From our CEO, Mark Cray:

After attending InfoComm last summer and speaking on an IMCCA panel about the coming of age of interactive displays, I wrote a post-InfoComm blog post about these touchscreen technologies. The topic was fairly fresh in my mind at the time, as we had just deployed 60 interactive touch displays for Brenau University and saw firsthand the level of engagement and interactivity they promoted between students and professors.

I came away from last year’s show feeling excited about what I had seen and the conversations I had with my peers about interactive touch displays. My excitement was somewhat tempered, though, by the nagging thought that there still needed to be more maturation of these new products before they were really ready for prime time. My feeling was – as I said at the close of my panel discussion – that the technology was there, the price point was there, but we still didn’t have the software and system intelligence matured to a point where these devices could be seamlessly and easily utilized by the average user in real-world business situations. We were still missing a huge, important piece which could transform the technology from being something that looks cool and is fun to play with into something that truly redefines collaboration for businesses.

Over the past year, companies like Nureva, Oblong, Planar, InFocus, T1V and others have been hard at work developing innovative new products and releasing enhanced software solutions. We’ve been following these releases all year, some of which have compelled us to establish new partnerships with companies specializing in virtual canvases/workspaces and interactive touch display technologies.

Going into InfoComm this year, I didn’t really expect to see many new things on the show floor that I hadn’t already read about. For me, I wanted to put my hands on and “touch” the latest interactive touch display technologies that I had been reading about or seen demos of throughout the year. I did many formal booth tours, informal booth visits and had some private NDA discussions, and I came to the conclusion that virtual canvases/workspaces and interactive touch display hardware and software are now ready for prime time. Many of these solutions have leaped forward a generation from what I saw last year at InfoComm. Today these solutions are being deployed in real-world applications for things like team collaboration and corporate storytelling.

What has me even more excited is hearing what’s on the roadmap from companies in the interactive technology space. They have really listened to the feedback from their users and clients, and that feedback is being incorporated into their expected releases over the next year. They have a lot of innovative and exciting stuff coming down the pipe, and they are plugging whatever little perceived holes are left in their solutions.

Today interactive displays and touch technologies are coming in many cool form factors, such as:

• Large Touch Displays – over 80 inches
• Touch Displays with built-in PC’s
Touch Video Walls – up to 350” diagonal
Touch Projection – touch projection on virtually any wall
• Transparent OLED Glass Displays – transparent surface glass
Immersive Collaboration Platforms – control using a small wand instead of touch

I personally think interactive displays and touch technologies are some of the most underappreciated devices coming out of the A/V industry right now, as they have the ability to actually change how team collaboration, ideation, presentation, storytelling, etc. is done today. That’s a big thing for the A/V and collaboration industry. So many of the industry’s new products are centered around back-end techie specifications, such as resolution, quality, automation, and the bits and bytes of the components. Not enough of these products are actually driving change in the way we see things and interact with them. I think the interactive displays and touch technologies are doing just that.

I look forward to continuing to dive into these technologies in future blogs, including digging into the differences between the various form factors out there and highlighting a few real-world business applications.