Emerging Trends at InfoComm: From 5G to IoT

By Joseph Cornwall
A/V Technology

I’ve been attending and volunteering at InfoComm shows for well over a decade. It’s been a bright spot in my career in AV. I always look forward to seeing old friends, making new friends, sharing laughter, learning new things and otherwise wringing every bit of joy and value served up at a great trade show!

2020 shocked all of us with its malignant progression of disease and disruption. Hopefully we’re past the worst of it. Certainly business has begun to regroup and rebound and create new opportunities in directions previously unimagined. And that makes this year’s Emerging Trends exploration even more valuable and important.

Since its inception in 2016, I’ve eagerly awaited the InfoComm Emerging Trends event. Every time I walked away from that session, my mind abuzz with new concepts, applications, and perspectives, I found my energy level and engagement with the AV industry enhanced. Imagine my surprise when I was asked to this event! I was at once overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility and pride! Above all, I immediately recognized that this show, this year, this session will demand absolutely every bit of energy, creativity, and commitment I could muster.

This year the Emerging Trends session will be presented as a half-day event on Tuesday, October 26, in a space set-up for social distancing and with the safety and comfort of attendees at the forefront of consideration. We’ll start bright and early, end at lunchtime and you can look forward to a full roster of thought-provoking and insightful presentations.

Our first session will focus on 5G, the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. 5G’s impact on the AV community will start with its ability to rapidly deploy “last mile” connections. It’s a bridge over the digital divide that offers the promise of state-of-the-art connectivity enabling the development of business opportunities in underserved regions. Beyond this, 5G is a driver (if you’ll pardon the pun) of autonomous vehicles and unleashes the power of AR and VR applications at scale.

Next up we’ll dive headlong into Matter and the Internet of Things. Is this the year of IoT?

Matter, formerly Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), is a proprietary, royalty-free automation connectivity standard. Launched and introduced by Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast and the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly the Zigbee Alliance), the IP-based standard is designed to enable smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services to communicate. Indeed, it defines a specific set of IP-based networking technologies that will be of great importance to the AV industry.

Digital television technology emerged to public view in the 1990s. We went through a lot of gyrations in moving beyond analog NTSC and harnessing the power of digital communications. Now we’re preparing for the next step in the evolution of broadcast television. ATSC 3.0 takes everything about the initial switch to digital TV broadcasting and upgrades it.

ATSC 3.0 is the new unified standard for broadcast and OTT providers. It delivers a next-generation content experience. Users want to view content on any device, at any time, from any location. This new SMPTE platform and standard will impact the whole of the North American market with better sound quality, greater image resolution (8K!), availability on more mobile devices (like phones and tablets as well as in cars) and more channels in higher quality. If Matter is a bridge over the digital divide then ATSC 3.0 spans the chasm separating OTA from OTT and wired from wireless!

Finally we’ll end our day with a lively panel discussion on a topic that never fails to provoke a strong reaction. Is AV finally IT? We’ll present some of our industry’s best thinkers as they divine the meaning and impact of our continued journey from an analog past to a powerful digital future. What new standards and applications will rise to the top? How will IT infrastructure evolve in response to ever-growing AV payloads? How will AV be impacted by the blurring lines separating data from audiovisual content? I’m confident our panel will provide all the answers… or at the very least they’ll lead us to a better way of asking the questions!

If we learned one thing during 2020 it's this; remote work works but remote work also brings its own technological challenges. Never has AV at an arm’s length been more important to both employees and employers alike. We can’t begin to address the problems of the hybrid workforce without understanding where mobile technology is taking us. There isn’t a more important connection in technology than the rapidly growing market for USB Type-C and Thunderbolt interfaces.

This is a power and signal interface that’s native to hundreds of products central to the AV integrated experience, from laptop and desktop computers to smartphones, interactive displays, monitors and peripherals. Knowing what’s coming next will give you a leg up on your competition and the confidence to address new challenges in the post-COVID workplace.

There’s a lot of work yet to be done as we prepare for the show in these unprecedented times.   I’ll be there, fulfilling a role that humbles me in its gravity. I hope I’ll see you at InfoComm!

To see the full list of Emerging Trends topics and register, visit the InfoComm 2021 website

Joseph Cornwall
Legrand, A/V Technology

Recognized industry educator, author and presenter Joseph Cornwall has held management and technical positions in commercial, residential and broadcast AV market sectors in his 30-plus year career. Cornwall is an AVIXA InfoComm faculty member, 2014 InfoComm Educator of the Year, and a frequent presenter at BICSI, AIA, NSCA, InfoComm and industry events across North America and around the world. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Cornwall holds CTS-D, CTS-I, LEED GA, ISF-C, and FOI certifications. Today Cornwall holds the position of A/V Technology Evangelist for Legrand, where he is responsible for predicting the future and making it happen!