The exhibit hall is nearly full for the ION GNSS conference in September, and this year’s crop of new products and technology promises to showcase the very latest and greatest. In recent years some companies may have cooled a bit on exhibiting, but this fall has all the earmarks of a resurgence. As a business development guy, the exhibit hall is where I tend to spend most of my time at ION. I like to catch up with each of the companies I’ve done business with and carefully assess how the competition is heating up between the main rivals. This year I sense a slight increase in the number of European exhibitors, so I’m eager to see how far Galileo/EGNOS/GLONASS enthusiasm has been converted into commercial products and services.
Another year has somehow flown by and we’re already preparing for the coming ION conference that will run September 20-23, and it’s once again in Portland, Oregon. I was just in Portland in June and it’s a wonderful city to explore — never seen so many bridges — with a bustling downtown weekend market, great hikes, and that fantastic surface train/bus/tram transportation network to get around. We dropped in on the weekend market under the Burnside Bridge, bought ice-cream, and walked along the pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of the river. The next day we did the T4 trail hike from the Zoo up to a great view of the city from Council Crest, then after lunch at great little Vietnamese restaurant near the huge OHSU campus, down the hill to the waterfront on the cable car and back to the city on surface tram and MAX light rail. Just a wonderful setting for what promises to be yet another successful ION conference at the Portland Convention Center.
I counted 82 of the 88 booths (as of a June 22 ION web update) in the exhibit hall are already taken, with the well-known larger companies all exhibiting as well as several new names who have not exhibited before. In recent years some companies may have been a little cooler on exhibiting at ION, but this year’s crop of product and technology exhibits promise to once more showcase the very latest and greatest in GNSS.
As a business development guy, the exhibit hall is where I tend to spend most of my time at ION. I like to catch up with each of the companies I’ve done business with and carefully assess how the competition is heating up between the main rivals. This year the impression is that there seems to be a slight increase in the number of European exhibitors, so I’m always interested to see how far Galileo/EGNOS/GLONASS enthusiasm has been converted into commercial products and services. I looked hard, but couldn’t readily find any Asian exhibitors, so we may have to wait a while for Compass or QZSS capability to hit this market forum. Of course some of the major Western GNSS companies are already claiming that their receivers are compatible with these Chinese and Japanese systems.
There does seem to be a slew of good-looking papers, and the whole presentation program appears to have a broad spectrum of interesting topics and the potential for new innovations which people want to talk about. It’s always interesting to see how the main players skate through or around the papers — most now seem to hold back and maintain a firmer proprietary outlook, preferring to protect their ideas and innovations — this is perhaps an indication that our industry is becoming much more mature. In the early years, engineers and researchers from the main players seemed to bubble over publicly with reports of leading innovations. Now the industry leaders prefer to patent first and hold things closer to the chest. Nevertheless, the academics, government, and new start-ups promise to provide an entertaining insight into the active investment in research and development that fortunately still seems to be characteristic of our industry.
As for the papers, if you can’t make it to the Civil GPS Service Interface Committee (CGSIC) meetings on the Monday and Tuesday, there will likely be a condensed re-run of the CGSIC constellation updates at John Betz’ panel, which runs through Wednesday morning. I always find these ‘global’ constellation updates to be very broad and somewhat fuzzy, but they do keep you up to date with the latest complexities of fielding and maintaining the systems we rely on. If you want more specifics, there are concurrent sessions on almost every topic throughout the whole week.
The LIghtSquared controversy continues to swirl, even though almost every user, manufacturer, and government agency has decried the threat to GPS, and Congress has forsworn FCC from funding any further activity. Tom Stansell will guide a panel discussion on the topic on Wednesday afternoon. With these two sessions and the manufacturer’s reception in the evening, my Wednesday will be pretty full.
Thursday, I’ll have to find time to browse the exhibits and catch up more with people, but I would like to hear some of the session in the morning on Global and Regional Satellite System Providers & the United Nations ICG, which seems to promise updates on the WAAS-type systems around the world. On the exhibit floor, Locata is making a return to the public scene and there are promises of an open ICD offering compatible operation with GPS, so that’s a must to catch up with.
Then the Thursday evening social evening still remains unclear, but with NovAtel’s bash apparently absent from this year’s ION, I’m sure there will be other interesting events to fit round Navtech’s anticipated open-mike event.
Yes, another ION with the prospect of re-connecting with a whole bunch of people, a great looking technical agenda, a full slate of manufacturers exhibiting, and Portland to explore once again — a conference not to be missed. I must get my membership renewed and register!
Another must-see show for me includes Intergeo, which runs September 27-29 in Nuremberg — but the overlap with ION is hard for me to overcome. But if you can’t make ION, and you want to visit Germany in the late summer, Intergeo is billed as a conference and trade show for geodesy, geoinformation, and land management, with an emphasis on almost every foreseeable way that GNSS is being used around the world. The show is big, with a huge number of exhibitors, and promises 1,500 participants. A “Navigation Conference — Finding your way in the intelligent world” is slated to run concurrently.
ENC-2011, November 29-December 1, is another interesting place to catch up with how Europe views the current status of satellite and other navigation. However, the scope of this meeting, which has in the past been billed as Europe’s answer to ION, has certainly contracted. This year the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN) is running the conference from the heart of downtown London, and promises 350 delegates, but exhibit space is somewhat limited.