As a proud Kentucky native, I look forward to the Kentucky Derby every year. The hats, the pageantry, the mint juleps, the horses – it’s all just an incredible spectacle for the best 2:30 (approx.) seconds in sports. For your information Secretariat ran it in less than read more
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you and say I’m a little glad the E4 events have wrapped up. It has been a busy year for the Almo team and we are all ready for a breather. Not so fast – Chicago is March 22nd and San Jose is April 19th (deep cleansing breathe). It’s time to reflect on the top 5 moments of the E4 2016 tour:
Top Moments of 2016 E4 AV Tour
We wrapped up 2016 with a bang by becoming the first AV distributor to live stream a CTS RU certified course on Facebook. With over 100 online attendees, we were excited to extend the education of the E4 beyond the Dallas, TX area to the whole world.
2. Almo Services Offering Launches
Although we introduced Almo Connect in late 2015, the first time Almo customers got to really learn about it was at the E4 in Atlanta. In talking about the bandwidth needs in the 4K keynote, it was a perfect foray into conversations about reselling Almo Connect services. Next we launched Almo Control at the Boston event, our new control systems programming.
3. E4 Experience Launches
We take feedback from the tour very seriously. One aspect that was missing from E4 was a more hands-on approach to product learning. So we launched the E4 Experience with two “experience rooms” – Design a Huddle Space and Create & Publish Digital Signage Content. Each experience was sold out for every event.
4. World’s First Keynote in True 4K
Last year Gary Kayye came to me and said he had a “killer” keynote idea. To present the keynote about 4K IN 4K! We did it with some magic from Barco in Atlanta and rocked the house. I’ve never had so many comments about an E4 keynote about how much they learned about 4K and all the myths dispelled.
While in the middle of planning two E4 events, we were also gearing up for the acquisition of IAVI in April and announced the news to our vendors at what they thought was an appreciation event but ended up being more of a press conference. Surprise – we just doubled in size! Very exciting times!
Just because the tour is over doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! Check out our recorded classes, including Gary’s Keynote where you can STILL earn CTS RU’s, our videos, blogs and photos.
I’m a huge fan of the park service and visit them quite frequently. This summer I’m headed to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. My idea of camping is with a full service hotel and restaurant but I do like it when there’s no TV and no cell phone reception, which was the case on my visit to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Check out these pictures of ancient Pueblo Indian dwellings from yours truly.
This year the National Park Service is celebrating its 100 anniversary in August and there have been lots of stories on the news providing coverage on the celebratory activities throughout the country. A few weeks ago, NPR did a segment on how sound engineers are going deep into the parks to record the natural soundscapes of streams, waterfalls, animals and all parts of nature that make our parks so spectacular. I was thinking about all those kids that grow up wanting to be a park ranger, then get into a band in high school carting around their own A/V equipment. Then through a turn of events, they end up in the A/V industry. Well guess what? Apparently you can do both!
One thing that was particularly interesting are the studies they are doing on how humans and our sound pollution affect the animals. The bio acoustical scientist in the interview, Kurt Fristrup, explained that just a few changes in decibels can have a great effect on their ability to hunt.
“Imagine you’re an owl looking for your dinner,” Fristrup said. “A three decibel increase in sound level cuts in half the area in which you could hear those sounds,” he said. “So you are half as efficient in finding food, with a relatively subtle increase in background sound level.”
Click Here to read the entire interview or download the segment.
I wrote several months ago about one of the most impressive large displays of techorating I’ve ever encountered at the Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia. These massive installations and others with image mapping on buildings have been covered in all the major AV outlets and yes, they are impressive. But for the average dealer, techorating may seem like an area that’s out of reach. Well I have a little case study that just might get you thinking about how you can use flat panels or projection to change the atmosphere of a space, even in just a small way.
I just finished a vacation in Puerto Rico on a more remote part of the island, which was very relaxing and beautiful. But after five days on the beach, I was ready to explore. And my husband heard those three little words that every man wants to hear “Let’s go shopping” (of course, I’m being totally sarcastic).
Into Old San Juan we go because he’s just a good sport like that and after brunch we start hitting the shops. It was blazing hot so for a little respite and a clean restroom, I suggested we visit the Museo Del Mar – Museum of the Sea.
It has an impressive collection of memorabilia of some of the most momentous highlights of nautical history, from both the modern and contemporary eras. It also holds the Guinness Book of World Records title as home to the largest display of original life preservers – from different ships – in the entire world. Real estate in Old San Juan is a premium, so it was not a big space. They were using several 32” Samsung displays to show videos of nautical history.
Off to the side was a lovely door with a port hole. I’m sure it was a door to administrative offices but instead of leaving it plain with a boring sign saying “employees only”, they used a tiny bit of techorating to mimic the sea – check out this video:
Pretty cool, huh? There was audio as well with simply sounds of the ocean to give it a little ambiance. Nothing spectacular, nothing difficult but nonetheless, it lent a little more of the nautical atmosphere to a small space.
Take the Samsung SmartSignage platform that comes in the small 10” form factor with power over ethernet. Where could this tiny digital signage fit in your next installation? Or a 22” perhaps on an end cap? The possibilities for Tiny Digital Signage are really endless. All you have to do is use your imagination and show the customer how digital signage or techorating can make a big difference even in small spaces. Adios for now!
I just returned from a much needed vacation in Puerto Rico at the Wyndham Rio Mar resort. This property recently completed a $500M addition of Wyndham vacation condos in partnership with his royal beach-iness and head Parrot, Jimmy Buffet. The Margaritaville themed portion of the resort was impressive and had that cool Buffet laid-back vibe. As a marketer, I’m amazed at how this artist, who hasn’t had a record on the charts in the last couple of decades (save collaborations Zac Brown and Alan Jackson), has managed to become a global brand commanding licensing agreements from everything to restaurants, merchandising and now resorts.
The outdoor cabana with swim up pool was the centerpieces of the resort, appropriately named Margaritaville. You even got your own mondo margarita cup shaped like, you guessed it, a blender!
Hanging above the bar was a gorgeous installation of SunBriteTV’s, made to withstand the heat, humidity, wind and sand rolling off the beach just a few feet away. Trust me when I say it’s humid down there and the TV’s looked fantastic. Note that the clock on the wall is always on 5 o’clock.
We just had training from the very smart folks at SunBriteTV who reiterated that there are very real safety concerns with putting consumer TV’s outside. Forget about there being no warranty, or that the picture will be terrible in a matter of months, or that you can’t view those TV’s in direct sunlight. If you are working with a restaurant owner who wants to go on the cheap with his outdoor TV’s, tell him to call his insurance company and get a rider for electrocution for TV’s that aren’t UL certified for outdoor use. Maybe that will get him thinking. Business owners need peace of mind that their customers will be safe and happy. Use SunBriteTV and you can chill and go to your happy place – kind of like this…
I am a proud alumnus of the University of Kentucky and as such, a huge college basketball fan. I followed in the footsteps of the uber fan, Ashley Judd and started as a French major. I quickly decided to double major in marketing because the prospects of finding a job with just a French degree didn’t seem to grow on trees. I certainly wasn’t following Ashley any further than the UK Campus and into Hollywood.
As proof of my loyalty, here I am last year at the National Championship in Indianapolis. For those of you who don’t follow or just don’t remember, Kentucky was undefeated going into the finals and on the threshold of history. Alas, they lost in the first round and now on to a new year of basketball.
Fast forward to February 2016 and I’m in Amsterdam at the ISE show, the largest Audio Visual show in the world. After taking in the show, my colleague and I decided to sample of the local fare. I asked my friend Sara Abrons from rAVe publications and she commenced with a small history lesson to explain her recommendation.
Indonesia was a Dutch colony back in the day and to brag about their conquest, they wanted to showcase the breadth of spices imported from the colony. This came in the form of an Indonesia “tasting table” which is not Indonesian at all but the result of the peacock feathered bragging meal made palatable for the Dutch and now I’m sure for the tourists like myself.
Presented with about 20 plates and a warming tray, we dove in to a wonderful display. It was a small place with a varied décor – suffice it to say kind of like an Indonesian/Dutch TGI Friday’s with all sorts of pictures, signs and license plates on the walls. I’m looking at these licensed plates and notice some of them are from America when suddenly, I see a familiar face next to the Oliver North for President:
I say to my colleagues, “That’s a UK license plate!” He contends it has to be from the United Kingdom. I remind him that all four years at UK, I worked as a cashier at Kennedy Book Store and rang up THOUSANDS of those plates! Upon further examination, it was confirmed.
Walking back to the hotel (or should I say rolling after 20 courses of Indonesian tasting plate), we are rounding the corner which is adjacent to the MOMO restaurant. By day it’s a sun drenched breakfast nook. By night, it becomes a swanky restaurant/club. Curious, I look through the window at the D.J. Low and behold:
The guy is wearing a Kentucky Wildcats shirt! I tell my colleague that we have to go in and get photographic evidence because no one would believe me. I walk in and the hostess asked me if I had a reservation and I told her, “I’m with the D.J”
They guy was surprised when I ran up to him, complimenting his shirt. He said he got it at a second hand clothing shop in Amsterdam and didn’t even know what it was. He liked the color. I tried to explain it was the greatest college basketball team in the U.S. but I could tell it was no use. It was, in fact, a good color on him. Go Wildcats!
It’s especially nice when the manufacturers plan their distributor summits in a nice warm location during the dead of February. Such was the case this month with Samsung in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. Distributors, resellers and DMR’s gathered to hear the vision to 2016 and beyond, while seeing some of the latest product developments.
One of the greatest things about these functions is the networking aspect. You’re surrounded by customers, the manufacturer’s folks and even your friendly competitors (and if you are lucky a celebrity or two). The opening reception kicked off this portion of the conference. Here I am rubbing elbows with George Gervin from the San Antonio Spurs (left) and Director, US B2B Distribution for Samsung, Tom Perrier (right):
A lot of the conversations revolved around the ever-present dilemma of shrinking and sometimes even razor thin margins on displays in both the Pro and especially consumer markets. I think Samsung has got some new things up their sleeve that may be impactful for their partners as to help with the margin issue. More on that later. Now speaking of razor….
I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and even though I consider myself a season traveler, inevitable I forget something. This time it was a razor so I went down to the JW Marriott gift shop. Filled with cowboy hats, sombreros, ponchos, hot sauces and other Texas sized treats, it was your typical gift shop. I grabbed my usual brand from the stand, went up to the register and the cashier said, “That will be $20.12”. WHAT???!! $20.12 for one disposable razor?
I said no thanks and started to wonder…in this age of fighting declining margins in our industry, how is it that a commodity product like the razor can command 3000% mark up? Location, location, location. Resourcefulness took me to the spa and they ponied up a razor at no charge.
On to the Samsung Product Showcase – in usually Samsung fashion they never disappoint when it comes to new product development. It was good to see some of the concept things coming to fruition such as:
The transparent display which holds a multitude of applications such as retail and anywhere the end user just basically wants to be uber swank.
The mirror display which they showed in a retail setting with RF technology in clothing and shoes that dynamically changed when the user took them to the mirror. Here is our Business Development Manager extraordinaire, Apryl Lamberti taking it for a spin.
Outdoor displays – not just ruggedized, coated and cased back- lit LED panels but..
Surfs’up! Samsung’s YESCO acquisition last year brings the new outdoor LED.
Finally the indoor LED was quite a hit. Here is Apryl examining the type of panel used to make the video wall in the background.
I think the future looks bright with the new LED products (no pun intended). What Samsung was showing are solutions that require an ecosystem of services, which is where the margin lies and value to our partners. The opportunity for services such as content creation, can create that long-term relationship with a customer, long past the sale of the display.
First, if you haven’t heard of the term “techorating”, it’s not something I made up. I thought I had but after I asked my dear friends Alan and Jonathan Brawn to write a course for our E4 AV Tour on this trend I was calling techorating, they discovered it was not an original. Techorating was a catchy term coined back in 2008 by interior designer, Doug Wilson from the TLC TV show Trading Spaces, as a concept for the emergence of integrating home technology and home decor in balance with one another. Since the Brawn’s taught this course for us a few years ago, the term caught on it the AV industry and has been written about in nearly every major AV publication, including a recent article in Digital Signage Today.com. I’ve seen a lot of great examples of techorating, especially in Las Vegas where designers and architects continue to push the limits to wow audiences, attract visitors and keep us coming back for more shows, casinos, long cab lines and the ever-present linger of 2nd hand smoke. Which is why my visit to Comcast last week was filled with techorating awesomeness! It was an experience like no other, elegantly done with a playful yet bold approach – and 100% smoke free. You enter the lobby on JFK Boulevard in downtown Philadelphia, which is the tallest building in the city, and at first it looks like any other normal lobby: Nice ashy oak walls, silver accents, very clean and polished look. But wait, something starts to happen and… It’s not just a wall! It’s an intergalactic force to be reckoned with. No wait, it’s a water wall! Cool stuff, right? It’s the attention to detail as well that struck me. Much of the content intertwines with the wall architecture, creating virtual joints in the places where the LED panels “join” – you can see from this shot that part of the image is a real joint and the other is silver colored pixels. You may be wondering what I was doing lingering in the Comcast lobby. I was there on official business but I can tell you that this is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Philadelphia, so it’s not uncommon to see all sorts of people in their lobby. We launched our new Almo Connect service for our resellers to offer bandwidth, cable TV and voice services to their customers and Comcast is one of our partners (along with many other top cable providers). Why would our partners offer bandwidth services? Think about if you’re doing a digital signage deployment and you plan on refreshing high resolution content on a daily or weekly basis. You need LOTS of bandwidth! And for future proofing, think about 4K – now you’re talking BIG data coming across a network. And of course the IT people are like, “no way, not on my network!” And you’re like, “no big deal, we offer high speed internet and we can take care of everything.” Voila – the reseller makes monthly reoccurring revenue on that sale – that’s right – every single month. But back to the techorating – here’s a very cool video so you can see how they use different parts of the wall for entertainment, like this “cubical” video:
Kudos to the designers and especially to the content creators. The convergence of architecture, decorating, digital display, graphic arts done spectacularly well and I didn’t even have to walk through a casino to see it.
I’ve been waiting patiently since October to write about one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in a long time – our visit to Bose Corporate Headquarters in Boston. For those of you who have been in the Pro AV industry a long time, you hear the words “factory tour” and you have flash backs of walking miles in hot warehouses, speeches about operational excellence and those signs that read “No Accidents in 213 days!”. This was not the case at Bose, which started at the uber impressive Wall of Patents (which was actually not a wall but a long corridor because there are SO many of them) . I asked our tour guide where he had been before Bose, thinking he would name another audio company and he said, “Finishing my Ph.D at Harvard”. Suffice it to say there are A LOT of REALLY brilliant people at Bose engineering A LOT of brilliant technology.
I had no idea there was an actual Dr. Bose before my trip. He was a professor at MIT and fostered a culture of research, excellence and courage to try new things. You immediately get this strong sense of culture when talking to anyone working there, which thanks to Dr. Bose, remains a privately held company that is dedicated to R&D. We saw it in action in, of all places, the shuttle bus! Look, it’s the Almo event at Bose!
And then, there is a specially designed seat on the shuttle with Bose seat suspension technology, the smoothest ride on the road. Here’s our Director of Business Development, Brian Rhatigan experiencing the ride:
This was the tip of the iceberg. The day was filled with all sorts of amazing experiences.
Ever imagine being in an underground bunker with a couple of hundred speakers going at full blast just to see at what point they fail? Been there, done that.
Ever imagine seeing speakers baked, sea salted, cooled, dropped, kicked, stretched and stressed to the absolute limit? Been there, done that too. You can’t believe the trials and tribulation they put their products through! All to make sure they are providing you with the highest quality products, even in the most outrageous of conditions.
Here we are at the end of the tour in a room that blocks all sorts of signals for specialized testing. Don’t ask me to explain it because after all, I’m in marketing. That’s why we have our audio BDM extraordinare, Rob Ziv.
I can’t tell you how excited we are to partner with Bose. And I think our dealers are going to be very impressed with the level of excellence, innovation and support from the folks at Bose plus our team of highly trained account managers. Take a look at Bose’s microsite for learn more.
It’s the Friday before InfoComm and all through the office, last minute preparations are being made for the big show. Justin the graphics master is on the phone with Freeman. Chris our intern extraordinaire is packing up a big suitcase of other “stuff” to bring with him that was left behind or not ready for the truck. Kelly our marketing manager trying to find an app to integrate with SalesForce to scan badges. Julene our logistics person is sending us pictures from Las Vegas of our sign being hung and floor laid (poor thing is already out there in 108 degree heat). And I am writing a blog because we said we were going to blog about InfoComm. So here it is!
There’s so much planning that goes into this event. When I walk into the booth on Monday and see the cases and boxes stacked up, I’ll be thinking – OMG there’s no way we’re going to have all this done by Wednesday morning. However, on Wednesday morning I know I will walk in to a spectacular booth filled with incredible installations of our Digital Canvas Collection. I know this because we have the best, most dedicated team of individuals that will work tirelessly to make it a memorable experience for our resellers.
See you in Las Vegas!!