Best Practice: Peter's ISE 2014 Survival Guide

By Peter Aylett, Archimedia Middle East. From humble beginnings in 2004 as a modest little show in Geneva which attracted 120 exhibitors and just under 3,500 attendees, ISE has now become a Global must-attend event with close to 50,000 visitors expected in 2014. Based in the Amsterdam RAI, the event can be overwhelming in terms of geographical size, as well as the need to filter through the less-applicable products and solutions to whatever your business type is. Whether your visit is for one day or three, here are some tips on how to get the most out of ISE. Planning If there is anyone that you really want to see at ISE, make an appointment in advance. If you just turn up on the stand it is unlikely they will be able to give you much time. It is also a really good idea to make a list of stands that you want to visit in advance. Determine which of your suppliers are exhibiting, look through the exhibitor list to see if anyone else interests you, read through online blogs and news sites (Ed - see our ISE spotlight) to find out about interesting products and launches. Given the sheer size of the show, plan your days to avoid too much walking. It can take a good 20 minutes to get from one side of the show to the other. [caption id="attachment_3542" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Plan your visit so that you avoid walking back and forth from one end of the RAI to the other.[/caption] Unknown Unknowns 'There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.' - Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense. This quote applies very well to my own approach at shows - I'm there to find the 'unknown unknowns', the stuff that I never even knew existed. It is very easy to slip into a mind-set at shows where you simply visit the stands of existing suppliers. I find the strength of ISE is the sheer diversity of people, products and solutions across not just the residential sector, but all of the commercial ones. Last year I met a supplier of outdoor digital signage screens. We are now using these as outdoor display devices in people's gardens. There really are very few technical differences between commercial and residential equipment - so use ISE to fire your imagination by finding those commercial solutions that have not yet been discovered by your residential competitors. Also use this opportunity to look at diversifying into light commercial projects such as boardrooms, meeting rooms and small auditoriums. [caption id="attachment_3541" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Scouting through the commercial exhibits can lead to useful discoveries.[/caption] Timing Your Visit With close to 50,000 visitors there is huge pressure on transport systems for the show. As any previous visitor will know, if you leave it until closing time to try and get a taxi back to your hotel be prepared for a wait of at least an hour. Try to either leave the show half an hour before closing, use the tram system, or if there are mega queues you could walk for 10 minutes down one of the main roads and simply hail a taxi. At lunchtime why not leave the venue and walk to one of the excellent little cafés and restaurants in the surrounding neighbourhoods. One of Amsterdam's most vibrant neighbourhoods, De Pijp, is only a ten-minute brisk walk away and has many inexpensive cafes and bars. And don't forget that Amsterdam at the beginning of February can enjoy arctic conditions with biting winds, so check the weather forecast before you leave, and pack accordingly. [caption id="attachment_3543" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Amsterdam can be cold and wet in winter.[/caption] Trends to Look out For I can't possibly cover the scope of trends that you will find at ISE in this article. I am, however, running a three-hour Technology Trends course on the Tuesday morning during the show! As well as my courses (I'm also running an all-day Home Cinema Design workshop on the Monday) many other fantastic ones are available that will not only enhance your knowledge, but provide a welcome change in pace from the show floor. Once you have identified the trends that will shape your company's solutions in the coming year, use the show to quiz the manufacturers about their plans for supporting these trends. Some trends that will be prominent include: 4K - we have the displays, we even have some content, but we are yet to see much about transport. Much of this is linked to HDMI 2.0 where manufacturers are still finding their way with the new specifications and testing standards. Take the time to discuss plans for 4K and HDMI 2.0 with manufacturers and don't ignore any solutions that allow you to upgrade existing systems and infrastructure to deliver 4K content. [caption id="attachment_3544" align="aligncenter" width="355"] Do your research on transporting 4K around the home.[/caption] Ethernet control - 2014 will be the year that control finally becomes commoditised. Even if you do not what to embrace these new IP/API/Mobile-device-based systems, you need to understand their capabilities, advantages and drawbacks so that you can justify and sell your preferred solutions. This is one of my favourite aspects of shows - understanding products that we do not sell so that I can discuss them with clients and explain why we chose the brands that we do sell. A follow-on trend from Ethernet control is interoperability. Look out for partnerships amongst manufacturers allowing their products and ecosystems to communicate with little or no programming involved. Although lighting and lighting control have never been a significant part of ISE, following on from my HiddenWires article last month, look out for new lighting systems including PoE (Power Over Ethernet) lighting, and methods for interfacing with smart LED bulbs from companies such as Philips with its HUE, and LIFX. Final Note Most of all, use ISE as an opportunity to network with your peers. Exhibitions these days are becoming less about products and more about people. Use this opportunity to go beyond simply discussing the products and use discussions to delve deeper into the opportunities and solutions that the products bring. I wish you safe travels, and hope to see you there! Peter Aylett is a world-renowned speaker and lecturer in residential technology, and the Technical Director at Archimedia, a multinational high-end residential integrator in The Middle East. He is also currently Chair of CEDIA’s International Technology Council Applied Content Action Team, and a regular contributor to HiddenWires.

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