Professional Sound - June 2017 - Page 9

— in P u t The Rise of Immersive Technologies A Q&A with Jason McGraw, Senior VP of Expositions, InfoComm International Among the numerous new initiatives launching at this year’s InfoComm Show is the Immersive Technologies Pavilion, featur- ing a collaborative Immersive Technologies Experience that will allow show attendees to explore some of the commercial ap- plications for these increasingly proliferated technologies. We recently spoke with InfoComm’s Jason McGraw about the Immersive Technologies Pavilion and the growing importance of this sector in the AV industry. PS: What informed the decision to launch the Immersive Technologies Pavilion for InfoComm 2017? JM: Clearly, over the last several years on the consumer side, there’s been an intro- duction and proliferation of technologies like Oculus and other VR solutions for gam- ing, and then there’s been an explosion in 360 video as well. More recently, we’re see- ing augmented reality apps and you read every day about various new technologies and solutions that address different facets of this, so we thought these technologies are going to collectively come into the commercial side of the marketplace, and certainly the various applications for this go beyond the consumer gaming element and will cut across a number of different indus- tries that our members serve and work in. We feel it will be a strong trend moving forward, so we introduced it this year and plan to build on it for next year when we head back to Vegas. PS: An immersive multimedia experi- ence is often thought of on the individ- ual level, typically with consumer-level technologies. What are some of the op- portunities for immersive technologies in the commercial AV sector that you’re highlighting? JM: We put together [the Immersive Technologies Experience] to show some of the applications of various immersive technologies to give our attendees a flavour for what’s possible. We wanted attendees to be able to see how these technologies can impact applica- tions like architecture, healthcare, engineer- ing, and so on, both from a hardware and software perspective. So this immersive demo in the middle of the pavilion will let attendees experience a bunch of different ones, plus other exhibitors will have their own solutions and demos to showcase. The examples of commercial applications for immersive technologies keep bubbling up every day. I heard a story about a real estate company that was using virtual reality for their agents to do virtual walkthroughs of listed properties without having to leave their office. So there’s someone using this technology to facilitate the customer experience and create new sales and marketing opportunities. That’s one example, but there are many others, and for our commercial service providers in the AV channel, this is a new frontier for them. We see this as a great extension to what they can offer their customers, and likewise to tech manag- ers that visit the show, they can look at these different platforms and experiences to see how they can incorporate this into their work. A big theme at InfoComm this year is on customer outcomes and solutions and the customer experience, and this is clearly a technology area that enhances and augments – no pun intended – the customer experience. PS: How did your team go about orga- nizing the educational sessions and other programming related to immer- sive technologies, considering this is relatively new territory for the associa- tion and its members? JM: Every year, we do a call for presenters and that really helps feed in the content that we choose from very selectively to put together our programming. With the TIDE (Technology. Innovation. Design. Experi- ence) program as a new initiative that’s separate from our traditional offerings at the show, we went out and got some outside help in crafting a new program where we cherry-picked some intelligent, intriguing, entertaining, thought-provoking subject matter experts from a variety of industries, including immersive experiences. It’s a really eclectic bag of thought leaders, and that was by design. We wanted to go outside of our usual circle of friends to reach out. When it comes to the realm of, “What’s next?” and the thought leadership of where the industry is headed and how integrators and design consultants can better serve their customers, and how the tech managers from these institutions who are using this technol- ogy can keep track of these trends and how that will shape their business, we thought, as an association, we could take that role of helping bridge the gaps between these dif- ferent spaces. So for this year in particular, we’re focusing on that customer experience. It’s something we’re carrying in our global strategic initiatives as an association, so that’s why we wanted to bring in some of these outside voices [through the TIDE initiative] and we’re very excited about it. PS: It may be early to say, but with this being a significant component of this year’s show, is it something the associa- tion plans to continue developing for future shows and initiatives? JM: I wish I had a better crystal ball [laughs], but this is something we’ve committed to continuing and building on for next year. We’ll of course be monitoring the market and how these technologies are adopted and used and how many more of the major players continue to introduce products or solutions that apply. We don’t have a ton specific to immersive audio in this pavilion or experience, but sur- round sound and the more immersive audio applications are still advancing and we know it’s not only about video. Audio is a very im- portant part of our market and the content of our show and we’re very committed to it, so we’re going to continue to explore that at the show, and we’ve got some announcements at the show about our plans for next year and the expansion of some of these areas. Jason McGraw is the senior VP of expositions with InfoComm International. With 30 years of experi- ence in both for-profit and not-for-profit exposition and conference management, Jason has worked on some of the largest expositions held in the U.S. In his current role, he manages the professional audiovi- sual industry’s annual exposition held each June in the U.S. PROFESSIONAL SOUND 9