InfoComm 08: Where the Pros Are

For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof?a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years. 6/04/2008 4:59 AM Eastern

InfoComm 08: Where the Pros Are

For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof?a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years.

Credit: Courtesy InfoComm International

ON A WARM, SPRING AFTERNOON AT InfoComm International headquarters near Washington, D.C., executive director Randy Lemke doesn't seem like a guy staring down the barrel of the largest InfoComm trade show ever.

Even though preparations are still ongoing when he sits down to talk to PRO AV, Lemke calmly ticks off the ways in which InfoComm 08, this month in Las Vegas, will benefit the community of AV professionals.

“From all early indications, from the reaction by exhibitors and the number of registered attendees, their dreams have come true,” Lemke says. “We will provide our attendees greater value because they don't have to go to two shows.”

Ah yes, there's that. For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof—a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years.

According to Lemke, NSCA will “do everything they used to do,” including NSCA University seminars and workshops. There will also be an NSCA Electronic Systems Pavilion (Central Hall 5) where exhibitors that traditionally gravitated toward NSCA Expo in the past will set up shop. And NSCA members, plan on a members-only tour of the entire show floor Wednesday morning after your members' meeting.

“Having one trade show helps convey our message that we want to do our part to help improve the ROI for those who attend these events,” explains NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson in a separate conversation. “There will be so much to do and see. I think time management will be crucial for attendees, and I sure hope they bring enough staff to cover the event well.”

The main InfoComm exhibition runs just three days, June 18 to 20. But it's just the tip of the iceberg. For the estimated 32,000 attendees descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center, there's a solid week's worth of education, information, and networking.

Not the least of which is NXTcomm 2008, which takes over the convention center's South Hall (Info-Comm sprawls over the North and Central Halls). NXTcomm (formerly SuperComm) represents the “IT” in AV-IT convergence, focused on network-enabled voice and video. Executives from giants like AT&T and Verizon will speak, but if you only catch one session, sneak in to hear Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy speak on June 18—always an insightful, entertaining voice in IT.

Still, even if you stay all week, chances are you won't get to everything. So let us help you navigate the main subject areas of In InfoComm 08.

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InfoComm 08: Where the Pros Are

For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof?a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years.


Aside from incorporating NSCA Expo, this year's InfoComm represents a landmark of a different kind. It's the first trade sho show since the InfoComm Certified Technology Speci Specialist was recognized by the International Organiza Organization for Standardization (ISO) and American NationalNatio Standards Institute (ANSI) as an international standard.

Earning ISO/ANSI accr accreditation required considerable work. Training ha had to change, testing had to change. By Lemke's estim estimates, each question on the CST test costs $1,000 to create, after you factor in the various experts who design and analyze the questions for suitability (se (see “5-Minute Interview,” page 46, for more on CTS test changes). Therefore the process must be carefully controlled.

This year's InfoComm marks a couple of firsts for the ISO/ANSI-accredited program. Lemke says the association will introduce a study group to educate prospective candidates on the nuances of the new tests. And for those interested in taking the CTS exam at InfoComm, the venue will be a little different. To meet ISO/ANSI requirements, the exam must take place at a certified, off-site facility. Fortunately, Las Vegas offers such a site, operated Prometric, formerly owned by the Thomson Corp. and now a subsidiary of Educational Testing Service. Lemke expects about 100 candidates to take the exam at InfoComm, and says they'll be whisked to the facility in limousines.


One of the things InfoComm and NSCA are known for is real-world experience. The exhibits aren't just exhibits; several are immersive, hands-on destinations where pros can do more than hear about the latest products. There's something for everyone. Find what you're looking for here and on our must-see show map below.

1. Immersive Audio Experience

Where: Central Hall 5, Booth C5656

Fred Ampel, an AV consultant with Technology Visions and organizer of the Immersive Audio Experience calls this year's “version 2.0” an enhanced, expanded version of the experience that debuted in 2007. AV pros enter a pair of retail environments, one an ice bar and the other a “tragically hip clothing store,” as Ampel describes it. Each is filled with high-definition video programming and six-channel music to demonstrate how the integrated AV “immerses the patrons of the store in an environment that is wholly manipulated to keep them interested and entertained.”

2. AV Rack Systems Integration Challenge

Where: Central Hall 2, Booth C1755

How do you stack up against other AV pros? What can you learn from their best practices? Become a fly on the wall of other integrators' jobsites by checking out the latest edition of the Integration Challenge. Also in its second year, the challenge pits teams of three (engineer, installer, programmer) against each other as they create line drawings, install components, and program a fully functional AV rack system. Teams will have done design and programming two weeks prior to InfoComm, but they'll have 12 hours on the show floor, starting Wednesday, June 18, for final installation and testing, before a panel of CTS-Is and CTS-Ds pick a winner.

3. Digital Signage Application Showcase

Where: North Hall 3, Booth N7131

If you experienced Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas in February, word is you won't be disappointed in InfoComm's showcase. Designed to give integrators a firsthand look at digital signage applications in action, this showcase will reportedly feature about the same number of companies as the February trade show. There will be functional applications, plus a separate area where you can experience more futuristic applications, such as interactive digital signage (for more on navigating digital signage technology at InfoComm, see Data Links, page 114).

4. Audio Demo Rooms

Where: North Hall Meeting Rooms N101–N114

No one needs to tell you that you can't really experience the latest audio technology on a noisy show floor. So when you leave the North Hall, venture to the dedicated Audio Demo and Sound Rooms. More than 20 manufacturers will be set up to demonstrate their systems in more ideal environments, including Community Professional Loudspeakers, Crown, Danley Sound Labs, Electro-Voice, Harman Pro Group, JBL, Martin Audio, Tannoy, and many others.

5. Large Venue Display Gallery

Where: North Hall 4

Considered a replacement for InfoComm's once-popular Projection Shoot-Out, the large-venue, high-definition display showcase brings out the big boys in digital cinema-quality projection, including Barco, Christie Digital, Digital Projection, Sanyo, and Sony. Led by Extron vice president of engineering Steve Somers, the gallery comprises various screening rooms on the show floor, with numerous HD sources feeding multiple projectors from a central control room.

Need more to do? Check the InfoComm program for details on floor attractions like Rigging and Staging Demos (Central Hall 4, Booth C4709), the System Programming and GUI Design Gallery (Main Lobby between North and Central Halls), and the Technologies for Worship Pavilion (Central Hall 5, Booth C5628).

In addition, InfoComm will host a variety of AV Technology Tours Wednesday through Friday. Check your program for any updates, but tours (which cost $150 for members) include the Cirque du Soleil “O” Show (June 18 at 10:30 a.m.), UNLV and its cool Casino Surveillance Lab (June 18 at 1:30 p.m.), Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian (June 19 at 1:30 p.m.), and House of Blues (June 20 at 10:30 a.m.).


InfoComm is the place where AV manufacturers roll out new products. Some companies introduce as many as 50 new SKUs at the show. Many of these product debuts are closely guarded secrets, so even the media can't get first-word on all of them. But we get our share. In addition to the following products, check out the New Products | InfoComm 08 section, starting on page 80, for new releases from, among many others, BenQ, Crestron, Extron, InFocus, Kramer, Lowell, Meyer Sound, NEC, Neutrik, Sharp, Tannoy, and Yamaha.

And if you want a more visionary look at technology, stop by the Manufacturer's Forum at 4 p.m. Tuesday before exhibits open. Executives from Christie Digital, Crestron, Harman Pro Group, Polycom, and Scala will gather at the Las Vegas Hilton to talk about the future of AV and networking.

When the show floor opens Wednesday, among the thousands of products you'll see, Barco (booth C2830) plans to show off its new NX-6 LED tile, offering a 4200:1 contrast ratio and a calibrated output of 2000 nits, according to the company. Barco also plans to roll out its new DCS-200 seamless switcher designed for small and midsize venues. The product fleshes out the capabilities of Barco's DCS-100 by adding an independent preview output while enabling transitions between nine multiformat inputs.

InfoComm 08: Where the Pros Are

For the first time, InfoComm and NSCA Expo will be housed under one roof?a boon to busy integration firms, especially when travel is more challenging and expensive than it's been in recent years.

Polycom (booths N6019 and N7607) is taking the occasion of InfoComm 08 to expand its conferencing solutions. The company's new Telepresence Experience (TPX) will be on display, including the new Polycom TPX 306HD for high-definition conferencing. The company also plans enhancements for its RMX 2000 real-time media conferencing platform, including support for Lost Packet Recovery (LPR) technology that can improve the quality of IP-based video calls in the event of packet loss and network congestion.

And Symetrix (booth C3885) will launch an new integrator-focused Automix Matrix 780, a twelve-channel automixer with eight sub-mixes and comprehensive digital signal processing, according to the company. Symetrix says it's designed to enhance audio in courtrooms, government chambers, corporate boardrooms, and houses of worship. The company will also roll out the Symetrix ARC-2i Integrator Series Adaptive Remote Control Wall Panel, RC-4/RC-4e Remote Volume Plus Selection Wall Panel, and MS-1/MS-1e Sense Microphone Wall Panel, each built to extend remote control capabilities of its Symetrix, SymNet and AirTools system DSP.


By rough estimates, InfoComm 08 will include nearly 50 new education sessions. That doesn't include the roughly 80 NSCA University sessions that Info-Comm traditionalists can access under the combined InfoComm-NSCA umbrella (including one by PRO AV columnist Thom Mullins on impulse response measurements, June 20 at 8 a.m.).

From the InfoComm Academy and NSCA University, check out some of these new sessions:

Green AV, led by Joe Bocchiaro, CTS-D, CTS-I. The session will be held on each day of the trade show, examining the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and how integrators can help clients achieve LEED certification.

Commissioning and Maintaining AV Systems for the Technology Manager, led by Mario Maltese, CTS-D, CTS-I and James Maltese, CTS-D, CTS-I. This advanced session will run twice on June 18 and detail the steps required for comprehensive commissioning, including what's required for maintaining and actually improving a system once you flip the switch.

Intellectual Property Rights for the AV Professional, led by Howard Nunes, CTS. Offered on the first two days of the show, the interactive session will explore a growing area of concern: How does an AV professional protect his IP, whether it's custom programming or other AV design, while still working in a collaborative project group?

How to Compete with Box Sales, led by Gary Kayye, CTS. This new NSCA University class on June 20 hones in on what makes AV integrators different from all the other channels end-users may use for their AV gear. It's also a nice complement to the June 19 session, The Collision of Pro and Consumer AV Systems, as discussion on differentiation and added-value in pro AV.

Discovering and Documenting AV Project Requirements, led by Tim Cape, CTS-D. It's not a new NSCA University class, but this June 19 session by PRO AV contributor and Editorial Advisory Board member Cape, delivers the goods on benchmarking, needs analysis, and best practices.


Finally, if you're lucky enough to be in Las Vegas the entire week of InfoComm, you can pop in on several conferences and summits that round out an already chock-full trip (registration fees may apply):

Digital Signage Technology Summit, June 16 and 17, at the Las Vegas Hilton. The new conference, put on by the Strategy Institute ( promises to be very end-user-driven, which is great for integrators trying to understand the needs of a new market. Hear from executives at Procter & Gamble, the Mayo Clinic, and the Naval Sea Systems Command, and explore applications of signage technology.

Projection Summit 2008, June 16 and 17, at the Las Vegas Hilton. The long-running conference by Insight Media ( gets small—as in pico projector small. Check out pico- and pocket-sized projectors in a light-controlled setting to see if they're really ready for prime time.

EduComm 2008, June 18 to 20, at the Las Vegas Hilton. From smart classrooms to distance learning, the fifth annual EduComm has technology-centric sessions for representatives of 300 colleges and other educational institutions. If nothing else, peek your head in Wednesday, June 18, to hear New York Times technology columnist David Pogue talk trends and gadgets. Good stuff.

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