In the weeks leading up to the opening of the 2024 edition of ISE Barcelona, the expectations and anticipation were many and, truth be told, we already knew what would be waiting for us at the Gran Via Fira.
Already last year the influx of visitors was considerable, but at this round, at certain peak hours and a few areas in particular, real traffic jams were created, something we had not seen in years and perhaps had never even seen…
To give you a concrete idea, already on the evening of the first day talking to some of the organization’s contacts we found out that the daily entries had already surpassed those of the year before by one and a half times and, by the look of it, the remaining days went even better. Sensation confirmed by the official numbers at the end of the event: 73,891 unique visitors from 162 countries (up 27 percent from the 2023 edition) and 51,617 visitors on Wednesday, January 31, the highest number ever recorded in a single day. The total number of registrations reached 95,396 with 172,627 visits over the four days. During the last day of the fair, there were 24,528 visitors, a record since it became a four-day event. Finally, the fair recorded the highest number of exhibitors (1,408) and the largest exhibition area (82,000 square meters net).
To date, companies are competing to come to Barcelona, and re-booking appointments had already begun even before the doors opened.
So, in this context, it is quite obvious to speak of general, across-the-board success, a success that goes hand in hand with the general health of the market, which is holding up very well despite the many difficulties related to the precarious international balance.
To make it simple, even just looking at the turnovers of companies with public budgets, very interesting figures immediately jump to the eye, often higher and growing than in previous years, even the “good” ones.
Obviously at ISE there is a distinction to be made between what is the Professional Entertainment and Integrated Systems markets because in fact it is our opinion that, despite the efforts made and the steps forward, a real and tangible convergence is still not there. The risk is that players in the Entertainment market will focus on the audio and lighting pavilions (this year far apart), while System integrators will continue to attend their world showing little interest in professional audio and lighting technologies.
This is a pity because, having the time and willingness, there would be many things to discover, but in such a large and dispersed fair the risk is, precisely, to focus on the “usuals.”
For this reason, we have tried to understand where and how real integration and convergence between technologies can be found, and in our view, the most interesting aspects are related to automations, intelligent tracking systems, multi-purpose signals, and once again, AI, a powerful technology that – contrary to what we had seen last year – is actually beginning to be truly utilized and “understood” in some sectors, such as the AV and broadcast.
The efforts on the part of some companies have not been lacking, and although we will discuss this further in the upcoming articles, let’s try to provide some examples of ‘integration.’ Among these GLP which, while remaining in the lighting sphere, with Agilio has combined the concept of track installation light with the movement of the fixture by passing the DMX signal through the voltage cables, and still companies such as Follow-Me or Aumovis that have extended the possibilities given by the tracking system to the audio and video worlds respectively, and again LG with its Media Art formed by the combination of 1.9 pitch LED panels and Kinetic technology giving rise to a huge display that is truly 3D.
At ISE Barcelona, the presence of AI in AV applications was evident. Among the examples, Zoom released a new generative AI assistant (AI Companion) for its collaboration platform; Crestron’s new PTZ 1 Beyond cameras have built-in Visual AI to frame meeting participants in the room; and WolfVision’s Cynap Videobar combines BYOD wireless presentation technology with a 4K AI camera and beamforming array microphone.
All in all, given the numbers and feedback from various exhibitors, ISE is riding the momentum perfectly. Some improvements have been announced for the coming year, such as a better logistical distribution of areas by bringing the lighting pavilion closer to the audio pavilion, and a further expansion of the fair on the north side.
Finally returning to integration in an ethical sense, we appreciated the special collaboration between ISE and the city of Barcelona, with many initiatives such as free tickets to enter the fair and sport throughout the city by public transport, the connection with Llum BCN Festival, the AV Career Day initiative, Sofia Crespo’s Projection Mapping at the Casa Batlló, and again the collaboration with FC Barcelona to offer all fair attendees a 40 percent discount on tickets to soccer matches at the Olympic Stadium and basketball games at the Palau Blaugrana, as well as a Barça Immersive Tour at the FC Barcelona museum.
The next edition of ISE will also be held in Barcelona, from February 4-7, 2025.