pixels             …everywhere.

What I wish the Megapixel Summit was really about

by on Jan.23, 2013, under musings, news

(This post also appeared on The Daily DOOH http://www.dailydooh.com/archives/79153)


When I first heard that there was going to be a Megapixel Summit at #ISE2013, my immediate reaction was “it’s about time!”

I’ve been preaching about ‘pixels everywhere’ for a long time and others have too. Pixels on any surface. Pixels as a new building material. Pixels as a new way to think about lighting. Pixels as the paint for massive digital canvases. Any shape, any size, anywhere (and where pixels are almost ‘free’).

But on reflection, my first reaction was actually wrong. I think the organizers have missed an opportunity. There is no new ground being broken it seems. To be fair, the promotional material is pretty clear on what will be covered so no one is being misled.

It’s just that I had hoped for more and here’s why…

  1. Megapixels really aren’t that many pixels. You have about 2 megapixels on your HDTV. Go to a 4k movie and you’ll see about 8 million pixels. A single square metre of MicroTiles has more than 3 million so I would have to say that “Megapixels are so last year”
  2. The summit topics are about an environment that already exists and has for some time. It’s hard to call that a ‘summit’. Instead, it seems to be mostly about vendors talking about their own stuff.  I’m not naïve (not completely, anyway)– it’s OK for speakers to put in plugs about their employers’ wares; I’ve done that myself. But a ‘summit’ should require the speakers to look beyond that. Otherwise, the audience will just be paying good money to listen to vendor pitches

Don’t get me wrong. I know some of the speakers – George Tsintzouras from my days at Christie where I was CTO before retirement, and Drew Jamison from Scalable for example. They’re very smart people. I know they have their own visions of the future that would be worth listening to.

I would think the same is true for many of the others speakers, too. A rich exchange of ideas – a debate – about the path to a gigapixel future (forget megapixels) would have been interesting and potentially important for our industry. Important for the audience and important for the speakers, too, to help their companies develop their own ideas and visions.

What should something that calls itself a summit really be about? It should be about more than just existing products and solutions. It should be about the future, not the present.  Not a megapixel present, but a gigapixel future. It should be about issues, obstacles, enablers and opportunities. It should look at the bigger implications beyond our industry.  Getting to the megapixel present was easy (admittedly it didn’t seem so not that long ago) compared to what we face going towards the gigapixel future.

Shouldn’t someone be talking about content creation? About how we will need to educate designers to be ready to use (nearly) uncountable pixels in any shape on and on any surface in any orientation? About what tools will be needed? We can pretty much count the number of really capable content creators for massive tiled displays that exist today on the fingers of two hands AND they’re expensive because they’re very, very good. But we are going to need thousands of very competent designers (and affordable ones) in just a few years. Where will they come from?

How about the infrastructure to move that many pixels? How about massive multiperson interactivity?

Shouldn’t there be a discussion -a debate- about the effect on society? About how society could be facing a beautiful pixelized future or a future of pixel pollution?

Is anyone thinking through issues about power consumption for large area, always-on displays?

This is a discussion that goes way beyond the usual suspects within our own industry. It needs to include architects, educators, and public policy makers. It needs to deal with building design, lighting design, privacy, public safety – and those are just a few of the issues.

I hope the Megapixel Summit is a success. I hope the issues I mentioned get talked about. Soon.

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