Why Gamers Matter to DAC
If you ask the organizers of the Design Automation Conference (DAC) about the future of the show, they’ll point to a strong number of attendees. If you ask the same question of DAC exhibitors, without exception they will all point to the already high and steadily rising costs of show floor space – not to mention union labor and booth support costs.
These two inter-related trends beg certain questions. For example, how will the continued shrinking of the show floor at DAC affect the conference as a whole, in terms of attractiveness to the attendees as well as the their registration costs? The continuing consolidation of the EDA market doesn’t help as the number of potential exhibitors thinning out.
What about start-up companies? First, there is evidence to suggest that the number of EDA start-ups is shrinking due in part to a decrease in venture capital investments. Second, most start-ups simply can not afford to exhibit at DAC.
What about the technical papers and presentations at DAC? More and more companies are spending their show dollars to generate and support these valuable technical sessions. That’s great, but it suggests that DAC may change back into a much smaller IEEE conference. The affect of such a change on exhibitors is obvious – they will be greatly reduced. How such changes would affect the number of attendees is unclear?
How about virtualizing the DAC, i.e., migrating the show into a virtual conference? While this is hardly a new idea, its time may have finally arrived. The benefits are too compelling to ignore – reduced costs for both exhibitors and attendees, while possibly leading to an increase in registration numbers.
Granted, these efforts are already underway, but with mixed results. I have yet to find a conference attendee in any space who prefers virtual conferences to the real thing. This may be a generational issue, but that has yet to be proven. Simply put, most folks find virtual conferences dull and poorly supported by the presenters and exhibitors. This leads to poor attendance. Part of that problem is one of technology, namely, you need a fast machine and specialized equipment to make the virtual attendee experience closer to the real thing.
But the lack of “sensory” experience – called augmented reality in the mainstream – is one of the topics of another show taking place near DAC in LA. The show is called the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3. Yes – it’s a gamer’s show. But it is also the place where Microsoft will be highlighting the new Xbox man-machine interface, available in time for Christmas’10. Dubbed Project Natal, it’s nothing short of an affordable full-body recognition platform. Not surprisingly, hardware heavy-weights Intel and nVidia will be making strategic announcements at the show as well.
This technology will affect the way we experience virtual conferences in the near future. As always, consumer game technologies will open doors that quickly expand into other markets. In this case, gamer technology may breathe new life into highly technical, niche “virtual” conferences like DAC of the future.
Look for my coverage next week from both DAC and E3.