Behind The Scenes: Integrate Expo
The AV industry is a big business, and like many other areas of technology, the thinking is always changing. As an annual meeting place and showcase for companies in the industry to network, learn and display their wares, Integrate has developed into Australia’s biggest AV Expo. Soren Norgaard is the man behind Integrate bringing together many companies and sectors that fall under the broad umbrella that is AV.
How long has Integrate been running?
This year is the eighth expo. For the first six we were in Sydney, last year was in Melbourne and by all accounts it was well received. Certainly a lot of our visitors and exhibitors are keen to go back, so we’re in Sydney again this year and we will then alternate each year.
Can you explain the importance of a show such as this?
The AV industry is reasonably specialised – particularly in the commercial sector. There are a number of verticals within these under the AV umbrella and really I think the industry as a whole wanted a meeting place and a showcase. The concept developed more out of a live focus like entertainment technology, but has slowly evolved more into the commercial AV side of things.
Talking to the cross section of the community, they want a showcase that represents the broad range of the AV industry. Things like audio, digital signage, residential, smart building, unified communications, AV conferencing, automation, content management and distribution, displays, home cinema, interactive displays, LED video walls, lighting controls, multimedia controls, professional audio, security and light safety, streaming media and video projectors. So there are a range of companies represented that would appeal to the real end users as well as the architects, designers and installers. People such as the hands on decision makers for workplaces, government associations, universities and venues.
AV technology is an always evolving beast. Can you give us some ideas of the technologies and brands that will be represented this year?
Technology is rapidly advancing. Things such as image quality and image distribution is a big one. Also the scale of some of these screens. A few years ago you could buy a hi-res screen, whereas now you can get cinema-sized video walls with a 4k resolution at an affordable price. It might have been available a few years ago, but realistically no one could afford it. In general, most of the technologies are becoming more accessible, which is probably why we’re seeing a lot more digital displays in our everyday life. Other advances are obviously in audio with line array speaker systems and much better quality at a lower price, which helps with decision making for businesses. Technologies are also focussing on enabling the distribution of this higher quality content. Obviously here in Australia we’ve had considerations in regards to file sizes and available bandwidth, but advancements are being made to allow high quality images to be distributed in relatively low bandwidth, which is exciting. The automation and control over lighting systems is also advancing rapidly.
And there’s more than just the actual exhibitors?
Of course. There are a number of dedicated information screens on the floor detailing the latest and greatest in these fields. We also have over 70 individual sessions in collaboration with our training partners and guest speakers. These include some very popular and highly regarded speakers from the international stage with great knowledge and insights into where the industry is heading over the next few years.
How does Australia differ from overseas? It must still be quite a large market?
I say this quite often but if you look at our population and geographical location, we’re catering to around 30 million people, if we include New Zealand. Compare that to Europe with a billion people. Integrate attracts over 5000 attendees with 130 odd exhibiting companies. Go to Europe and a similar event will have 1200 exhibiting companies and around 65,000 visitors. Infocom in the USA would have 1000 exhibitors and get around 45 to 50,000 attendees – so we’re doing quite well. We punch above our weight really. We’re also in a marketplace that’s very well connected and because of its size, although many of these companies are competitors, they are united and embrace the industry and this is their annual get together and showcase for the industry. This is obviously great for Integrate, but it also a chance for companies to unite and showcase the latest and greatest.
BY NICK BROWN