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Kayye’s Krystal Ball: 2024 Edition

Kayye's Krystal Ball 2024 Graphic (1)

Welcome to my 24th annual Kayye’s Krystal Ball!

It’s been an honor to have written this for 24 straight years and even more of an honor for it to have so many thousands of readers annually — it’s almost always our most-read article of the year on rAVe [PUBS]. So, if you’re reading this right now, know that I am humbled by your loyal readership, and I continue to be amazed by how many of you read it (as well as how many of you tell me you use it to guide decisions on up-and-coming new companies and tech). Thank you for the support, #AVtweeps. #LOVE 💜 .

As I’ve explained each year, writing this requires me to stop and research anything new, evaluate the potential impact it will have on our market and then articulate it in a way that matters to you, the readers. If you’re a regular reader of my content, you already know this, but for those who don’t: My Kayye’s Krystal Ball is an annual article in which I not only tell you what I think is going to happen in the AV, UCC and Digital Signage markets for the upcoming year, but I also look back and review the previous year’s predictions — sort of a scorecard of accuracy, if you will.

So, without further ado, I’ll start Kayye’s Krystal Ball: 2024 Edition by reviewing what I predicted would happen last year. Then, I’ll move on to my 2024 predictions.

For reference, you can read Kayye’s Krystal Ball 2023 here!

Author’s note: Kayye’s 2023 Krystal Ball Predictions will be delivered as an Exertis Almo exclusive webinar on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. EST. You can register to attend that here.

Let’s Review My 2023 Predictions!

(With a heart for things I got right and a skull for things I got wrong.)

  • Projectors will see the best sales year since 2015: 💜
  • We will see a plethora of new all-in-one products: 💜
  • 2023 will be a record year of brand partnerships and collaborative agreements: 💜
  • The Huddly Crew and/or HDBaseT could set a new bar for meeting equity: 💜
  • Using the future of the car as a model, watch AVaaS explode in 2023: 💀
  • The digital signage media player model is how we will soon build AV systems: 💜
  • Hotel lobbies should become co-working spaces: 💀
  • 2023 will be GIANT for dvLED: 💜
  • The Digital Canvas is seeing a plethora of new product solutions: 💜
  • The Philips Tableaux will kick off a wave of wireless signage displays: 💜
  • The things I said you would (or should) be doing in 2023:
    • Selling furniture: 💜
    • Building experiences: 💜
    • Figuring out how to leverage XR technology: 💀
  • And, finally, the 12 companies (see list in 2023 article) I said you probably haven’t noticed but should be on your radar in 2023: 💜

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to this year.

What’s Going to Happen in 2024? My Predictions:

1. Xyte Will Become the AV Cloud and AVaaS Platform of Choice in 2024:

If you haven’t heard of Xyte, you’d better learn everything you can, and quickly. Simply put, this company is transformational. Xyte has quietly developed the best cloud management and AVaaS platform in the industry.

You may already be familiar with and using this company’s product without knowing it (as, truthfully, the only wholly scalable versions of CloudAV are its OEM partners). Unfortunately, to truly immerse myself into the Xyte platform, I had to sign an NDA that wouldn’t disclose its partners’ names (unless the company tells the market first). The reason? Some of Xyte’s partners want you to believe they built their own cloud-based management AVaaS platforms — but instead, they offer white-labeled Xyte. There is nothing wrong with this; companies want to appear to own the IP, even when they don’t.

That leads me to this thought: I wish every brand in AV, UCC and Digital Signage would stop with the “not-invented-here” syndrome nonsense. Just adopt Xyte. Let me set the scene to further my point: Imagine if every AV, UCC and Digital Signage product you installed — no matter the brand or model — worked together seamlessly and could be managed on one dashboard. Now, imagine that, besides proactive systems management, you could have every system you install available on an AVaaS model.

That’s Xyte — and that’s why it deserves top billing in my 2024 Kayye’s Krystal Ball.

I guarantee you there is not a single integrator salesperson on the planet who will disagree with me on this one. It will make AVaaS frictionless for them to sell and reliably support, thus raising the bar for everyone. Oh, and it’s super profitable, too. It will allow integrators to sell services rather than just products.

2. E Ink’s Color ePaper is Going to Transform Digital Signage, Right Before Our Very Eyes

In the retail space, full-color ePaper is driving more interest in signage and merchandising use cases. Color ePaper enables retailers to get all the benefits of low-power (or battery-operated) digital signage. For transportation, E Ink will expand outdoor signage networks, especially with its E Ink Kaleido 3 Outdoor display technology, which has a larger temperature range. Color is also a big interest for onboard transportation signage, such as advertisements and route information inside buses, as well as transit networks with multiple lines like the MBTA in Boston, which already has E Ink’s signage installed across parts of the Green Line. And, this is the technology being used by companies like Sharp and Philips Tableaux for their color ePaper products.

Additionally, E Ink Prism 3 is enabling manufacturers to push color E Ink beyond the boundaries of traditional signage and consumer products. In 2024, expect to see more manufacturers integrating color-changing materials into various products. If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, check out the use cases like the BMW i Vision Dee concept car and the color-changing guitar from Cream Guitars. Now, imagine transforming a storefront, a company lobby or even a cafeteria in a school using this technology — AV integrators will drive adoption.

In 2024, look for the aforementioned E Ink adopters to deliver larger form factors than what is currently available (42” displays). Wireless and powerless displays are the future and 2024 will be a big breakout year for them!

Oh, and let’s not forget DynaScan — this company has an outdoor ePaper solution. You read that right — outdoor ePaper. It’s incredible and transformative and it can all be managed PoE.

3. 21:9 Will become the Aspect Ratio of Choice for All ProAV Installs; Not Just UCC

The developers of Signature Microsoft Teams Rooms likely had some inkling of the wave of 21:9 displays that we’d see in 2023, and for the Front Row feature, they had to have a way to show proof-of-concept at launch. However, I will bet they had no clue that it would, a year later, become the aspect ratio of choice for even non-UCC applications like classrooms! Even display chip companies, like Epson (3LCD) and TI (the company behind the DLP engine) are making native 21:9 products, and so are LCD and LED manufacturers.

This opens opportunities for classrooms and even live events to use the wider aspect ratio. This will be a very exciting evolution for well beyond the good ol’ 16:9 days.

4. MicroLED (and LED) Will Have Its Year

I know, I know, microLED isn’t new. Sony pioneered it with its CLED (Crystal LED) and has wow’d everyone who visits its booth ever since the 2018 launch. But, now, Samsung is debuting a transparent microLED, and this is a game changer. Certainly, we won’t see transparent microLED in most applications, but these major developments will drive the cost of ALL LED down. Also, as companies like Legrand launch a universal LED mounting system to simplify spec’ing and designing with LED, we will see so much more LED on the market. However, rest assured, I am not a believer that LED will replace projection. However, I see LED creating new opportunities to build more immersive installs in every kind of room — yes, even meeting rooms.

In fact, LED is more likely to replace LCD flat panels than most other applications. Wait, and you’ll see.

One example of this is the new Avocor X Series — launched at ISE 2024. The X Series is a new LED wall that’s designed for collaboration spaces. This means there is FINALLY a reason to use a collaboration-board-like product as a front-of-room display. Prior to the Avocor X Series, I would have virtually never recommended a collaboration board be used as the primary display in a meeting space. The exception is definitely a huddle space; go for it. But, in meeting rooms, collaboration boards should be augmented displays — carted in or attached to the side walls of a room — not the primary display.

Oh, and what about the free-press LED technology got during this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game as the entire game unfolded and was played on an LED floor:

And, the Olympics, this summer, will feature over 170 LED screens at various venues and during the opening and closing ceremonies in Paris, France. This will, no doubt, be LED’s year to shine (pun intended)…

5. The Hollywood-Like Meeting Experience Will Amp Up UCC and Make for Better Classrooms

Historically, we in the AV business have been pretty darn reactive. Sure, we’re at the pinnacle of technology and have some of the coolest tech in all of tech, but we are typically reacting to an idea rather than driving new ideas through technology. Well, Huddly changed all that with the launch of Huddly Crew last year — emulating a three-camera Hollywood TV shoot with AI automating meeting video, making things better for remote participants. Side note: I am still awaiting a solution to make the experience better for in-room participants. Meaning, if we are in the room, we still treat remote participants like stepkids. #Truth. I spoke with Logitech at length during ISE 2024 about the need to address this — they seemed intrigued by my idea (stay tuned)!

And now, Logitech, Cisco and Jabra have entered the AI market to make meetings better for remote participants with Logitech adding “smart switching” to its Sight camera, Jabra packing AI into it’s Panacast 50 System (watch this deep-dive demo!!) and Cisco’s Cinematic Meetings Experience via EQX. All these new AI features are amazing.

We can all see how these will transform meeting rooms for remote participants — anyone watching any of those video links above can clearly see that. But, what you might not have thought about is how they provide you the ultimate sell-up opportunity in classrooms! Now you can simply install three cameras into any classroom and set whatever UCC platform to auto-record the class (or use Panopto) and you get an auto-switching three-camera shoot of any class — something not only remote participants will appreciate but anyone who would ever have to miss or re-watch a class! This is a great upsell opportunity in ANY classroom!

See related  University of Floria Deploys 200+ Screen Signage Network Using Sony BRAVIA

6. IPMX Is Now a Ratified Standard in AV-over-IP But the Leaders Still Aren’t Using it

I told the AIMS Alliance (the group of SMPTE ST 2110 manufacturers behind making IPMX a standard) this four years ago — until either Extron or Crestron adopt IPMX, it will not be the primary way that AV-over-IP installs are done by AV integrators. I still think that in 2024. And, now AMX has even added new AV-over-IP through the SVSI (also using IPMX).

I think 2024 will be much of the same. Again, until you get either Crestron or Extron to adopt IPMX, it won’t be the primary way AV-over-IP installs are done.

7. Everyone Has a Video Bar Now — All of Them Will Survive 2024

clickShareBar

At ISE 2024, Barco launched the Barco ClickShare Bar. And, following Sennheiser’s entry into the collaboration video bar market — also Vaddio (with the Venture) last month — now everyone in UCC has a video bar. So, how do you decide which one to use? I love this. Each one has a differentiation. Barco’s video bar literally has a ClickShare Conference built into it. Sennheiser’s is the only one with Dante, so it’s designed to be part of a larger system and has the ability to send and receive signals facility-wide. Vaddio’s is part of its USB ecosystem — so if you’re using Vaddio USB cameras or its Bridge, you’ll likely use its video bar too. I could go on and on covering each manufacturer with a bar … but they aren’t all alike. Everyone will likely pick the company they are most closely aligned with. Thus, all of them will survive. However, I am not sure there is much room for more — I am talking to you, QSC!

8. The Logitech Ghost Will Kick Off an All-in-One Room Offering that Could Trigger AVaaS Options in UCC

Have you seen or heard of the Logitech Ghost? If not, it’s a 10’x10’ all-in-one room system collaboration between Logitech and Steelcase. Before reading on, go watch this deep-dive video look I recorded at ISE 2024:

So, as you can see it’s a complete room system, walls and all. Why is this significant? Well, we have a situation in which some of the biggest clients in the world want to buy AV gear OpEx rather than CapEx — meaning, they’d rather buy AV systems over time by paying a monthly usage fee (like you do when you lease computers/phones/etc.) rather than paying for it all up front. As an industry thus far, we haven’t been able to do this as that would require every company in a system to cooperate with an AVaaS model (something that Xyte, the company I mentioned in #1, is trying to help our industry do). But now, here comes Logitech and Steelcase with an all-in-one solution that packages all the AV —integrated with UC and furniture. Yes, walls and even a ceiling! This solution is one fixed price; or, a large company like Bank of America could buy dozens or even hundreds of them by paying a monthly fee, e.g. OpEx. This could force every major company in AV and UCC to stand-up and take notice (and cooperate with Xyte, for example) in their movement to help us go AVaaS. Look out!

Either way, I LOVE the Logitech Ghost!

9. Digital Signage Will Finally Become Part of AV — Kicking Off a Media Server Revolution

Thanks to companies like BrightSign and SpinetiX, digital signage will finally be integrated into AV. We’ve been playing around the fringe of it for years with the majority of it going to either the advertising or the IT markets. But, SpinetiX launched something really cool at ISE 2024: It’s a four-output signal player designed to simplify video walls. That player, in and of itself, is not the reason I make the statement above. In fact, I am not even sure that SpinetiX appreciates what it has: a mini-media server.

Who cares?

Well, media servers have dominated live events for years. All those pixel-mapping shows? Media servers do that. The amazing immersive content projected or placed on random LEDs behind the bands at live concerts? Media servers do that. And, what SpinetiX has launched — probably without even realizing it — is a small, inexpensive media server. And, one that could, for example, be installed in a classroom or a meeting room and plaster content across multiple displays — all from one giant digital canvas. Also, look at the new Dataton WATCHPAX 30 Media Server!

This will be an interesting trend to watch in 2024 and if you’re not already using SpinetiX (or Dataton), you should be.

10. More USB Cameras Will Find Their Way Into All Rooms — Not Just UCC Rooms, Way More

Ironically, the biggest inhibiting factor to installing more USB-based cameras into spaces is cost, not of the cameras but of the USB signals. Sending USB — especially USB 3) signals long distances is hard and expensive to do. But, the team behind HDBaseT (aka: Valens) has figured out a way to do it really intensively and powerfully; it could kick off a wave of USB everywhere.

Hype? Well, watch this and see if you agree:

So, believe me now? I think this changes everything. This allows us to stick a lot more USB-based cameras into classrooms, meeting rooms, boardrooms and even spaces around a client’s facility. So, if you are in the business of selling USB-based cameras or integrating USB-based cameras, 2024 will be a giant year for you!

Oh, remember that section above in which I talk about how the Hollywood-like meeting experience will transform classrooms? Herein lies the solution.

11. Experiential Design Could Explode in 2024

If you haven’t been to an Illuminarium, go! They are in Las Vegas, Toronto and Atlanta so far. No, I am not saying this is the future of everything, but I see this as inspiring the future of experiential spaces — what else are we going to do with all those giant buildings at malls (that used to house the anchor stores that are now closing down)? Kids love them and adults do too. They can be used for housing digital museum collections, gaming, corporate events and family outings. They’re applauded universally. And I know you all know about the Sphere in Vegas — it’s an experiential space. The Van Gogh Exhibit? Same. But in the case of the Sphere, it’s actually LED with a killer perspective of a 190-degree field-of-view, depending on where you are sitting.

But, these spaces don’t even have to be in big, open, expansive buildings. You can do this in a small room, too. Heck, Christie Digital had one in its booth at ISE last month. I explored it during this booth tour video I led.

The point is, there’s a new market emerging for experiential spaces. It’s a new type of client that doesn’t even know how to ask for what what it wants. So, look out!

12. InfoComm Will Be Gigantic! Record-Setting, in Fact

If you’ve not already registered to attend InfoComm, you should. (In fact, do it now with code “RAVE” for free entry onto the show floor.) In any case, the stars have aligned and AVIXA added a bigger Esports Pavilion, more live events exhibits, the largest educational program in a decade and more exhibitors than the show has had since 2019. There is no doubt that IC24 will be the biggest show ever. You won’t want to miss it if you are in AV, UCC or Digital Signage.

13. We’ve Barely Seen AI; Way, Way More Will Come in 2024

So far, our exposure to AI has been limited to bettering mic arrays and some creative camera integration as described above with the cinematic and Hollywood-like three-camera shoot UCC products from Cisco, Logitech and Huddly. Boy oh boy are you about to be blown away with some of the new AI stuff coming to the ProAV market. For example, imagine if systems could set themselves up. It’s coming. What if you could see a system failure weeks before a problem ever arises? It’s coming. And, what if you could control an entire room with your voice? It’s coming. AI will also start to replace some tech jobs in ProAV. That’s the part of AV we don’t like to talk about, but if you’re a system programmer, you might want to diversify your talents. Also, if you really want to see an interesting glimpse into the future of AI, head on over to digital signage content creation platform company Korbyt, and and check out how it has automated signage content creation using location and time-based AI. I am truly impressed.

14. With NDI, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

NDI is the AV-over-IP sleeper technology. Historically used for managing either broadcast video streams or H.264/H.265 streaming, it keeps getting amped up. NDI 6 is the bomb. Not only does it support HDR in AV-over-IP but it can also move 16 bits per color channel, streaming over well less than 1G of bandwidth! Companies to watch? Vizrt (sister company to NDI) and NDI itself!

15. AVaaS? Yes Please!

Although I don’t think AVaaS (AV-as-a-Service) will make the prime-time lineup for ProAV in 2024, I think it’s time to start creating toothier kitted solutions. The issue with AVaaS is that you can’t sell a system that way UNLESS every brand you sell agrees. In other words, if the display company you’re specifying says “no dice” to AVaaS, you’re stuck selling that CapEx while selling everything else as a service (aka: OpEx). But, you can pick your favorite five vendors and sell those as a kitted package, then dumb down some of the systems you sell and sell them OpEx (as a service). 2024 is THE YEAR to do this, you’ll see …

That’s all from me for 2024. Thanks for reading. You can always challenge me, ask for clarification or add your own predictions in the comments below. Finally, feel free to email me at gary@theraveagency.com. I welcome your feedback!

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