suppliers and solution providers the opportunity to see how they can grow into this space. However, he warns, “One of my biggest fears in this space – especially in the years I’ve worked with VR – has been those who thought it was a solution looking for a problem. There was a lack of vision but at the same time it created a challenge. Is it a technology that will die or something that you truly want to embrace to solve problems? Finding those problems where [VR] is the key to it is what we’ve done.” Hetherington sees the mixed reality market as probably the most exciting future space that Holovis is innovating in. “We believe that an augmented version of virtual into the real world will be far more impressive and useful than individualised virtual reality systems. But when you look at what is

available from a hardware perspective at the moment it’s very, very limited. Fields of view, resolution and truly connected experiences are around how you interact with those spaces; the real world to the augmented… we’re years away from it.” As for the future of the XR space Hetherington says, “I’d like to think, selfishly; we’re always going to be involved in it, but I’d like to see other companies coming into the space, partnering with us and helping us. It’s not just about Holovis; it’s an industry thing. That’s a really important factor.” He concludes, “Every year we want to keep raising the bar by saying, ‘if you want to join us, you’ve got to bring something really innovative’. It would be fascinating to see how people step up. The industry wants to see what’s next but also how they apply it now, for their own benefits. Getting a nice marriage between those two points is equally important.”

21/02/2018 11:52

Executive Issue 14


The great thing about mixed reality is that the folklore of science fiction is finally becoming real

Sanj Surati

Digital Atelier and Founder Tiger Heart

CREATING THE NEW REALITY By Paul Bray For Sanj Surati, digital atelier and founder of Tiger Heart, the ability to mix the latest AV technologies with real-world experiences is nothing short of a fourth Industrial Revolution. “The great thing about mixed reality is that the folklore of science fiction is finally becoming real, and there are so many exciting opportunities,” he says. “This could be using interactive projection, or even reversing the production methodology of blockchain into an immersive experience where the guest has control of what they see and hear.” Surati shared his digital vision with ISE show attendees in his AV Magazine-sponsored presentation ‘Mixed Reality And The Future Of AV Tech’, which took place at the CEDIA Smart Building Solutions Theatre. “I love working with augmented reality,” he explains.

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“The magic mirrors I’ve worked on for LVMH and Charlotte Tilbury have been a lot of fun. Writing code that allows a computer to understand what something is visually is exciting, especially when you use it to communicate something using gestures or someone’s face. “I think gesture control using a depth camera is still in its infancy,” he continues. “The new depth camera on the iPhone X is incredible, and all Apple’s ARKit code is open source which is sure to bring some exciting innovations. A lot of my clients are really interested in interactive visualisation using gesture and touch,” he adds. “I’m currently working with interactive paints, which can be converted into components that trigger sounds, shapes and even lighting.”

FUTURE PROGRAMME Surati, an old hand at ISE, has seen the show improve dramatically.

“It’s become one of the biggest democracies in the world of AV systems integration,” he says. “There’s so much dynamic range within the creative side of the industry here. I also like the very progressive and open mindset of the attendees.” A key message from Surati’s pitch was that AV systems integration companies should invest in new coding talent. “This could be to develop AI software to help with automation, or even new ways for businesses to engage with customers,” he says. “AV systems integration and event production are catching up with how consumers’ needs are changing. The key thing is to ensure that any experience is seamless for the customer. The only way for businesses to understand this is to be part of the creative and development stage. Production companies need to hire in young coding talent and actively get

them involved in building new customer experiences.”

MACHINE LEARNING Surati also recommends blockchain as a technology to watch. “This is social, shared digital information that’s encrypted on many devices as opposed to just one, and it has huge potential within the events space. Artistic businesses like fashion brands are using it to combat counterfeiting and highlight where products are made. This process can be reversed, so that a customer can engage with an event’s visual media in exciting new ways, giving the illusion of a unique experience. “I also feel that artificially intelligent automation is on the cusp of a golden era. It may be something logistical that allows computer intelligence to understand light conditions and calibrate lighting design, or simply talking to a machine using voice as opposed to pulling a lever.”

21/02/2018 12:51

Executive Issue 15


SOUND ADVICE Roland Hemming Consultant/Founder RH Consulting

Governments and venues need joined-up terrorism and safety strategies

By David Davies Upgrades at several notable European sports venues, new approaches to terrorist incident planning, and the “frankly inadequate” audio systems that still exist at many stadiums across the continent were among the topics of discussion during Roland Hemming’s closing keynote conversation at SVG Europe’s Sports Venue & Fan Engagement Summit at ISE. Founder and principal of RH Consulting, Hemming was involved in two of the largest European audio projects of all time – the Millennium Dome and London 2012 – and has also worked extensively in live event, corporate AV, broadcast, education, transport and other fixed installation projects. He is also heavily involved in multiple standards projects, one of the most pressing of which revolves around the updating of the BS7827 British Standard for sound systems

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at sports grounds. “We plan for this to evolve in a number of ways,” says Hemming of the new version, which he hopes will be complete by the end of 2018. “First of all, it will now be applicable to all complex buildings – not just sporting venues – and will provide overall guidance over what standards should apply in different parts of a complex site which may comprise internal areas, external areas, staff-only spaces, and even areas outside of the site. This is currently an area where there is a great deal of confusion, so BS7827 will be of enormous help to consultants and integrators.” Hemming also touched upon his work helping venues to review their terrorism response strategies in light of the tragic events in Manchester, Paris and other major cities in recent years. “Existing audio systems are primarily based on evacuation, but this may not be desirable in a more complex terrorist incident,”

he says. “We’ve discussed this with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and have been conducting audits of venues to help them modify their audio systems, so they can cope with the sort of emergencies that are more likely than a simple fire or evacuation. We expect to see an increasing number of venues want to take these more complex requirements into account. “Governments across Europe have been issuing guidance to venues on the need to take terrorism into account as part of their overall safety strategy, and this needs joining up with the reality of what each venue currently has and what changes may need to be made,” adds Hemming.

BIG PITCH There was also time in the session for a few reflections upon recent RH Consulting projects, including an ongoing programme of work at Derby County Football Club – which

has been a real trailblazer regarding the overall enhancement of the fan experience and was the subject of a standalone presentation at last year’s summit – and an overhaul at the nearby Amsterdam Arena that entailed the installation of a new d&b loudspeaker system to join an existing Peavey MediaMatrix processing and distribution system. Once again, standards and compliance were uppermost in the collective mind. “Our work principally involved helping the Arena ensure that the new system was compliant,” Hemming says. “We helped them through this minefield, liaising with the local safety authorities, the venue and the installation contractor. [this sort of thing can be] especially troublesome given that everyone seems to demand compliance with standards, such as EN54, that really weren’t written for venues as complex, large or as loud as stadiums.”

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Executive Issue 16


Dr Lennart Booij

Artistic Director and Curator, Amsterdam Light Festival: Jury Chair, World Masters of Projection Mapping

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Executive Issue 17

MASTERING LIGHT By Elliot Herman From the end of November last year until mid-January, the Amsterdam Light Festival stunned visitors with an array of different lighting exhibits, on land and on water. Accompanying this came a three-week long competition of 3D projections onto the recently built EYE Filmmuseum in a regeneration area just across the River IJ from the old town and Amsterdam Centraal station. This World Masters of Projection Mapping (WMPM) competition – a joint venture initiative between Amsterdam Light Festival, ISE and RAI Amsterdam – culminated in a final on Thursday 8 February, and an Awards Showcase taking place at the RAI on the final day of ISE 2018. Artistic director and curator of the Amsterdam Light Festival is Dr Lennart Booij, who has been in the job since 2016, and whose work involves curating and selecting, in close cooperation with an international jury and a dedicated festival organisation, 21 artists for the water route, another 15 for the land route, and a further five for the projection competition.

ARTISTIC ENDEAVOUR “This is the first time we’ve done the projection mapping competition,” says Booij. “We were determined to really stretch what was achievable by using artists rather than traditional mapping designers. Software makes it much easier to design into the proportions of the [unusually-shaped] film museum, and brings forward so

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many more possibilities. It meant that the artists and technicians could work together and learn from each other.” The WMPM competition is supported by Technical Partners: Panasonic, Disguise, Alcons Audio, and Lightware; and Creative Partners: EYE Filmmuseum, and BeamSystems. In total, five artists were chosen to show their artworks on the building, the finalists selected in collaboration between EYE Filmmuseum and Amsterdam Light Festival. The award, which recognised the Best use of Location and Technology, was awarded to Florian and Michael Quistrebert for their Stripes 5 artwork. The other finalists honoured at the ceremony were: Geert Mul; Alida Dors and Manuel Rodrigues; Telcosystems; and Eder Santos. Commenting on the winning entry, Booij explained, “The jury were very complimentary about the composition and the use of the building in the display, including its underside. It also answers the question presented by the challenges of projecting onto a large surface. Creatively, it is graphically very strong and reflects on art disciplines like ‘op art’ and early abstract cinema.” Booij says he “stumbled upon the Light Festival”, which invited him to become curator. “I’m a broad-orientated person,” he adds. “I don’t want to be in the same situation for the rest of my life and want to get as much experience in as many different fields as I can.” Knowing the political scene

has certainly helped him in his curator role, where, he says, it makes it much easier to organise the logistics of a huge public art festival. “Amsterdam is small compared to, say, London; we all know each other, and have short lines of communication to the people who can make decisions,” he says. “If there’s a positive feeling, as there is for the Amsterdam Light Festival, it’s easy and satisfying to be able to get things done.”

WATER SHOW The festival has proved a huge success both in real life, and, as is so important these days, on social media, with works such as Whole Hole – which uses LED Christmas lighting to provide a ‘wormhole’ effect, pulling boats into a tunnel – which, Booij says, have proved “a tremendous Instagram success. We have to innovate every year; it always pays off if you invest in high quality works of art. What is a good work of art is, of course, a question of taste, but feedback has been hugely positive.” Booij and his team have already started working on the next festival, which will be the seventh. “The new theme is The Medium is the Message,” he comments. “Media scientist Marshall McLuhan said that the medium shapes our relationship to the message; and in today’s case, it would be our phone, our laptop, or our tablet, always sending or receiving messages. So far, we’ve had a lot of excellent responses, and are already looking forward to next year.”

It’s up to us to make the decisions about how we want to live in the future. We have it in our power to invent the way things will be

21/02/2018 12:04

Executive Issue 18



Founder, Studio Roosegaarde

By Steve Fairclough The traditional notion of designing objects such as supercars or designer handbags holds little truck with Daan Roosegaarde. The artist and innovator is the brains behind Rotterdam-based social design lab Studio Roosegaarde, which concentrates on tackling big problems such as clean air, clean water and clean energy. His keynote speech at the TIDE thought leadership conference during ISE 2018 focused on designing the landscapes of the future. He explains, “Design in this way is not about another chair, lamp or table – it’s about design to improve life. The global challenges we are facing right now – rising sea levels, CO2 emissions, smog pollution – is ‘bad design’. We are unconsciously designing our atmosphere, our planet earth, with our behaviour and it’s not balanced. That creates side effects that are damaging us.”

DUTCH MASTER The Studio Roosegaarde team is dedicated to discovering how they can use design, creative thinking and technology to improve life. This was most recently illustrated in a major, four-year project commissioned by the Dutch government to renovate and improve the Afsluitdijk dam,

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which was facing rising sea levels. He explains, “The Afsluitdijk is a 32km dam that’s now enhanced with retro reflective buildings which light up through the headlamps of passing cars – its opening was marked with an exhibition of energy harvesting kites and light emitting algae as a replacement for artificial light. It’s accepted by the [Dutch] population as a new icon, so that’s really beautiful. There are so many options to upgrade the world around us. That’s the message – we need to upgrade reality. It’s very simple.” He adds, “A lot of the time beauty is defined by a Ferrari or a Louis Vuitton bag, but what I’m doing with a team of designers and engineers is to redefine the notion of beauty – that’s fascinating. We’re whizzkids, nerds, engineers – we love technology and a lot of multi-cultural, different disciplines are working together to make this happen. You need to cross different sectors to create impact and to actually make it happen. The process is as important as the final project or product.”

BIG SKY THINKING Studio Roosegaarde’s current project is examining how to tackle the problem of space waste. “Right now there are more than 20,000 particles floating in space that are larger than

10cm [across],” notes Roosegaarde, “If that particle hits an existing satellite, and that satellite goes down, there’s no more Facebook, no more banking and no more websites! It’s the smog of the universe, so how do we clean that? It’s fascinating and I don’t have the answer yet.” Yet for Studio Roosegaarde it’s not a case of waiting for commissions to come in. Roosegaarde reveals, “I follow my own obsessions. I think that’s the most important thing. Sometimes we get questions from governments, entrepreneurs, or the art world, and sometimes we ask ourselves questions. For example, the smog free project (the world’s largest outdoor air purifier, which turns smog into jewellery) was a self-commissioned project that we initiated. I financed it for the first year.” So, looking ahead, what does Daan Roosegaarde believe will help to advance design thinking? He replies, “Part of it is finding leaders who want to invest in new ideas, and part of it is that we keep on investing in our own ideas as well. People say, ‘it cannot be done. Why are you doing this?’,” he laughs. “Then once we’ve finally done it, people say ‘that’s a good idea, why didn’t you do it before?’ That’s the sort of ungrateful phase of innovation we are in. If we don’t invest in new ideas, we die, we drown – it’s very simple.”

We need to upgrade reality. It’s very simple

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Executive Issue 19

21/02/2018 12:11

Reach New Heights in Display Innovations BenQ, Global Leader in Business Displays

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Executive Issue 22


CLOSE TO THE EDGE By Michael Burns “Today, millennials represent the largest single population that has ever existed. In seven years they will represent nearly 80 per cent of the adult workforce. Retaining these valued millennials will be any companies biggest challenge; indeed, their survival depends on it.” These words provided food for thought for those attending Kevin P. Flanagan’s keynote address to ISE’s Smart Building Conference, entitled ‘Meeting Places: the APIs of the Working Community’. Luckily, Flanagan had brought a solution as dessert, in the form of a case study of one of the world’s most sustainable and innovative office concepts. As partner of design at PLP Architecture in London, Flanagan is probably best known for his awardwinning corporate HQ designs, now including The Edge in Amsterdam, built by OVG for Deloitte. It has been referred to as a ‘sticky’ first-generation, 21st century example of IoT. “We feel that The Edge is a disrupter; it clearly illustrates that 21st century office design has

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arrived,” says Flanagan, who has recently been elevated as a Fellow of The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. “A more informal fleetfooted adaptive design, it’s truer to the needs of a millennial workforce who crave the openness and a sense of freedom not offered by assigned office seating. “This new millennial tribe demand more to make their work lives ‘happier’ and social experiences more meaningful and productive,” he continues. “Notions of wellbeing, environmental control, individual air quality and lighting, and open windows are now to be expected.” Because it understands individual users’ requirements and external factors such as the weather, the building can suggest that people work where they will be most comfortable – in north-facing spaces on a hot day for example – minimising the need for mechanical intervention such as closing blinds or ramping up the aircon. “Critically the open central atrium has a sense of freedom, of being unbounded, a place that is naturally lit with direct access to external gardens, open to views of nature, the city and the sea beyond,” says Flanagan, describing the building’s

central shared space. The Edge is Flanagan’s third courtyardinspired project in The Netherlands; the others are The Provinciehuis for the Provincial Parliament Building in South Holland, and The De Hoftoren, for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, both in The Hague. Both focus on sustainability, integrating parkland and nature, and with courtyards as social spaces at their heart.

DESIGN FOR LIFE The Edge has seen global recognition, with published design attributions now found as far away as Japan. Developer OVG has just announced 50 more ‘Edges’ to be realised in Europe and America. Flanagan is adamant that the concept offers corporates a smart way to surf the millennial wave. “The Edge is the first showcase building designed to be in tune with the needs and desires of impactful and emerging millennials, considered the drivers of the future economy of ideas” argues Flanagan. “It has a 2.5 times greater rate of employee retention of its workforce, while it is a healthier environment, with a 45 per cent reduction in sickness absence.

Architecture can be a provocation for positive change

The environment of expanded choices extends users’ capabilities and opportunities for learning and sharing, and makes these young savvy users more dynamic, more collaborative, and happier. “Trending away from the ‘silo’ [thinking] of earlier dedicated building apps of three years past, newer apps embed personalised work environment habits and collegial contacts,” he points out. “[it ties into] a trend for greater freedom of use that leverages greater access to shared knowledge, and is linking these to ever-broadening global work relationships. It’s a global shared work platform that would benefit, no doubt, from a multitude of ‘Edges’. “Architecture can be a provocation for positive change, the goal being to make people smarter; it involves better environments, smarter cities, and buildings like The Edge” concludes Flanagan. “We await the promises of 5G technology and the evergreater influence of millennials in transforming the design of our cities, and its buildings.”

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Executive Issue 23

Kevin P. Flanagan, AIA, FRAIC Senior Partner at PLP Architecture

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Executive Issue 24


We have to find more partners to bring 3D audio into the market

Tom Ammermann

Founder & General Manager, New Audio Technology

By Steve Fairclough So far 2018 has been a great year for Tom Ammermann with his 3D audio work on legendary German electronic band Kraftwerk’s album 3-D The Catalogue helping it to get two Grammy nominations, with one win in the ‘Best Dance/Electronic Album’ category. Ammermann founded his company, New Audio Technology, in 2012 and has since established it as a leader in providing the tools and technology for the fields of 3D audio, Headphone Surround 3D, spatial and immersive audio. His presentation at ISE 2018 delivered an overview of 3D audio and VR audio, what kind of applications it has in the recording industry, how to create it, the formats and their pros and cons. Ammermann believes that 3D audio will be a key area for future ISE attendees. “I’m 100 per cent sure that we will see it more and more in ISE exhibitions and

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conferences over the next years. You can see Dolby is there [in the market], Fraunhofer is there, everybody is showing 3D audio technology. Also, everybody is using headphones in the industry and there are a lot of advantages to using spatial binaural audio for headphones.”

HEAD SPACE New Audio Technology has developed Headphone Surround 3D. “If we talk about VR audio we always talk about spatial audio, so binaural audio, for headphones and this is what’s behind Headphone Surround 3D,” Ammermann explains. “What is special in our technology is you have a lot of parameters that you can use. We have generic HRTFs (headrelated transfer functions), which means that this virtualisation works for many people right away – you just use some parameters to tune it and, differently to other competitors, we have had response from paying

customers for a long time. This makes us very sure that we are on the right path.” He sees other applications for 3D and VR audio for binaural headphone virtualisation, such as in-flight audio, and also for intercoms, so that in a conference situation you will know exactly who is speaking. “The speech intelligibility becomes much better with spatial audio,” he adds.

MIXING IT UP The production work that Ammermann did with Kraftwerk not only gained him a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Surround Sound Album’ but also helped to validate his work in 3D audio. He explains, “The main challenge is to convince people [about it]. Kraftwerk is a standard, a major act, that has always pioneered new technology, so [people] have to listen – they can’t say nobody is interested in it. There are artists, a lot of record companies and end users

who buy these products, so I can show that there is an application, how we did it, which tools you need – and that it isn’t difficult to create 3D audio. This should help to convince the AV industry to spend a little bit more energy in the 3D audio domain.” He is honest about what’s required to push 3D audio forward. “We have to find more large industry partners to bring 3D audio into the market. We are catering for a small, expert and early adopter market, but to bring it broadly to the whole market you need large, industry-leading partners like Nokia, Fraunhofer, Dolby and Sennheiser as partners and licensees. It’s not easy; currently everybody wants to do it by themselves, so I will wait until they maybe see the advantages of our approach and technology. We’ll use this time to evaluate our marked response of the last year to develop things that we believe everybody wants to have in the near future.”

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Executive Issue 25



Partner and Building Internet of Things Evangelist, byNubian

By Paul Bray ‘Smart building’ sounds so cool, so 21st century. But just how smart is a smart building? It’s a question that’s been exercising Rik Vereecken, partner and building internet of things evangelist at byNubian, and he’s been sharing his thoughts with showgoers at ISE’s CEDIA Smart Building Solutions Theatre, sponsored by KNX. “The two keywords for smart buildings are data and connectivity,” he says. “Buildings have become complex ecosystems with a growing number of sensors and things that perform services, communicate, can be controlled and generate data. But these things seldom work together and use many incompatible protocols, so how do we know they’re performing properly?” Hence the somewhat elliptical title of Vereecken’s ISE pitch at the CEDIA Smart Building Solutions Theatre: ‘Does a KNX building speak IoT?’ The answer is perhaps not yet, but there’s hope for the future. “I definitely think one of the new technology trends ISE showgoers should be watching is the

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‘integration of things’,” he says. “The leading bus systems such as KNX and BACnet are evolving towards open systems.” The compatibility issue compounds a more fundamental problem, Vereecken believes. “All the ‘things’ in a building are seldom measured on actual efficiency. Currently, too many technical charts showing purely theoretical performance are used. In reality, you need to connect all these things, collect their data in a secure way, and give that data back to the building’s users in such a way that they can easily understand the building’s behaviour.” The numbers can come as a bit of a shock. “After commissioning, the actual energy consumption of buildings is up to 25 per cent higher than expected, and there are many user comfort issues,” Vereecken explains. “Therefore, commissioning can’t be an end-point, it has to be part of a continuous improvement process.” Again, the answer is all about data and connectivity. “Thanks to predictive management and predictive analytics, real figures can

Smart buildings can learn from each other and connect to each other. The outcome? An intelligent system

be offered for technical installations in situ,” says Vereecken. “When engineers use real figures in their studies they can show realistic energy levels. In most cases this will lead to a significant reduction of the energy consumption in a building. And above all, the budgeted and real standards will match.” Getting it right is vital for all of us, Vereecken believes. “Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of all our energy consumption,” he says. “Smart buildings can learn from each other and connect to each other. The outcome? An intelligent system that makes a city more liveable, more economically competitive and more sustainable.” Vereecken’s own work focuses on providing the necessary data. “You need to integrate all building devices (KNX, Modbus, BACnet, LoRaWan) so you can analyse their

behaviour and transform your building and operational data into real value, both ecological and financial,” he says. “Then you can create a true ‘Building Internet of Your Things’. We’ve been working with the Dutch energy company Powerhouse to help companies in their bid process for buying or selling energy directly from and to the market at the most favourable rates,” he adds. “We’ve learned that intermediate energy storage can be an essential tool to keep power fluctuations on the grid within manageable limits. As feed-in tariffs are decreasing, the business case for an energy storage system that increases consumption of energy generated on the premises becomes more solid every day.” And did ISE generate some enthusiasm in Vereecken? “Great vibe during my stay,” he grins. “I’ll be back!”

21/02/2018 12:18

Executive Issue 26


Ennio Prase

CEO, Prase Media Technologies We’ll be seeing radical changes and many of the typical AV companies will have to go

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS By Heather McLean With over two decades of experience in the Italian market, Prase Engineering is a distributor of products for audiovisual systems in the professional field. The business was bought to life by the Prase brothers and their own experience working in the design and construction of systems for theatres, conference rooms and the entertainment sector. We found that Ennio Prase, CEO at the front facing brand of the business, Prase Media Technologies, was very keen at ISE to talk about market challenges, and the threat and opportunities offered by shifting technology trends. “The convergence between pro audio video control (AVC) and IT is definitely ongoing in Europe, though at a slower pace in Italy,” Prase says, yet states that IT companies are also having a detrimental effect on the traditional AV market. Some of the key IT players are swallowing the business of previously AV-only integrators –and I believe this will be the common trend for a while going

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forward. IT operators have a major advantage over the AV firms, as they contemplate a completely different business model, more focused on their service offerings than only relying on the finished product’s margin.” Prase observes the IT integrators and distributors are acquiring smaller AV companies to get specific assets in terms of knowledge base and experience. However from the other side, AV integrators and distributors are hiring qualified IT personnel to expand their offering towards network infrastructure – trying to counter the IT tsunami by becoming part of it. “This should result with us having much bigger companies, with a broader offering in terms of products and services on the same silver plate,” Prase says. “Unfortunately, we’ll be seeing radical changes and many of the typical AV companies will have to go, but this follows in the nature of a market that wants more of a ‘one stop shop’.”

NETWORK PROTOCOL Going forward, Prase says there a number of trends and technologies

that he expects to be big for his sector in 2018. “By now the network is definitely king in our industry; not being part of it is just like not being part of the AV-IT community. On top of that, what we see happening is a harmonisation of the protocols and standards to unify interoperability. This will then translate into more geographically decentralised systems that are still fully integrated; we see displays being smarter every day and telling you what to watch, speakers self-adjusting to the room they’re in, microphones recognising their user’s position, and projectors following teachers gesturing. In the end all these devices have to talk to each other in an easy-to-comprehend language. This will be the revolution.” There’s still time to get on board, according to Prase. “I would suggest to anyone in this industry to look more at those technologies that can be part of a common environment [network] rather than the specific device; the technologies giving you an experience that’s part of an overall solution, and not just a fully-featured box on its own.”

ISE: A SHOW OF FORCE Prase is a member of the Italian Systems Integration Experience Community (SIEC), and feels special interest groups like this help to make the ISE show a better experience and a more valuable investment of time for both attendees and exhibitors. “SIEC has the scope to elevate the market knowledge base between manufacturers, integrators, designers and the different technologies,” he says. “Our challenge is to improve the interaction between the AV-IT industry and architects and interior designers. As those professionals are also the decision makers for many of our solutions, this year SIEC and ISE have cooperated on taking a selected group of architects and interior designers to Amsterdam for the Smart Building Conference and the ISE show, with the goal to ease the interaction between AV and architecture professionals. “In an ideal world, we should all sit at the same table and design jointly, to reach a perfect integration blending functionality, performance and appearance,” concludes Prase.

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Executive Issue 28


John Melillo

President, Digital Media Group, Diversified

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Executive Issue 29

Customers are driving the need … for a single partner that has both the breadth of a wide solution set and a deep bench of technical expertise

TREND SPOTTING By Ian McMurray ISE has long been the event at which the industry can find out about the technologies that will transform the future. Less well recognised, but no less valuable, is the opportunity the show provides to learn more about the dynamics of the market, and what those will mean. A case in point is the Digital Signage Summit. This year, two sessions focused on consolidation in the industry, and John Melillo contributed to both. Melillo heads up Digital Media Group, one of ten Diversified divisions, each with its own specialisation, and acknowledges that his organisation is likely to be not widely known to the integrators walking the halls of the RAI. He is, however, extremely well placed to provide insight into the topic of consolidation, not least because Diversified, with its 1,500 employees and $600 million-plus of revenue, has grown both organically and through acquisition. “There will always be a myriad of business drivers behind consolidation in our industry,”

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he says. “In general, I see it as part of the enormous technological innovation in our part of the integration business. “Customers,” he continues, noting the increasingly complex requirements of digital signage users, “are driving the demand for allencompassing solutions. Basically, customers are driving the need – or, more accurately, the demand – for a single partner that has both the breadth of a wide solution set and a deep bench of technical expertise.”

DELIGHTED There’s little doubt that Melillo is delighted by what he sees going on in the market: innovation combined with cost-effectiveness and greater stability; digital signage moving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’; and customers becoming increasingly knowledgeable, testing potential suppliers like Digital Media Group to their limits. But: is there anything that concerns him? It seems that the digital signage business could be said to have become a victim of its own success, with what Melillo describes as a “flood” of new entrants into the market. “Don’t get me wrong,” he says. “We’re absolutely not opposed to new and innovative technologies. On the contrary: innovation is our life-

blood. But too many of these new entrants, especially on the software side, are bringing nothing new to the market. Yes, their prices are usually extremely competitive but their support and service is not. It ends up being the technology company left holding the bag”. In fact, Melillo is a proponent of what small companies can bring to the table – if they bring something new. “My advice to anyone visiting ISE would be to wear good walking shoes,” he laughs. “The ISE show is so large that it’s likely be overwhelming for many people, especially if you’re a newcomer. Personally, I tried to get to the smaller booths to find the companies that are fighting to be heard. Often, the newest and most innovative technologies don’t come from the big guys in the industry. Our job in the digital signage business is to identify the trends in the market and bring these to our customers.”

ENTHUSIASM Evidence of Melillo’s high regard for new technologies can be clearly found in his enthusiasm for areas such as XR (which combines VR, AR and MR) and AI. “They’re all part of the new frontier for the digital signage business,” he believes. “They could be game

changers in our business. At Digital Media Group, we have a dedicated emerging technology team that researches, analyses, tests, pilots and is the leadership for deploying new technologies for our customers. “As industry analysts have been saying for quite some time,” he goes on, “digital signage is not just a flat panel or a wall of panels. It’s now part of a business and technology ecosystem of engagement that uses technology to speak to customers and audiences of various types to influence their perception of a brand or the actions they’re about to take. “All of the trends in the market, particularly in the incredible advances in screen technology, lead me to believe that digital signage will be ubiquitous in our daily life in a relatively short amount of time,” Melillo concludes. “OLED, E-Ink, system-on-chip, AI and others all point to a future where we are continually and persistently interacting with screen technologies from the moment we wake up to the time we put our heads down at the end of the day.” Whether you view such a future as a utopian vision or a dystopian one depends, of course, on your point of view. For the many at ISE who are in the digital signage business, it’s highly likely to be the former.

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Executive Issue 30


The real-time information that visual communications can deliver has the potential to boost efficiency and deliver productivity gains

Joe Rabah

Managing Director EMEA, RMG Networks

SIGN LANGUAGE By Paul Bray Organisations need to think big if they want to achieve the best possible communication with and between their staff. That was the message that Joe Rabah, managing director EMEA at RMG Networks, brought to ISE this year. “We’re in no way bound to a single application or technology for all communications needs,” Rabah says. “Instead we’re integrating a medley of communication applications such as email, presence/ proximity, IPTV, digital signage and corporate communication into a single interface.” Rabah delivered a session on ‘The Connected Experience’ at ISE’s AVIXA Unified Communications Solutions Theatre, sponsored by Crestron. “I wanted to open people’s minds to the opportunities that come with leading unified communications (UC) technology, and the significant results it can deliver when teamed with smart visual communications and digital signage solutions, by providing people with the information

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and insights they need to make more informed decisions,” he explains. “The real-time information that visual communications can deliver has the potential to boost efficiency and deliver productivity gains.” Mentioning UC and digital signage in the same breath may be unfamiliar to some, but Rabah insists that they are not mutually exclusive. “You can’t help but hear the two intertwined when discussing the opportunities to enhance corporate communications, whether it’s on the factory floor or in call centre or retail environments. With recent shifts in the digital signage industry we’re seeing digital signage companies take on the role of an ‘omnichannel’ communication interface. This shift is increasing the role of digital signage from being a part or component of UC to being the sole vehicle for communication in all UC components.”

given me great insight into the value of digital signage in emergency messaging, especially within the oil and gas industry,” explains Rabah. “In a crisis situation digital signage can literally save lives. For example, when a fire alarm goes off in an office building employees can see the screens on their computers flashing emergency instructions in a clear, concise and directional manner. Emergency messaging on screens in halls and near elevators clearly communicates the best and fastest exit details. Emergency procedure messaging is also pushed to employees’ mobile devices, which is highly effective as the technology knows who’s inside the building and their approximate location, allowing them to take faster and better routes to safety. This is directly integrated into building management systems so messages are only communicated to zones affected by the emergency.”

VITAL SIGNS “I’ve only recently taken on my new role in EMEA, but my previous engagement in the Middle East has

CLOUD COMMUNICATIONS Rabah advises organisations to consider the emerging cloud and

SaaS (software as a service) delivery models for UC. “There are clear indications that our sector is shifting to the cloud and SaaS, not just to reduce cost but to provide secure, robust and scalable solutions for UC and digital signage. Traditional, non-real-time communication methods such as email are taking a back seat to more instant, semi-real-time messaging solutions. The success of a good UC deployment is highly dependent on the components it currently supports, the ability to shelve some of the legacy components that are no longer needed, and future proofing its ability to support new technology as the system and business requirements evolve,” he adds. Sometimes, however, there’s no substitute for seeing things and people in the flesh. “This was my fourth year at ISE, and I always expect to see some of the most unique and amazing products being announced or coming to market,” says Rabah. “I also really enjoy the opportunity to have deeper discussions with prospective clients.”

21/02/2018 12:53

Executive Issue 31


What used to be solely the domain of projection has been encroached upon by LED, and vice versa

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE By Paul Bray If AV technology gets any more exciting, Tom Burch is going to have to consider changing the name of his company. He’s managing director of creative and production studio Projection Artworks, but increasingly projection is only one of the arrows in his quiver. “The line between the competing display technologies is getting increasingly blurred,” he explains. “What used to be solely the domain of projection has been encroached on by LED, and vice versa. Where screens used to be flat we now see emerging flexible screen technologies. We’ve always been best known for our projection, but more commonly now we’re designing experiences using all types of pixel-based technology.”

DIGITAL NATIVES This revolution was at the core of Burch’s ISE presentation, entitled ‘Creating Digital Experiences and Being Technology Agnostic’.

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“All too often brands approach an idea with the final execution in mind,” he says. “As the lines between technologies become ever more blurred it’s time to take a step back and ask more human questions, such as how you want your audience to feel, and then leave the technology that underpins the final execution to specialists.” Burch illustrated his talk with Projection Artworks’ latest innovations in digital experiences. These included the first curved OLED rental product at the World Economic Forum in Davos, featuring emotional tracking technology to empirically analyse users’ reaction to content and stories as they digested them, and a first-of-its-kind, pixelmapped volumetric display run using disguise (formerly known as d3). According to Burch, 2017 was a “massive year” for Projection Artworks. “On the events side, a highlight was our huge launch for the Samsung S8, using a massive LED screen framed in an infinity mirror box. More than 400 lights, lasers and

hazers took over ITV and Channel 4 for a 90-second TV spot, all filmed and streamed live by us. “On the installations side, the highlight was our own internal showroom that we created alongside the rest of our immersive demo facilities. There aren’t enough places to see LG’s curved OLED in London (in fact there weren’t any), and there was nowhere to see interactive content designed purely for OLED. “Our end result is a curved OLED screen controlled by gesture tracking technology, all finished in curved, piano-black panels for completely seamless integration,” he adds. “Around the rest of the room we installed one-of-a-kind LED sculptures.”

RETAIL THERAPY Burch also took part in ISE’s AV Magazine panel debate, ‘Reinvigorating the Retail Environment’. “I must admit I shudder slightly at the phrase ‘AV in retail’,” he confesses. “That may be unfair, but it conjures images

Tom Burch

Managing Director, Projection Artworks

of poorly installed flat screen TVs dotted around stores with TV ads or other above-the-line content looping continuously on them, often interspersed by pop-ups or input feeds, as people use built-in USB players to cycle their inappropriate content. But whether it’s ‘AV’ or digital experience, retail has got its work cut out. The next generation of retail stores are appearing on the high street with new and demanding consumers to please: savvy, costcomparing shoppers who want to be entertained and immersed, not just have produce stacked in front of them or sold to them.” And was ‘savvy shopper’ Burch entertained and immersed at ISE this year? “ISE is my spiritual home of technology!” he enthuses. “I like to get behind the scenes, into the ‘product development’ suites and see a glimpse into the future. Many installations are planned well in advance and it’s critical to our value proposition that we know what’s coming, what’s worth waiting for, and what’s not.”

21/02/2018 12:53

Executive Issue 32


Bluetooth mesh perfectly matches the concepts of the Internet of Things and the information-centric network

BUILDING THE IoT By Paul Bray Smart buildings have been promising to improve our lives for more than a decade. But 2018 could be the year the concept actually goes mainstream, believes Szymon Slupik, chief technology officer of smart lighting specialist Silvair. “The concept of the smart building is far-reaching, and its implementation influences standards of living on many levels, and we’re now at a point when technologies are mature enough to be applicable on a broad scale,” he says.

BUIDLING BLOCKS Smart buildings are all about creating an Internet of Things (IoT), and linking them all together will require a scalable, flexible and open networking technology. Slupik believes he knows the ideal candidate, as he explained in his session at the Smart Building Conference at ISE, which he entitled ‘Bluetooth Mesh:

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Information Centric Network for Smart Buildings’. “Mesh is the third revolution by Bluetooth,” Slupik explains. “The first was 20 years ago when Bluetooth Classic was introduced to work as a point-topoint cable replacement, mainly for personal audio products. The second was in 2010 when Bluetooth Low Energy was adopted into the Bluetooth 4 specification. It enabled a plethora of low power accessory products – mice, keyboards and so on – as well as products implementing pointto-multipoint topology, used by beacons or asset tags. “However, for hundreds of objects to interact with each other over long distances and to eventually provide multiple functionalities, we require a different communication model,” he adds. “This is where Bluetooth mesh comes along, a technology that shares features of all the previous Bluetooth versions plus a completely new, highly scalable, peer-to-peer networking topology.

“Mesh allows you to create networks consisting of many connected devices, called nodes, that are aware of one another. The mesh nodes can send and receive information and apply that data to perform specific tasks. As of last year, Bluetooth mesh became an official open standard. It delivers unmatched scalability, highlevel security, cross-vendor interoperability, and reliability that other wireless protocols can’t provide. Bluetooth mesh perfectly matches the concepts of the Internet of Things and the information-centric network.”

ON THE GRID Few people are better qualified to talk about mesh than Slupik. He is chair of the mesh working group at the Bluetooth SIG and has been the leading contributor and author of the mesh model specification. He shared his insights at ISE, explaining how Bluetooth mesh implements

Szymon Slupik

Chief Technology Officer, Silvair

the information-centric networking paradigm to radically simplify smart building implementations. He also discussed the challenges of traditional network topologies, comparing these to the architecture of Bluetooth mesh, and highlighted key elements of mesh which will make it successful in professional applications. “I’m deeply satisfied with the mesh specification,” he says. “It’s very solid. Now the main challenge is to educate the market and provide companies with a solid groundwork for future IoT applications.” This was Slupik’s second time as a speaker at ISE. “I really enjoy doing it,” he says. “The level of debate is very high, and with every session I get many fresh ideas, some of which we’re considering when developing Silvair’s lighting control technologies. Interdisciplinarity is one of the most important characteristics of ISE, and I’m looking forward to coming back in future years.

21/02/2018 12:29

Executive Issue 33


After so many years of waiting, technology has improved to the point where XR and 3D is beginning to become a reality

CREATING SOLUTIONS By Elliot Herman AV-Fachsymposium – one of ISE’s longest running programmes – is organised in cooperation with AVSolution Partner, the largest co-op of independent AV system houses and system integrators in the Germanspeaking countries. The two-day, annual event provides a platform for those interested in media technologies, and attendees include architects, interior designers, facility managers, AV/IT decision makers in public and non-public organisations, as well as building owners. As a media technology network, AV-Solution Partner comprises 14 member companies located at 21 locations in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It offers integrated solutions for all fields of application of AV media technologies; from comprehensive professional consulting, conceptualisation and planning of sophisticated projects, through to implementation, service,

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maintenance, and support. At ISE, executive board member Andreas Promny was keen to explain how the registered charity helps its members, and offer some advice for future visitors to ISE “The ISE has long been the premier event for pro AV integrators, and AV-Solution Partner’s annual symposium [at ISE] welcomed some 140 invited guests,” says Promny, who is also the managing director of Aachen-based AK Media. “The idea was that delegates would not only be able to listen to presentations but could also network and share ideas. “The event was aimed at architects, facility managers, project managers, AV and IT managers across the public and private sector.”

INDULGING IN INNOVATION The symposium focused on communication, he says, with case studies, trade stand tours – including visits to beyerdynamic, Canon, Crestron, Epson, NEC and

Andreas Promny

Managing Director AK Media, Executive Board Member, AV-Solution Partner

Panasonic – and a major event in the evening. “New technology trends included high definition frameless image displays – displays with no discernible borders, and LED walls without visible pixels – along with improvements in AV collaboration. Interactive boards are improving all the time, and so I think we’re going to see more UC [unified communication] in use for meeting points.” Symposium subjects focused on content and display solutions, networked audio technology, and a close look at the medical technology and IT network recently installed at the University Hospital Jena, with the assistance of AVSolution Partners. “After so many years of waiting, technology has improved to the point where XR [cross reality] and 3D is beginning to become a reality,” says Promny. “Finally, devices are small enough and powerful enough to allow this to happen.”

SHOW DIVERSITY Even as an industry expert, Promny acknowledges that the ISE show can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. He says that networking is key: “Before visiting a trade show as large as this, I’d recommend reading the magazines in advance and talking to industry influencers and experts you’re in touch with. This will help you to see the most important and interesting themes and trends. Of course, special exhibitions, tours and lectures also play a vital role, and, added together, visitors should be able to get an idea of the up and coming technologies.” Promny says that the keystone to the show’s success is its variety. “Visitors can see current trends, exchange views, find new and updated product information, network on their stand and in the wide range of events the show has to offer. Where and how else could you do that so successfully?”

21/02/2018 12:29

Executive Issue 34


ISE has seen a spectacular increase in the variety of applications


Joost Demarest CTO and CFO, KNX Association

By Elliot Herman As the cost of integrating smart technology into a building becomes more affordable, ever more products conform to the KNX interoperability standard. But the association has been around for longer than many people think; CTO and CFO Joost Demarest has been with the organisation since 1992, just two years after it was founded. “At that time,” he says, “the association was still called EIBA (European Installation Bus Association); I started as KNX Certification Assistant.” After rising through the ranks, and after several organisation mergers and changes, he was appointed both CTO and CFO of KNX in 2006. His role as CTO includes responsibility for the upkeep and update of the KNX Standard – the basis for the development of KNX

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devices by the manufacturer – and the KNX certification schemes for products, training centres, test labs and individuals. The work on the standard also includes bringing it to the level of international standardisation at CENELEC, ISO and IEC.

ACCESSIBLE SOLUTIONS “Smart home reliability and interoperability are sadly not guaranteed,” states Demarest. “Many solutions are available that cover just a single use, and many depend on internet or cloud services to work, and customised software integrations can break with every software update. And that’s before we’ve even started on continued security! “This is where KNX comes in; we help technology to adapt, and we were showing how we do that on our Hall 9 stand. As a worldwide

standard for smart homes and buildings, KNX is used by more than 400 KNX members, and is having more and more functionality added to the Internet of Things. We have an unrivalled track record when it comes to interoperability and longtime reliability.” With KNX IoT, KNX wants to make the system more accessible for IT specialists. Demarest says it adds ‘rich semantics’ on top of KNX Classic, moving towards a KNX system that uses omnipresent wired and wireless IPv6 compatible networks to communicate between KNX devices.

PROFESSIONAL HELP Also in the frame for installers is ETS Inside. Launched in the middle of last year, Demarest calls it, “the answer to the need of newcomers to be able to design and commission small scale KNX installations, with

an intuitive tool user interface and on mobile devices, without much prior training.” He continues, “For the first time, the ETS project file can be left on site in a device, or a mini-PC remaining in the installation, always ready for further extensions. A forthcoming update will offer the possibility to synchronise data with the ETS Professional, allowing a homeowner to fine-tune parameters of the installation.” No fewer than 30 KNX members were exhibiting at ISE, with some 15 KNX members at the KNX stand. “For the first time, KNX also set up a second stand, where KNX training was offered, and KNX IoT solutions demonstrated,” says Demarest, adding that ISE has seen “a spectacular increase” in the variety of applications in use. “Every year,” he adds, “more and more KNX members report an interest in joining us at the show.”

21/02/2018 12:32

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21/02/2018 07:12:55





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20/02/2018 13:57:53

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