Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2024 has come and gone, marking yet another milestone in the world of systems and AV technology. For 4 days (January 30 to February 2), our SFM team joined fellow industry professionals, technology enthusiasts, and innovators from around the globe in Barcelona, Spain, to discover a series of exhibitions, demonstrations, and discussions. Long before the start of the show, ISE organizers had promised it would be bigger than ever and they delivered on that promise in a big way.

2024 marks the event’s 20th anniversary and ISE celebrated in style as it broke its all-time attendance and exhibition records, with a total of over 170,000 visitors and over 1,400 exhibitors—unparalleled numbers from previous years, demonstrating that the systems integration and AV industries are very much alive and well (source: Installation.com). As the curtain closed on this year’s event, it’s no surprise that attendees left with a wealth of experiences, insights, and connections that will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of their businesses and careers.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the record-setting ISE 2024, as seen and experienced by SFM, to explore the groundbreaking technologies, thought-provoking discussions, and transformative trends that defined this unforgettable event.

  1. The Tech Industry is Here to Stay

ISE 2024 exuded vitality, seemingly defying any ominous forecasts that might have been circulating within the tech sphere. Despite occasional murmurs of uncertainty, the prevailing atmosphere was one of optimism—a sentiment we’ve seen evolve over several years of attending similar events.

After engaging in some conversations with industry insiders, a striking realization emerged: there’s a growing recognition of the industry’s shortcomings in delivering dependable user experiences. It’s a belated acknowledgment, but one that’s gaining momentum. There’s now a palpable willingness to address these deficiencies head-on by enlisting specialized expertise in critical areas such as network design, programming, and deployment. This shift signifies a pivotal moment—a commitment to prioritize the end user’s journey and satisfaction. It’s a refreshing departure from the tech-centric mindset that has often overshadowed the human element in past discussions. By embracing this spirit and actively seeking solutions to bridge the gap between technology and user expectations, the industry is poised to chart a more inclusive and user-centric course moving forward.

  1. Newbies

In the bustling environment of the show, countless new products were unveiled. From content production and distribution to digital signage, as well as ranging from lighting and staging to residential and smart buildings and education technology, several standout products did leave an undeniable impression, offering a glimpse into the cutting-edge advancements shaping the industry’s future. Among the many innovations, here are some brands that stood out for their noteworthy offerings:

ShureMicroflex® Wireless neXt 2 and Mircoflex® Advance MXA901
RTIIntelligent Meeting Ecosystem and Audio Distribution Matrices
BlustreamHDBAseTTM  v3 Matrix and next-generation 8K solutions
Q-SYS –  VisionSuite

  1. Can You Hear Me… Now?

Audio at ISE 2024 saw exciting innovations, with Shure leading the charge. Among their noteworthy releases was the debut of the MXA901 Conferencing Ceiling Array Microphone. It boasts a discreet and stylish round form factor that complements any interior design. Not to mention it has enhanced features, such as noise cancellation and single Zone Automatic Coverage™ technology, which captures talkers clearly with no setup. It’s even certified for Zoom and Teams, catering to the evolving needs of remote collaboration.

Additionally, Shure drew attention to their coined term “HyFlex,” which encapsulates the concept of adaptable higher education classrooms accommodating both in-person and remote learning. This approach empowers students to seamlessly switch between learning modes on the fly. While the concept itself can be implemented with any brand, Shure aims to establish itself as synonymous with HyFlex, much like ClickShare is to BYOM meetings. The overarching message emphasizes comprehensive audio coverage to deliver a consistent experience, regardless of fluctuations in room occupancy. This strategic marketing campaign underscores Shure’s commitment to their full Microflex portfolio, positioning them as leaders in providing versatile audio solutions for modern educational environments.

  1. The Place of AI:

Generative AI took center stage, with panel discussions revolving around ownership over the content AI generates and if AI exhibits bias.

From the event, we left with some insights and a handful of instances showcasing beneficial AI integration:

AI evolves through usage. While specific specifications may remain constant, functionality sees enhancements over time. Thanks to machine learning, future iterations won’t necessitate new SKUs for improved performance, as the engines continuously learn and refine with each interaction. Initially, we presumed AI would replace automated systems, offering better speed or reduced errors. However, the true potential lies in continuous improvement during ownership.

AI, for the most part, won’t emerge as revolutionary new technology. Instead, it gradually supplants conventional methods, achieving similar functionality with nuanced enhancements. Yet, these improvements might not immediately justify increased costs.

SeerVision, presented by Q-SYS (part of VisionSuite), unveiled groundbreaking advancements in presenter tracking tailored for training and collaborative environments, heralding a paradigm shift from conventional programmed automation to the dynamic capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). This AI-driven presenter tracking system transcends the limitations of static programming, as it continuously learns and refines its tracking capabilities based on real-time data feedback. By analyzing various cues such as facial recognition, body language, and vocal cues, SeerVision ensures seamless and precise tracking of presenters, even in dynamic and complex environments.

  1. Collaboration and Convergence

Being habitual ISE goers, and having seen it many times before, we were truly struck by the immense scale and significance of ISE this year. The vast volume of activity and sheer size of the event was even more impressive than past iterations. We also felt that, more than ever, the show served as a hub for collaboration, facilitating connections with worldwide partners and enabling face-to-face interactions. We felt that aspect quite personally as SFM had a rare opportunity to connect in person with nearly 300 members from sister companies under the Midwich umbrella, something that’s not usually possible remotely or as prevalent at smaller events—a testament to the gravitas of ISE for industry professionals!

With its comprehensive focus on systems, AV, and business, ISE provided a centralized platform for networking and knowledge-sharing. Functional group meetings were organized, offering opportunities for focused discussions and see what peers within the industry are doing. Additionally, attendees gained valuable insights into industry trends and innovations by observing the activities and initiatives of fellow industry players.

In Sum

All in all, ISE 2024 reaffirmed the enduring vitality of the tech industry, dispelling any doubts about its longevity. Shure’s groundbreaking releases, including the MXA901 ceiling mic array and the innovative HyFlex concept, showcase their dedication to revolutionizing audio solutions for diverse environments. Moreover, the prominence of generative AI and discussions on content ownership and bias showcased the evolving landscape of AI integration, marking a significant shift towards dynamic and adaptive automation solutions. Most significantly, the event served as a nexus for collaboration and convergence, fostering connections, and facilitating knowledge-sharing among industry peers, thereby propelling the industry towards greater innovation and inclusivity. Integrated Systems Europe remains a cornerstone event, driving the industry forward and setting the stage for transformative advancements in the years to come. Having been to a number of ISE events over the years and based on the relevance and magnitude of this year’s exhibition, we can confidently say that if you’re an AV professional, ISE is one tradeshow you cannot afford to miss.