I wrote another blog about Microsoft and InfoComm that asked whether Microsoft’s presence really signaled that AV/IT convergence was finally here. The comments and Twitter discussion quickly turned to speculation about what Microsoft may actually be showing on the show floor.
The consensus there was that we all expect to see Lync, Skype (perhaps with the new voice translation features for VTC), and Microsoft Certified partners products in the booth. They do have 10,000 square feet to fill, so we know that it won’t be empty.
It got me thinking as to what I would show on the floor if I was in charge of putting together the booth. What will resonate with AV integrators? What products would open new opportunities for integrators looking to add new revenue streams to their businesses?
With that I am assuming the imaginary role of CMO for a day. Here is what you would see in my Microsoft InfoComm booth in 2014.
This is the most obvious play and one we all know will be on display. However, I would make sure that Lync was displayed in a very specific way. I would have a 4 way Lync call active in a quad section of the booth, with the floor color coded like the windows logo.
Vignette 1 would be a Crestron RL system connected to a Windows 8 PC and controlled by a Surface tablet running a Crestron X-Panel.
Vignette 2 would be a Vaddio Easy USB system leveraging Lync as the soft codec, and connected to a Windows 8 notebook.
Vignette 3 would be an Ultrabook connected to a drop down screen with Da-Lite ViewShare and the Jabra conferencing puck.
And Vignette 4 would be a home office with Lync running on Surface Pro tablet.
Facetime eat your heart out. This would allow Microsoft to show how Lync is a ubiquitous collaboration tool that can be used in various scenarios across secure networks and even on BYOD devices. (Did I cover enough buzzwords there? Good.)
Skype Translation Software
I tried to watch a hockey game where the closed captioning was turned on. It was rampant with errors no human would have made, so I can only assume a machine was doing the translation from the live commentary. Given that experience in English, I don’t know that I could trust software with my international business deal. This would be Microsoft’s chance to prove that notion wrong.
Have a Skype call set up between 2 points on the InfoComm floor, one in the Microsoft booth and the other in an international lounge. Let international InfoComm attendees in the lounge communicate with English speaking visitors in the booth and see if their conversations come through as expected.
I don’t know if everyone remembers, but Microsoft ditched their old Surface Multitouch Table platform and then went and bought Perceptive Pixel. Perceptive Pixel makes large format interactive touch screens that use Projected Capacitance technology just like an iPad uses. This means that unlike their IR based counterparts form companies like Horizon Display and Elo Touch, they support unlimited touch points and have completely flat surfaces. I would be leveraging Perceptive Pixel displays as interactive digital signage showcases to promote audience engagement.
Separate displays would also be running One Note for collaboration or education multitouch vignettes.
Windows 8 Developer Kit
OK so Microsoft hasn’t fulfilled all the promise of a Windows 8 platform that bridges phones, tablets, and PCs. They are close but many programs need some conversion to work on one platform or the other, even if developed in Windows 8.
That being said, we all know that content is both a huge mystery and a giant opportunity for integrators. The Perceptive Pixel showcase above would leverage Windows 8 applications for content, to show how the platform can be used in conjunction with Windows 8’s native multitouch and gesture capabilities to create engaging, intuitively navigated content. A small class would be held to show integrators how they can become involved in the Windows 8 developer community, either as a developer themselves, or as a resource for forming strategic partnerships and creating more revenue streams for digital signage.
Kinect for Windows
Sure it would be fun to have a place to play games or have a dance revolution on the InfoComm floor, but Kinect does much more than that with its Windows Developer kit. I would be showing off customized PC based content on a rear projection window. This window would be on the outskirts of the booth allowing a view of what’s behind the wall and then have the booth attendee use Kinect based gesture control to navigate the booth virtually to see what’s on display inside.
A major feature of the Microsoft retail spaces is their use of 128 screens to create a video wall that wraps around the interior perimeter of their stores. I would create a unique aspect ratio video wall and then drive custom content at full resolution using several multiple output video cards from someone like NVidea or Matrox to show how PC based content can compete with the traditional multi-screen processor appliances like those from tvONE or RGB Spectrum.
These are all ways Microsoft products could be displayed to show how they fit into and enhance our AV world. They would hit on key market segments for integrators being VTC, collaboration, interactive, and digital signage. In this way integrators could connect the dots and see how AV and IT devices all start to work together within an ecosystem.
We’ll see what Microsoft brings to the show. I have a feeling many of the things I mentioned will be there or at least I hope that they are.