Joel’s Magic 8 Ball: 2017 Predictions for the Rental and Staging Industry

crewcall-lg-1015Last month, I confessed to all of you that I really enjoy the holiday season. It seems that as the season approaches, all you remember about it are the good things. However, over the last couple of weeks, I have been reminded of a few of the negative sides of the holidays. For instance, today I came to the office early in order to get information on estimates for clients who are demanding them for the end of the year. As I emailed them out, from two-thirds of them I got automatic replies that they will be back sometime after the first of the year.

Nevertheless, we here at rAVe don’t take the week off, so I thought that I would indulge a holiday week tradition. No, not having too much eggnog, although that is probably in order some time later on this week. Instead I mean to indulge in the time-honored tradition of making predictions for the coming year.

This tradition is an old and proud one, created and prolonged by our leader, Gary Kayye, with his widely publicized “Krystal Ball.” Personally, I’ve always wondered how a leader in a technical field can get away with using something as low-tech as a mere crystal ball. I use “Magic 8-Ball” on my vintage Apple Newton, which is plenty archaic enough for me.

The other thing that I always find about end-of-year predictions is that they are just too easy. As a kid I well remember Jeane Dixon, the famous psychic and her annual predictions. It always seemed that all you really had to do was to predict the death of several famous people who were particularly old, infirm or reckless, or the divorce of a famous Hollywood Playboy or Playgirl and you were psychic. However, in these cases the odds were with you, so it wasn’t much of a feat.

So I have decided to make my predictions for this year, especially for the rental and staging portion of the industry, on two levels:

First, let me make the spectacularly easy (Jeane Dixon-style) predictions for our industry:

  1. New technologies for signal propagation will continue to multiply. The issues with the HDMI interface as it currently stands are many (especially when it comes to the public performance part of the industry). 4K resolution and interactive video standards have already caused us to work beyond this common interface, often through a move to SDI. Over the next year or two, we will see a number of formats that will stretch these limits even further, especially as they are used with immersive technologies.
  2. New display technologies that have recently come to market will begin to show their potential for transforming the rental and staging area of our industry. Specifically, I have tracked OLED from its inception in small size displays such as VR headsets and camera viewfinders to its current state where its size, brightness, and flexibility are beginning to show advantages over existing LED technologies. My painfully obvious prediction is that this technology will very soon begin to change public performances as it becomes available at lower cost and in larger sizes.

Now, let me step out a little and make a couple of technological predictions that are (at least slightly) less obvious.

  1. Collaboration will be a continuing, driving change force in the rental market. More and more, as collaboration software and hardware becomes more prevalent within client organizations, we will need to accommodate it as part of public meetings. Large touchscreens, polling computers (especially those that utilize a clients smart phone as polling input) and systems which utilize social media and collaboration workspaces will continue to grow in the rental market. In fact, make sure that your staff is familiar with these types of collaboration environments, especially the cloud-based environments, because this could be a new offering to your existing clients.
  2. The market will see increased requests for visualization and immersive hardware and software systems. The growing acceptance of immersive individual visualization technologies will have companies experimenting with virtual environments and data visualization. I predict it will begin to see (especially in smaller, collaborative meetings) requests for immersive hardware like 3D displays (yes, there is a use for 3D) VR and immersive headsets, and 3D input systems. This may be a little farther out, but it’s acceptance in the mainstream market (and thus, in the rental market for those companies who choose to be there) is only a matter of time.

So, there are my thoughts on the upcoming year. We will see what Gary has to predict this year, and I am going to pay close attention to the technology predictions without listening to anything about Keith Richards. No fair cheating.

See you in the new year.