IC24 Roundup

EPISODE 143 | Guest: Brian Galante, founder and owner of Dimension PR

If you didn’t make it to InfoComm 2024, listen to this episode as we dive into the highlights. Brian Galante shares his insights on the rapid development of AI in content creation, the push for sustainable solutions and the future of hybrid meeting spaces with USB-C connectivity. Discover how these technological innovations are shaping the pro AV industry and what they mean for the future.

  • Hear about some major themes and new technologies at IC24
  • Discover how AI is being integrated into digital signage and pro AV products
  • Explore advancements highlighted on the InfoComm Esports Live 2.0 gaming stage
  • Learn about the shift of meeting room solutions to simplifying connectivity
  • Get a quick overview of new Visix products unveiled at the show

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See what Visix highlighted at InfoComm 2024 here.


Derek DeWitt: The largest trade show of its kind in this industry, InfoComm, happens every year, bouncing back and forth between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Orlando, Florida. This year on June 12th, 13th and 14th, it was in Las Vegas. Visix was there, of course, with a whole bunch of stuff in their booth, and so was my guest, Brian Galante.

Brian Galante: Hello, sir. How are you, my friend?

Derek DeWitt: Excellent, how are you?

Brian Galante: I’m doing wonderful. I appreciate you having me on as always.

Derek DeWitt: Thank you very much. Brian is the founder and owner of Dimension PR, and he’s gonna share some insights and things that he saw at the show. Thank you for listening to this episode of the podcast. You can subscribe and you can review us, and you can follow along with a transcript on the Visix website.

So this year, I think Visix had a pretty good year. They got their lead count where they wanted it, and the booth was pretty busy. The show seemed, you know, kinda like what we were saying with ISE back then. Hey, things are back. Like, it’s all back.

Brian Galante: Yes, yes. And beyond the cool, crisp and comfortable June weather of Las Vegas, InfoComm in some ways feels like a holiday in comparison to the exponential growth of ISE. I mean, that show just continues to, you know, experience off-the-rails growth. And while InfoComm is maybe not growing as fast or may even be static, it’s importance cannot be overstated for the pro AV industry in the Americas. This is the show for the North American channel, and it’s an ideal place for manufacturers with a domestic presence to meet with their regional partners throughout the country, as well as Canada and into Latin America.

And while it remains primarily a venue for the dealers and integrators that sell, design, and install AV systems, there’s a stronger contingent from the end user community that’s coming to the show now. And I find that really interesting. Several of my clients active in the corporate and education verticals, especially, reported visits from the decision makers with enterprise businesses and higher ed institutions that are coming to this show now specifically to evaluate new products as they come to market. That is especially true in the areas of workplace collaboration, classroom audio, and naturally digital signage.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, that’s quite interesting. Well, I’m glad, I’m glad to hear that. I mean, why not? Here it is. Play with it, you know.

Brian Galante: Well, you have the tech managers that are actually using these products. So certainly, you know, the integrators, the dealers, the consultants, they’re the ones who are specifying the systems and creating the systems designs. But ultimately, it’s the tech managers and the people who work there and teach there and learn there that are gonna have to use these systems. So recently, they wanna know what they’re installing and what’s being put in

Derek DeWitt: Absolutely no tech event this year or last year would be complete without, of course, AI. I know that there was an AI stage. And it seemed like people were still, they’re still talking about AI, artificial intelligence, in this kind of like, what it’s gonna be, what it’s going to become in the future, not really what it is yet. ‘Cause it’s, I think for a lot of people’s visions, it’s not quite there yet.

Like, I know Deb told me she overheard a guy saying like, you know, I can imagine like, you go into your coffee shop and, you know, you have all these AI-linked apps, and they all know somehow what diet plan you’re on, what you like, what you don’t like. And heck, it could, it knows what’s on the menu, and it knows what the specials are that day ’cause your AI is talking to their AI, and even just orders for you unless you overwrite it. You know? So, like you walk into a Starbucks and sit down, and your order’s already been placed. This is the kind of almost blue sky, someday in the future stuff that people seem to be talking about with AI, but they’re, they’re certainly talking about it.

Brian Galante: Yeah, I can’t think of a technology in the history of the modern world that has proliferated as quickly as AI, definitely in terms of everyday conversation, but also in terms of application development. You know, last year AI activity on the floor was definitely in its formative stages. Now I think we are seeing some development of real-world AI applications that are coming to market.

You know, I will say in comparison, I was at the NAB show in April, and I’m seeing much faster development of working applications coming to market in the broadcast industry than AV. That’s just based on, you know, my reflections and what I saw. In the AV space, what I’m seeing is voice AI activity ticking off. One area where I’m seeing interest is on the quick service restaurant side of the business where voice AI is powering indoor kiosks and drive-through ordering. And as those orders go in, that speech is being converted to text through AI algorithms. Likewise, AI for text-to-speech conversion appears to be a hot button item this year, particularly as it pertains to paging and public address applications in airports, transportation centers and retail environments. I mean, think of someone working in a command and control center that needs to fire off a quick emergency notification or, you know, quickly update an arrival and departure schedule. These are prerecorded announcements, you know, that could be launched with the push of a button, and you have AI, you know, basically transmitting it out, you know, into speech.

But AI in general has proven to be a useful tool to accelerate content creation. And I think that text-to-speech, speech-to-text, that falls under content creation. But the broadcast space, I’m seeing it with ad copy, you know, we’re seeing it in the virtual production world now. It’ll be interesting to see how, you know, other verticals, including live event venues and universities, take advantage of this technology moving forward.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, a lot of people still are conceiving of it in this, um, sort of from the audience’s point of view. And it’s interesting, like you said, like, hey, there’s somebody in the command center. This is behind the scenes stuff where AI is also useful. And I think that’s probably where it’s at first going to be applied.

For example, Visix unveiled a brand new gesture control interactive screen system that utilizes AI, actually. There are like four or five completely separate apps that the AI kind of manages. It’s like, there are certain movements you do with your hand instead of physically touching the screen. This means pan right. This means open up this window; this means close a window and so on. This means scroll, different gestures mean different things. And the AI, combined with the camera and these four or five different apps, it kind of is the manager in the middle that kind of goes, okay, this is happening, so let me grab from this app and this app, and it makes it all come together. And I think that’s certainly going to be the early days of practical applications of artificial intelligence.

Brian Galante: Yeah, that was really interesting. And I, I suppose that was the, the Christmas morning reveal for Visix on the bill.

Derek DeWitt: Yes, that’s exactly right. Yeah.

Brian Galante: I hadn’t heard anything about it leading up to the show, but…

Derek DeWitt: Well, it was being worked on and, you know, there was like, okay, it is gonna work, right? Like, we know it’ll work eventually, but is it gonna work by June 12th? You know, and we got it up and running and so, hey, check it out.

Brian Galante: And, you know, you gotta have those surprises at the show. And it was fun, and people were responding to it. And I think most importantly, the application was responding to the gesture. So it did work. You know, another interesting thing with AI, as it pertains to digital signage is I’m seeing, or, well, maybe not seeing is the right word, but hearing about more tools on the content creation side that are, you know, used for other purposes. Like Canva starting to find its way into the digital signage universe. And I think that’s interesting for the content creator who, you know, may have, let’s just say, a very modest skillset or, you know, some sort of intimidation about content creation. Bringing tools like that, AI tools like that into the digital signage content creation universe, I think could be quite interesting for, you know, let’s say smaller businesses and K-12 schools moving forward.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, I think that’s true. I mean, advice we’ve always given to people is, hey look, go to places like Pixabay and Pexels and other places where you can find high-quality images. Especially, you know, a lot of people have Shutterstock subscriptions. And, you know, it’s funny that my wife and I’ll be like in some airport somewhere while we’re traveling and we’ll go, oh, I know that image. There’s an image on that poster for their tourism board. I’ve used that exact image in something that I’ve created. You know, even with the enormous libraries that are out there, there’s a limited set of imagery that people choose, and the same ones seem to get chosen again and again and again, so you see them popping up. You know, that that one guy is selling hair product and cars and massages and furniture, you know, ’cause he’s so popular. So, when you get into AI content creation stuff, especially for visuals, I think it helps people really create unique imagery that nobody else has.

Brian Galante: Excellent point.

Derek DeWitt: Show me something I’ve never seen before.

Brian Galante: That’s what we all want, right?

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Now, I know that you mentioned something about esports, which is not something I think of when I think of an event such as InfoComm. But esports live events, they had another one this year.

Brian Galante: Yeah, I’ve been trying to figure this out for a couple years. You know, what is this esports thing all about? Why do we care in the AV industry and, you know, how does the technology support it? And it’s that latter point that I think really brings it all together. It is the technology, you know, driving the signal management and transport, you know, that really matters, you know, when it comes to creating a professional esports environment.

Now, I should say that esports does not seem to have really taken off on the professional level. Whomever is behind the esports community is still, you know, working on that professional business model. IE, I don’t think there’s a way you can really make money off it yet, but there’s a growing passion for it in the higher ed community.

And InfoComm held its esports live event again, I believe for the second year, that included live gaming competitions on a stage. There was a Shoutcast area with event coverage. One of my clients actually built an esports set on their booth. And it was interesting to watch, you know, just these random gamers appearing out of nowhere, coming onto the stand, you know, um, you know, and they were engaged in competitions. They were practicing their skills before they went to the main InfoComm stage, and that was really fun to see.

But what wowed me was how AV over IP technology and networked AV control and video wall displays have matured to the point where this entire esports ecosystem can come together and the AV technology can truly accommodate the fast-action switching, the low-latency delivery, the artifact-free presentation required to support a dynamic esports gaming environment. I have to think there’s a potentially interesting connection to be made between esports and maybe how a multi-site digital signage network on a college campus would work. So, I think that might be something that Visix can look at for InfoComm 2025 perhaps.

Derek DeWitt: Well, maybe, you know. But it’s interesting, you say that there’s not really a way to make money at it. I think that’s true in the United States. United States is lagging behind in this regard because in other countries – and I’m thinking specifically of Pacific Rim, Asia, Japan, Korea, even Thailand and Malaysia and certain parts of Indonesia – it’s a massive industry. Both 2019 and 2020 global revenues topped a billion dollars. It’s massive. Some people, this is literally what they do for a living is they play video game sports competitively. And I think it’s just now starting to really, like the Americans are going, you know, dangle money in front of Americans and they go, oh, I’m sorry, what did you say? Did you say a billion dollars? Okay, well maybe now I’m interested. And so they’re, they’re hustling to figure out a way to kind of make this something viable in that country.

Brian Galante: And whoever thought that gaming would turn into a potential profession. My 14-year-old self playing my Atari 2600 had dreams and visions, and it’s a reality today. Not for me, but for others.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Which is, which is great, you know. If that’s your skillset, that’s your skillset.

Brian Galante: Absolutely.

Derek DeWitt: You know, obviously a lot of stuff, we saw it at ISE, and I think we see it again at InfoComm this year. Meeting spaces have had to become much more flexible and much more sort of tech dependent. Because we’ve got hybrid offices and remote workforces and, you know, meetings where, yeah, there are 75 participants, but only 15 of them are physically in this office and only 10 are physically present at a different office. So we’re seeing that whole space change quite a bit, I think.

Brian Galante: Yeah, and that was the big push last year. I mean, you know, the whole return to office movement. How do we set up a formidable hybrid environment where, you know, the physical and the remote attendee can be equal participants? And, you know, we saw that taking place last year through notably camera tracking and beamforming microphone systems that can identify and follow the presenter or speaker throughout the room. And, you know, that’s important for the remote attendee that, you know, frankly is trying to, you know, be involved, you know, in the proceedings.

This year, I think the focus is a little more back inside the room, and it’s all about simplifying connectivity. You know, USB-C is becoming the primary connection point for laptops, mobile devices, for the end user. And vendors that specialize in switchers and signal extenders for signal management and transport inside meeting and even learning spaces are beginning to put a stronger emphasis on USB-C development in their products. You know, and the reason is simple. USB-C offers the efficiency of passing video, audio, control data and device charging over a single cable. And moving toward that as a primary connection point is going to make it easier for people to walk into a room, connect and present.

One very interesting solution I saw turned a, you know, a standard docking station into a USB-C extender. I thought that was way cool. What I thought was quite interesting, it removed HDMI and these other wired connections on the front end. So, you basically had one USB-C connection from the laptop going into this extender, and then on the output, the device opened up connectivity to cameras and displays. It was very clever.

Derek DeWitt: I, see, I’m all for it. I honestly think there should be a single connection type for everything. Which is, you know, the EU mandated this for smartphones, and they’re talking about mandating it for all sorts of things in the near future. So, they’re kind of leading the way on this, but I think this is, this is the future. Why, why not?

Brian Galante: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Derek DeWitt: Now, of course, speaking of meeting rooms, one of the other things Visix showed again was this Choros product, which is a basically deviceless, if you want. I mean, you can use availability lights or small EPS signs or whatever you want. But it really just uses the native web AR that’s on everybody’s phones. And it’s just kind of, boom, I need to book a space or any asset – space, bicycle, parking space, locker, doesn’t really matter. I just do it all through an interface that pops up on my phone and gives me a bunch of options and information. This kind of BYOD device is very much part of Visix’s big push this year, which is sustainability. Which, you know, I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but in order to kind of drive that message home, there was a lot of green in that booth.

Brian Galante: A lot of green, and it looked sharp. And yeah, I mean, you know, beginning with Choros, just, it’s as simple as walk up and book. It’s interesting, there’s little tiny QR tags that they have. I mean, they’re so small and you can put ’em anywhere, and you can put ’em on a desk and on the side of a booth, and so everywhere. So just that ability to BYOD, use your own device, walk up and book a space without any hassle, enormous. Just enormous.

And yeah, part of that greater sustainability message, which is, you know, less is more. I mean, digital signage has always been more sustainable than, let’s say, you know, printing out posters and reprinting out posters and reprinting and so forth, et cetera, et cetera. And, you know, that’s been one of the selling points for digital signage from the start.

But you know, what’s interesting with this whole sustainability growth is just how it’s really extending into this larger ecosystem for the workplace. For example, the extension of digital signage into meeting rooms, you know, which has been going on for a while, that was just sort of the first stage. You know, now we’re delivering content to smartphones and desktops. The way that digital signage ecosystem is expanding to, you know, streamline infrastructure and minimize costs while also having some environmental impact. You know, and Choros, just the booking platform for smartphones, the way it extends workplace connectivity even further without adding any more hardware, really just nails it home.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. I know that there’s a, there’s a lot of talk of sustainability and a lot of us are very wary of greenwashing attempts where people go, oh, it’s more economical and it’s more, you know, environmentally friendly. And then you look into it and you’re like, it is literally the exact same product that they’ve always had, you know. They’ve just made the, you know, like in a washing powder, but now the little crystals are green, and so they’re saying that somehow that’s more sustainable. I’m seeing a lot less of that these days and more legit like, oh, well, you know, maybe we should actually look into this and incorporate real sustainable solutions into our products and services. I think we’re seeing a legitimate attempt to embrace this idea. Because here’s the thing, folks, it’s here to stay. The audience wants it. So companies need to get on board or get left behind.

Brian Galante: You know, it’s all about having one interconnected ecosystem when it comes down to it, a solution where you can optimize resource usage, minimize waste and increase efficiencies.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, I mean, that to me seems like, I mean, why has that not always been the motivator, you know what I mean? But, you know, I think it’s interesting. It’s also a way to, because things are changing so quickly, like you said, three years ago, AI, that was something we talked about in science fiction movies. And now you can’t, you know, walk 15 feet without tripping over somebody saying AI, AI. So, things are changing so rapidly that I kind of feel like this sustainability push is also a way to kind of a little bit futureproof your business.

Brian Galante: An outstanding point is always my friend.

Derek DeWitt: So that’s a little bit of insight into what went on at InfoComm 2024, which was in Las Vegas this year. June next year we’ll be back in Orlando, Florida, and of course, Visix will be there, and I assume you will be as well, Brian.

Brian Galante: How can I miss it?

Derek DeWitt: And are we gonna see you at ISE again next year?

Brian Galante: Absolutely. Absolutely. But I have to tell you, I am so over the trade show business for a while. Give me six months of non-trade show life, please.

Derek DeWitt: Right. I’d like to just write some press releases, please and get them placed.

Brian Galante: I would just like to create and, you know, do the things that I do. Now, I will, you know, by the time ISE rolls around, this will be a distant memory and I will be revived. And by the time InfoComm 2025 passes, I’ll be completely burned out again of trade shows. It is just one vicious annual cycle, forever and ever.

Derek DeWitt: Yes, that’s very true. I think a lot of people feel that way. For people that are interested, you can see some information about all the fun things that we showed in our booth at visix.com/infocomm, that’s OMM at the end, and you can see the webpage there for that. As always, I’d like to thank Brian Galante. He is the owner and president of Dimension PR. It’s always an interesting conversation, sir.

Brian Galante: My man, I appreciate it. I agree. Thank you for having me.

Derek DeWitt: Thank you. And again, I remind everybody out there that you can read the conversation we just had in a transcript, also on the Visix website, but this time under resources.