Mike Blackman, Managing Director of ISE, shares in the following interview the technological insights that will shape tomorrow.
Considering that next year marks the 20th anniversary of ISE, how would you describe its evolution and contribution to the audiovisual sector over these two decades?
When we launched Integrated Systems Events in the spring 2003, our team of three did the marketing, the sales and the logistics. We had support from the team at InfoComm (or AVIXA as they are now) for administration and accounting, but we did everything else locally. We started putting everything together to put a show on in January 2004. Now, there’s a whole team behind ISE.
The show has grown each year, and we couldn’t have done it without the hard work and immense dedication from our team. I think at the beginning, ISE was just the place where a lot of people brought their new products to market. In our first two years, all the product launches were happening at InfoComm in the US in June. What we've seen is a change in the R&D process in that more and more companies are focusing their product launches for January, February. Now for display companies it makes a lot of sense because they're taking some equipment to CES in the US and then shipping it straight to ISE afterwards. So they are getting in a couple of weeks the opportunity to launch products in two continents. We see the same for our pro audio companies as well. It helps them to present their products in the marketplace.
I think ISE is moving towards a stage where it will start to influence what's actually happening in industry. I don't think we're there yet quite yet. But it certainly gives the opportunity for companies to do market research with customers and potential customers to find out what they want and learn.
How do you envision the long-term impact that ISE will have on Spain in general and Barcelona in particular, as a key center for innovation and development in the audiovisual and systems integration industry?
ISE’s move to Barcelona received a phenomenal reaction from the city. Reaction from the city politicians, from the local and regional government, has been overwhelming. They're all 100% behind us and immediately reached out to say, “What can we do to help?” We've never had this anywhere else.
What we're seeing now is in the city itself, people are hearing about ISE and understanding a bit more about what we're about. And you see even more excitement now coming as the city welcomes us and gets involved. We’ve seen other institutions, a lot of places where they're using AV, getting in touch and saying, “How can we get involved, how can we be part of this, how can we support you?” So again, a big welcome and something which is spreading out in the city.
In celebration of our 20 years, we also are planning a number of special activities throughout Barcelona, including extending our partnership with the Barcelona Llum lighting festival which takes place in February.
ISE 2023 was a huge success and we are delighted to proactively contribute to Barcelona’s economy. Our goal is to build a lasting legacy in the city, alongside our local partners, and help consolidate the audiovisual ecosystem in the country, while bringing the positive effects of the audiovisual solutions to the citizens.
The show has contributed €385 million to Barcelona's economy, according to a recent study that has calculated the economic impact of the 2023 edition. This encompasses a direct economic impact of €243 million, and an indirect of €142 million. ISE 2023 took place from January 31 to February 3 in Barcelona and had a total of 58,107 attendees from 155 different countries, who spent a total of €130 million during their time in the city.
Following ISE's move to Barcelona, a range of AV companies have set up offices in the city, such as B-Tech, Lang, Aztec, Midwich, Lightware, InFiLED or LiveU, enriching the local audiovisual landscape.
When relocating ISE to Barcelona in 2020, you mentioned in an interview that Amsterdam was a good city for the fair but became too small for the scale of ISE. As you rightly pointed out, Barcelona is perfect due to its strategic position as a hub in Southern Europe and Northern Africa. How has this decision influenced the growth and international projection of ISE? To what extent have Barcelona and, consequently, Spain contributed to this expansion and the strengthening of commercial relationships in the audiovisual and systems integration industry?
Barcelona has everything to offer: a large enough venue that gave us potential to grow, the city that had enough accommodation and the flight accessibility was good. But it also had this other part that some of the other cities didn't have, which is its gastronomy and nightlife, as well as everything else. It had that bit extra that a lot of the other cities didn't have that made it attractive for our attendees.
Organisations like ACCIO and the AV Cluster and the City of Barcelona itself are important partnerships that want to contribute to ISE. ACCIO, which is the development arm of the regional government, takes a big stand, bringing start-ups, bringing new-to-market companies or scale-ups to have exposure as part of ISE and it's also helping us develop other areas within the show. I think you will see in the near future some really strong developments as a result of the local partnerships we'll make.
New for 2024, ISE will present the European / Latin American AV Summit - bridging the two continents with innovation.
ELAS 2024 represents the epitome of cross-continental collaboration, offering a unique platform for technology pioneers from Europe and Latin America to exchange ideas and foster innovative partnerships. We are proud to host key speakers to address the inaugural summit, including Jaume Collboni, Mayor of Barcelona and Javi López, Co-president of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
Considering the positive impact that giant mappings, light projections, etc., have had in past editions, once again, ISE 2024 will sponsor Llum BCN, the festival of light arts. How will this event be integrated into the overall experience for ISE attendees and Barcelona residents? How does this initiative align with ISE's vision to contribute to the cultural and promotional development of Barcelona?
We’ve certainly been a part of some fantastic projects in the past and we look forward to continuing this into the future. We’re proud to be once again sponsoring Llum BCN, festival of the light arts, which takes place in the city during ISE 2024. Head out after dark in the urban Poblenou neighbourhood as it is transformed with light projections, installations, and light sculptures by contemporary artists.
As well as visiting the innovative lighting installments throughout the neighbourhood, we’re also organising an expanded programme of tours taking visitors behind the scenes of major AV installations in Barcelona. Following great success in 2023, the Tech Tours are a great way to see technologies from the ISE show floor deployed in practice.
As a novelty for 2024, ISE has expanded its size and specialized areas. The lighting and staging zone, located in Pavilion 1, features over 60 exhibitors, covering everything from lighting and control equipment to holography. Could you share some outstanding innovations and solutions that attendees can expect to find in this area, and how do they contribute to creating memorable experiences?
With 2024 set to be the largest ISE show to date, our extensive Technology Zones are expanding across the Fira de Barcelona, Gran Vía to accommodate the rapid growth of visitors and exhibitors. New for 2024 will be the use of Hall 1 which will be the new home of Lighting & Staging.
Spread across 3133m², over 60 exhibitors will showcase lighting and lighting control, rigging and staging equipment, motion tracking, video mapping, holography and more.This zone will be full of solutions to create memorable experiences and immersive journeys, from small temporary venues and events right up to major stadium concerts. Exhibiting companies include: MA Lighting, ARRI, Chauvet Professional, Ayrton, Cameo (a brand of the Adam Hall Group) and Elation Professional Europe. When it comes to what innovations they’ll be showcasing, well, you’ll have to join us in Barcelona and see with your own eyes!
In addition, there is a Lighting & Staging Pavilion in Hall 4 as an extension of Hall 1, providing visitors with an additional 500sqm of exciting exhibits.
The distribution of the exhibition grounds into seven technological zones in ISE 2024 facilitates attendees' visits, covering everything from lighting and staging to audio and digital signage. How do you expect this organization to improve the visitors' experience and promote a comprehensive approach to the industry?
The Technology Zones on the show floor serve to group related technologies and make it easier for attendees to explore specific areas of interest. Exhibitors also benefit from being clustered together, fostering collaboration, and attracting visitors with complementary needs. The full list of Technology Zones for ISE 2024 is:
- Lighting & Staging (Hall 1)
- Residential & Smart Building (Hall 2)
- Unified Communications & Education Technology (Hall 2)
- Multi-Technology (Halls 3, 4 & 5)
- Content Production & Distribution (Hall 4)
- Digital Signage & DooH (Hall 6)
- Audio (Hall 7)
- Plus ISE Sound Experience with Audio Demo Rooms in Hall 8.0 and ISE Outdoor Sound Experience, located between Hall 3 and 4
Given the importance of the intercontinental collaboration represented by ELAS 2024, what are the key expectations and goals for technological pioneers from Europe and Latin America to exchange ideas and foster innovative partnerships during the event?
High-tech innovation in Europe and Latin America is paving the way for unprecedented collaboration and commerce between the two vibrant regions. As mentioned, ISE will be exploring these opportunities in a new summit on 30-31 January 2024.
ELAS 2024 is set to be a vital platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and developing new business opportunities between Europe and Latin America in the AV and digital industries. The inaugural European / Latin American AV Summit, supported by ACCIO - Catalonia Trade & Investment, promises to unite government representatives, thought leaders, and industry giants to foster understanding, strengthen connections, and ignite innovation across continents.
Additional ELAS 2024 speakers include Martin Saul, CEO ICAP Global, Chairman of the AVIXA Board of Directors; Paco Guzman, META AI; Federico Bausone, Executive Director, Crestron Latin America; Christina De Bono, Founder and President, SAVe Sustainability; and Sean Wargo, Vice President, Market Intelligence, AVIXA alongside top government Latin American and European Union representatives.
Session topics will include an overview of the AV market and AV industry trends in Latin America and the rest of the world; the EU-LAC (European Union - Latin America and the Caribbean) Foundation and its projects; and the EU-LAC Global Gateway Investment Agenda (GGIA).
With the audiovisual industry constantly evolving, how has ISE adapted to the latest trends, and what are the highlighted novelties that we can expect at ISE 2024?
We’re seeing that throughout the venues sector, audio, video and lighting play an increasingly important role in attracting and delighting visitors. The venues sector spans a wide range of facility types, but what they have in common is an increasing dependence on audio, video and lighting to help deliver unforgettable experiences to paying customers.
Increasingly, venues are looking to engage with audience members via their personal devices during their visit, as well as offering content before and afterwards through apps and streaming media. Visitors to ISE 2024 can expect to find out more about a raft of technologies now reshaping the venues market, for example: spatial audio (such as beamforming) allows for precise shaping and steering of beams in two dimensions, enabling the creation of sound fields that optimally cover audience areas of any shape or size. It enables precise sound localisation for the production of realistic and immersive soundscapes. Nothing says ‘wow’ louder than the display itself, and the technology to deliver ultra-high-fidelity video to IMAG or super-sized IMAX style screens is advancing all the time. Further facilitating the digital experience are interactive screens that engage the visitor, amplify their experience, and provide valuable data points for the venue owner.
This special 20th anniversary edition of ISE will be our biggest ever event, with an expanded show floor which is already 17% bigger than last year, two new halls, over 80 new exhibitors currently confirmed and several special features and attractions to mark the occasion, including an Anniversary Treasure Hunt.
We also are planning a number of special activities throughout Barcelona, including extending our partnership with the Barcelona Llum lighting festival – watch out for more news in the coming weeks.
In terms of ISE as a show, it will only get bigger and better. AV covers so many areas of our lives and technology continues to evolve that each and every year brings new and exciting things.