Its all over but the shouting and the IPI has put on an outstanding exhibition. There is no questions that it was big, well attended, and the exhibitors were very happy. Kudos all around.
It was crowded on day one, a tad less so on day two, and as expected, pretty empty on day three. I did my thing and visited most every booth, looking for something to “knock my socks off.” I asked people who I thought would know what they saw that was really new and innovative. Most mentioned this:
No, not the ticket dispenser, but the artwork on it. Its a ‘wrap.” That is a film that is put on the outside of the machine (could be any machine, POF, gate, TD, etc) and it can be printed with any art you like. The innovator? 3M. Seems its the same stuff they put on buses to advertise the latest movie, or the sleaziest lawyer. They told me that it needed a bit of work so it could be easily changed, but think of the advertising opportunities. Or, if as above, you are a university, you could put the upcoming schedule, the menu in the local cafeteria, or the ‘hot’ courses coming in the fall. I liked it.
Amano is coming out with a new line of parking equipment, called “Opus” and it has some snazzy features, — A QR like bar code is printed on the ticket at each step in the transaction. It carries the information about the ticket, validations, and the like.
Here Nancy Evens uses one of the new Opus Pay on Foots. It will be available Q1 2014.
There were a number of companies touting ALPR — and they all said they could get well above 90% valid reads. I guess that’s OK, but if you are using the licenseplate to replace a ticket or entry credential (for a monthly) maybe not so much. Its impressive when TIBA actually prints the license number on the ticket as you enter. But they still have the credential. Its gotta be 100% to work without a ticket or entry code, and I believe the industry will get there. Someday.
There were a number of absolutely new companies present. The one with the biggest booth, but with the least marketing information, was IPParking. They are from Holland, seem to have their roots in WPS, and have equipment that looks like this:
They claim to be the only company in the room that is 100% cloud based, with every transaction being handled by an off site computer. I’m sure a number of companies would argue that point. They have sold no equipment here, but have a couple of hundred systems running in Europe. I can only wish them all the best.
A parking sage and former president of the IPI told me that most of the things he saw were pretty much what he dealt with 20 years ago, just a bit more technologically advanced. Everyone is talking “cloud” but in the end, we are still processing transactions. Pretty much.
It is true that the technology is more reliable today that it was even 10 years ago. The boxes are sexier (one manufacturer told me that “well, we took all our circuit boards and stuff and put them in a neater box, but its pretty much the same.”) The software is more fancy – it seems that manufacturers may be listening to their customers. There are some neat maps that show…well they show… well they… you can find parking spaces and see where your enforcement staff are working.
Mine is better than yours. Ours has a widget theirs don’t have.
ParkMe has the right idea. Now if they would give one of these away with every order, we would have something:
Tony Stark AKA Iron Man drove an Audi R8 like this one in the latest IM flick. I had to stand back to keep my drool from spoiling the wax job. Its one fancy car.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of things on display, and many newcomers were ‘wowed.” Some companies had new deals working but you had to swear you wouldn’t tell anyone, yet. I am also certain that some of the features we saw were attractive to some potential buyers. They fixed problems, added sizzle, and perhaps made the parking experience a tad better. That’s was trade shows are all about.
There were the required parties, usually three or four on the same night. I tried to keep up and one night made it to three, using a boat, taxi, and car. Thanks to all the vendors who spent treasure to provide booze, fun, and food. It was great.
There were seminars and sessions, I understand one was a debate and at another, we were told we were basically out of business. See my comment on that one below.