IBC celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. As the show becomes bigger with each passing decade, what are the main industry trends we can highlight before the RAI opens its doors for business on the 14th of September?
First off, we should point out that this date is not a typo. While the IBC2017 Exhibition is the main focus for many of the show’s 55,000 or so yearly visitors, the Conference opens a day early and is always a great bellwether for understanding what is going on in the industry at large. IBC is, of course, a business and it always wants to attract delegates, so the Conference’s concerns tend to be the industry’s concerns too. Thus this year’s theme of ‘Truth, Trust & Transformation’ speaks of an industry trying to find its way through the maze of new technologies and opportunities that it sees in front of it.
For the attendees on the showfloor, many of the innovations that have been talked about for the past few IBCs are now maturing and mainstream. 4K, HDR, IP production… there is still plenty of work to be done on these, particularly in the field of standards when it comes to IP, but these technologies feel like integral parts of future.
To use the roadmap analogy that the industry likes so much, these are the service stations coming up on the autobahn. They are firm points on the route that we will arrive at some point soon. Dig around in the Conference and look beyond the mainstream, however, and you quickly get the sense that we don’t know necessarily exactly where that autobahn is heading for the next 50 years of IBC’s life.
One of the major potential disruptors at the show this year is VR
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IBC is putting a lot of focus into VR this year. Rikard Steiber, President Viveport and SVP Virtual Reality at HTC Vive, will give a conference keynote presentation looking at the road ahead for VR:
- Panel discussions such as ‘Leaving the Hype Behind: Next Frontier in VR, AR, MR and Other Realities in Between’ are discussing its rollout
- The show’s new Startup Forum will look at the investor perspective
- There are about100 other exhibitors apart from VO showcasing the latest advances throughout the RAI’s halls
- The Future Zone has a wealth of VR and VR-related cutting edge technology, including holographic display for visitors to sink their teeth into
IBC2017, Artificial Intelligence and the Speed of Change
Another field gaining increased attention is Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is almost the classic disruptor, as everyone agrees that it will have an impact but no one can quite discern what shape that will take. Maybe after a day of discussion in the Conference we will all have a better idea Sessions as diverse as ‘Artificial Intelligence - Driving the Next Wave of Innovation’ investigate one strand, while ‘The Future with Robots That Are Like Us’ takes perhaps a more populist approach.
As part of the description of the session that sets out to wrap up all the emerging technologies into an over-arcing view, ‘Inventing the Future - Decoding the Unknown’, its producer states that: “It is predicted that in the next 20 years the technology innovation will accelerate radically and the world will change faster than in the past 300 years.”
In 1717 the inventions that were to establish the seeds of the Industrial Revolution, from the steam engine to the spinning jenny, were still very much in the future, so that is a bold claim. Perhaps more prosaically, 50 years ago when IBC was first held, we were seeing the rollout of the first commercial color television services across Europe. Perhaps in the next decade - or less! — we will see the same degree of progress again.
And if that sounds less dramatic, it’s not. There is another facet of our Autobahn metaphor as well, and that is speed. We may not entirely know where we’re going, but we’re going there ever faster.
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Gerry O’Sullivan, PayTV and Technical Consultant and former CTO of Fox News, summed it up perfectly talking to IBC365.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen an acceleration that is not typical for the broadcast industry. You used to have a three to five year roadmap to react to new technologies. Now, that roadmap has shrunk to 12 months."
He adds: "IP and cloud are requiring broadcasters to jump on to them or be left behind in competitive advantage. That three to five year view is redundant – if you wait that long, the technology you choose will not be fit for purpose.”