5 Things I’m Looking Forward to at ISE 2016

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) offers several unique opportunities for U.S. integrators to see more international products, check out commercial and residential products side by side, and network with peers over a four-day-long event.

Tim Albright

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2016 is the bringing together of InfoComm International and CEDIA. The once-a-year combination is like Wonder Twins' power activated in the grand city of Amsterdam. It's chocolate and peanut butter all over again. It’s a sight and sound explosion on a scale that is unmatched in the audio visual community.

As we get ready to explore all that residential and commercial A/V has to offer there are a number of things I could say that were on my To Do list. Here are the top five.

Networked A/V

We are pushing the physical boundaries of the current infrastructure in A/V. The copper and twisted pair solution is not able to withstand what will be coming at it as we, as an industry, try for bigger resolutions (think 8K onward). One of the things I am looking for and forward to is to see who has a solution worth taking home. There are some wicked smart people in this industry and there are a number that have started down this path. The real question is whether or not those solutions are ready for market.

The other aspect of networked A/V is security. This is, of course, a subject that has been brought to light recently with the AMX backdoor story. Though this is bigger than that one manufacturer. As an industry we have relied upon defense in depth strategies for network security. Our devices were kept separate from the client’s network either from the lack of network ports, a separate network, or VLANs. This has started to shift the last few years and we need to be concerned with the security of the end users’ network from manufacturer down. As such, I am looking forward to seeing what options are out there currently and what companies are working on.

Dr. Michio Kaku

Part of the ISE FRDY events will be a closing keynote address by futurist and theorist, Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku is one of those rare scientists who has become a cultural and pop icon. Appearing in commercials, television shows, and on the New York Times best sellers list. His talk happens at 9 a.m. local time on Friday. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kaku to preview his speech. He is very bullish on the interactiveness of technology. The futurist part of him is looking to the day when you will have a computer in your contact lens or other wearable.

These devices will interact with displays embedded in wallpaper and other surfaces throughout the home. All of this will tie together to the Internet. He calls it the “Internet is everywhere and nowhere.” In much the same way as most of us don’t really “see” electricity and the way it works any longer, this is how the Internet of the future will be. If he’s right, it will be an exciting time in A/V as we are able to truly integrate systems in homes and in businesses.

That 4th Day

I mentioned the FRDY events at ISE this year. The show has a number of events scheduled for Friday of the show. You can have coffee with CEOs, visit one of the theaters on unified communications, or play Candy Crush on an oversized tablet. The events are not really what I am talking about. This year, ISE will be four days long. Oh, big deal you say? Frequent feedback from attendees to the InfoComm show has been to extend it to a fourth day. There are varying reason why they have not; from vendor feedback to cost of such a move. This year’s ISE will be an interesting test bed to see if a fourth day works.

International A/V

There are a number of companies on display that are not available yet in the U.S. This could be from a lack of distribution, market saturation in their space, or the taxes and tariffs the United States government puts on products from their home country. Regardless of the reason, there are products out there you, as a state side integrator, will not have seen yet. I will be on the search for those products that have not been introduced to us in North America yet and find out why not, and when they expect to.

One of the new additions to the show is M2D, or manufacturer to distributor, kiosks. These will be setup throughout the halls and are connection points for companies who are looking to break into a country to connect with potential distributors for their product. The manufacturers listed there will indicate which country they have interest in getting into. If you are a distributor, or would like to become one, you can contact the representative of the manufacturer, make an appointment at the booth and get a deal done all before the end of that fourth day. Deals get done every day on the show floor.

This is another way ISE is bringing value to those who exhibit here; by helping them expand and grow their business. Yes, there may be serendipitous moments where two people are sitting next to each other at a bar, strike up a conversation, and work out a deal for distribution of one’s product to another’s country. This way is a bit more scientific than that and allows for a possible better connection. Think of it as a dating service for distributors and manufacturers.

The Networking

One of the main reasons I attend trade shows is to meet people face to face. Over the years it has been great to make friends and acquaintances who share the same passion and fervor for this great industry. At ISE there are networking events on and off the show floor from the very first day. If you are not quite sure where they are or when then download the ISE app. Not only does it give you a list of events going on and when it is a networking tool in and of itself.

This version of the ISE app debuted at last year’s show. There is a social component to it that is unlike anything I have seen yet. You are able to connect with others attending the show, get points for visiting booths or panels, and win prizes on a daily basis. Attendees continue to use the app throughout the year to keep in touch with those they have met at the show and share in their knowledge.

There is so much to do and see at ISE 2016. With four days, twelve halls, and over 60,000 attendees it is a lot to take in. It is also one of the most exciting times in the world of A/V all year. As we all gear up my advice is to take it slow, stay hydrated, and enjoy yourself.  

Tim Albright is editor of AV Nation and a contributor to CE Pro.