Our second blog post on the technology trends from ISE deals with developments in interactive solutions and Visual Collaboration.

In our video portal you will find video interviews with the manufacturers. In the videos we present the outstanding solutions of ISE 2019.

Interactive solutions: Developments and challenges

While this year’s ISE showed numerous further developments in interactive displays, there appeared to be a stagnation in the area of interactive ultra-short throw projectors. Interactive displays offer a variety of solutions that make selection all the more difficult not least because touch is not the same as touch!

What was new:

  • There were interesting developments in interactive displays. Most touch technologies can now differentiate between finger and pen input. More and more manufacturers are combining their projected capacitive touch systems (PCAP) with active pens in order to enable differentiation between finger and pen input. Infrared touch frames are now also able to distinguish between pen and finger input. Many can also recognize pens and objects based on colour and even text and print. Whilst individual displays tend to rely on other solutions for touch (due to the size of the touch frame), these new features now make infrared touch interesting for power walls. Flatfrog is a key player here and looked to be further expanding its market position with its InGlass technology with almost every well-known manufacturer now using this technology.
  • An interesting development is the new In-Cell touch technology, which LG presented in an 86” display. This technology is also used in the new Microsoft Surface Hub 2. Thanks to the flat design, this technology has been found in smartphones for some time now. Combined with active pens and pressure strength detection, it offers numerous input options. Edge-to-edge touch surfaces are possible with minimal frames and importantly this technology is very insensitive to incorrect entries due to jacket cuffs, insects etc.
  • (You can find more detail on the different touch technologies here in our blog post).

Ultra-close range projections, signage displays and IoT

  • As much as interactive displays have evolved, there was little that was new to interactive ultra-close distance projectors. With a screen diagonal of about 100″, many applications with a Full HD resolution have reached their visual limits. Especially considering the reduced viewing distance of interactive systems.
  • In terms of interactivity, HOYLU has introduced a 5.7 m wide PCAP film. However, this was obviously still in beta status and can currently only be implemented with softedge projection and can currently only be realized at the expense of the resolution.
  • Nureva presented PCAP projection screens with a size of 100″, which can be clustered in groups of 4 from one workstation; without pen recognition the setup and operation are very user-friendly.
  • Coretronic, the actual innovator for interactive UST projectors, (used by Nureva, HOYLU, Dell and Optoma, among others) was only represented at the Optoma booth, and did not preview any new solutions.
  • There was little new to see in signage touch displays. We noted that in a number of cases, the processing quality of the solutions showed weaknesses. For some manufacturers, the distances between the panel and the protective glass is so large that parallax errors occur during input. Additionally, with some manufacturers these distances clouded the image, allowing shadows and reflections to become clearly visible. For higher requirements, it is often necessary to resort to solutions from companies such as MMT, Interactive Scape.
    IoT: Avocor and Sharp equipped their Windows Collaboration Displays with sensors. However, the solutions are dependent on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. This obviously creates difficulties in terms of IT security and data protection. It is also important to understand what information is to be gathered how it is collated and what is done with it once collated!!

Challenge: Touch does not equal touch

  • The topic of interactive solutions has become very complex especially for collaboration applications in companies, touch really does not equal touch! The differences lie in the operating concepts and in the quality of the processing. These both have a large influence on usability and therefore on user acceptance. A properly conducted, measured and precisely evaluated proof of concept is absolutely essential.
  • Quality differences in terms of haptics and usability result from glass etching and optical bonding between panel and protective glass. Glass etching is not only key for anti-reflective coating, but also for the feel for the user when using finger input. If this is too “sticky”, finger gestures such as zoom cannot be performed cleanly. We found there were some manufacturers who definitely have some catching up to do.
  • Optical bonding is also neglected in some cases. For displays with pen recognition, optical bonding is a must, otherwise it is not possible to work accurately. Most manufacturers have understood this and have improved, Like Dell with their new 75″ 4K screen with InGlass technology. Sharp also has a good bonding in its displays, however, with regard to haptics there still appear to be some issues with the etching.
  • The widespread use of Flatfrog’s InGlass technology brings its own challenges. Flatfrog is currently creating individual firmware for each display manufacturer. Each manufacturer has its own operating concept and uses the possibilities of pen recognition, eraser and palm interpretation in different ways. This makes usability more difficult and can reduce user acceptance. Our experience is that users want uniform operating concepts across their working environments. These differences also make selection more difficult. This is especially true in larger companies wanting to provide a consistent user experience and user interface across multiple locations, while mixing different sizes displays from different vendors.
  • These differences do make more difficult to evaluate the right hardware for collaboration applications that use finger and pen recognition.

Recommendation of the macom experts

  • “New interactive systems, should first be evaluated against specific use cases, applications and content. Regardless of whether you opt for interactive displays or ultra-close projectors. (Content first also applies to signage displays!). When planning collaboration spaces, you should also evaluate the hardware and software with regard to user experience and perform a fully detailed and measured proof of concepts.”
    Simon Badr, AV Senior Consultant and expert for Collaboration & Interaction, macom Group
  • “Only when the use cases and the user requirements have been fully recorded should the selection of hardware and software be considered. It also makes sense to test the technology. In our macomLAB we have recreated different kinds of use cases with various interactive systems and software applications. These can be tested in workshops. In addition, hardware and software shoot-outs are also carried out and prove extremely useful for our clients. “
    Ivonne Kubitza, AV Consultant and contact person for interactive systems in the macom Group

Visual Collaboration: Hype topic of the past years – but what’s the next step?

As a hype topic of recent years, Collaboration clearly moved into calmer waters at this year’s ISE. There were no major milestones or advancements to see. Instead, the software manufacturers concentrate on further improving their systems and adding useful features to meet use case and product strategy. Some software providers also presented their own interactive display solutions or those offered by certified partners in conjunction with their own. Microsoft was represented with the new Windows Collaboration Displays from Avocor and Sharp, Google again with its own Jamboard and Cisco with the Webex Board, this time also in 85‘‘.

What was new?
We were able to identify three approaches and further developments of existing tools.

  1. Manufacturers who specialize in certain applications and use cases and further improve their systems: For a higher usability, some deliberately do without features that are not necessary for their specific approach and use cases. These systems can be more suited to users who are less familiar with or new to collaboration applications. These systems are designed to meet the goal of every user to be able to get started easily. If additional functions are required, further systems can be added in modular approach or integrated via different interfaces.
  2. Other providers, such as DEON, try to cover as many use cases as possible and implement many features in one system. With this approach, they are more likely to target power users who are more familiar with the systems. If these systems are used in workshops with a presenter who is familiar with the technology they provide very powerful tools.
  3. In addition, the major UCC vendors have enriched their systems with more collaboration features. Microsoft, and Cisco are following this path Microsoft with its Office365 UCC application MS Teams and Cisco with its Webex Teams. They have supplemented their UC systems with applications such as sticky notes, whiteboards. With its Google Hangout-Meet, Google also showed a UCC solution with good features for collaboration, with the only requirement being that the Google G Suite is used.
    For standard applications, the UCC systems of the major manufacturers work well. It remains to be seen whether they will prevail against the smaller suppliers because of their market power. For the smaller manufacturers it will definitely be more difficult. One strategy might be to concentrate on certain use cases with niche solutions and to enable integration into the UCC platforms wherever possible.

Challenges during operation

  • Whichever approach is chosen, there are other aspects that need to be considered. For example, compatibility with other systems such as UCC solutions, interactive displays or wireless presentation solutions is elementary. The question however is how these systems can be combined meaningfully? What does the collaboration with the interactive display hardware look like? (As already mentioned, some manufacturers are now offering their own hardware solutions). The leading UCC platforms also continue to open up API interfaces for a wide variety of software applications, which improves the interaction with these platforms. One thing is very clear. In order to achieve consistent operation and maximum productivity from the collaboration applications, a consistent strategy is needed.
  • For companies with security-relevant data, the question of hosting always plays a role in selection. While in the past providers have increasingly relied on the cloud, this year we saw the increasing popularity of hosting applications in a private cloud or as an on premise product on internal servers. Many providers have also improved user administration bringing obvious benefits to large companies in particular.
  • Content Flow is another important aspect of the integration. It is imperative that there are as few content breaks as possible. If the relevant data has to be transferred from your own computer to a collaboration display, by USB stick for example, usability and user acceptance can really suffer.

Recommendation of the macom experts

  • “When introducing collaboration applications, the work processes as well as the work and communication culture in a company must be taken into account, far more than in other media technology areas. If, for example, access rights are too restrictive or there is no open communication culture, then solutions are often doomed to fail from the start. The same impact is also experienced by corporate IT requirements. In our consulting activities, we often see that clients have in the past purchased expensive hardware only to find that their internal processes and security did not allow it to be used either at all or only in a very limited way. It is important to record all stakeholder requirements and use cases to create a balanced and transparent image of the desired future for all stakeholders. This forms the basis for the evaluation and selection of the right collaboration application. In larger companies in particular, a collaboration strategy in which both technology and operational standards are developed makes sense. Technical and usability tests of the systems are also extremely important. This holistic and strategic approach provides users with a comprehensive service that creates real productivity this is fully integrated into workflows and IT and ultimately take less time to be fully adopted by all. One of our core services is to advise companies on the development of these important strategies and standards. In addition, if companies do not have the internal resources or space we provide the space and resources for customers to test different systems in our macomLAB to help discover which system best suits their requirements and processes.“
    Christian Schweizer, Head of Business Innovation macom Group

What were the interesting solutions at ISE 2019? Have a look at our videos from the show.


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Next week, we continue with the third in our series of ISE trend blog posts. Want to be permanently informed and up to date? Then follow our social media channels.

Until next week,
Martin C. Wagner
Head of Marketing macom Group

Your macom subejct matter experts at ISE 2019 were:

  • Simon Badr, AV Senior Consultant and Expert for Collaboration & Interaction, macom Group
  • Ivonne Kubitza AV Consultant and contact person for interactive systems, macom Group
  • Christian Schweizer, Head of Business Innovation, macom Group

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