The Visualist Blog

InfoComm 2011 – Thoughts from the Show

Thoughts from the Show

While the team here at Mersive is still a little exhausted from all the work involved with InfoComm last week, we’re also re-energized.  That was our best tradeshow yet.  Mersive’s software really shines when it is combined with hardware systems into complete products.  So a huge thank you to our partners DeltaImmersive Display Solutions and Planar for lending their Sol powered products to our booth. (view video)

While of course I’m proud of how our booth went, what I really want to blog about today are the lessons I feel I gained at the show.  Every year I walk the InfoComm floor and try to get a sense of general directions and how close we are getting to the vision of widely accessible, easy-to-use, and low-cost displays that drew me into this field in the first place. 

Thoughts from the Show

Here are my top-of-mind thoughts that I walked away with:

1. Interactive displays are here – but “whiteboards” aren’t the endgame

Interactive whiteboards are a major driver in a growing segment of the mass market — education. Clearly the low-cost interactive whiteboard is in widespread use, new models of interaction may surpass the touch pen and tracked board.  Technologies to watch include – projectors with built-in interactivity combined with a pen don’t require a special board (i.e. the new Hitachi ultra short throw, interactive projector ). 

Perhaps the most compelling interactive technology was only shown in a private suite to a limited audience.  I can’t provide details except to say that interaction between arbitrary mobile devices and display infrastructure is on the way.

2. Projection systems are being re-invented through clustering 

Although the traditional single projector, conference room projector is a dying breed (market reports show that is a stagnant market at best), a new class of business displays built on the projector platform is taking off.  By clustering commodity projectors into new products, driven by powerful intelligent software, the physical barriers can be overcome to achieve the performance increases and simultaneous price drops that have become standard in chips and data storage over time.

3. Pico is AWOL 

When picos were introduced with a big splash at InfoComm 2008 by Optoma and others, I, and a slew of other people in the industry immediately saw the potential of combining ultra-small projection engines with mobile devices.  I have to say, three years later, I am less than impressed by the progress.  We are beginning to explore how our software can be used to cluster the very small with a few partners, but the brightest pico platform still requires controlled lighting (hardly something you find when you are on the go with a mobile device), and power/heat remain major obstacles.  Although there is significant hope for a mobile super-phone/pico combo, it may be more than a year before we see truly viable prototypes.

4. The pressure for cool, high-brightness illumination sources is on

A major challenge to delivering multi-projector displays are stable, low-power, small, and easy to cool illumination sources for the smaller projector form-factors. 

I am hoping that continued work from LED makers (Luminus and Modulight) and other manufacturers will help answer the call and they seem to have made great strides in color gamut production at low illumination levels.  Hybrid illumination that combines LEDs with advances in laser-based illumination seems to be getting plenty of attention and, from what I know, promises to deliver solid state-stable illumination for well over 15,000 hours.  Kudos to the Casio engineers for popularizing an approach that may make the pico platform possible.

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