A year has passed and Sri Lanka’s biggest ICT exposition is back. For three days straight, you’ll find a massive chunk of Sri Lanka’s ICT industry at BMICH. Everything from Virtual Reality to powerful gaming PC’s to IoT devices to enterprise IT solution is here. This is what Infotel is all about. Organized by FITIS and in its 15th iteration now, Infotel 2016 is a massive three-day exposition that exposes the Sri Lankan ICT industry to the public. Here’s what we found exploring Infotel 2016.
Walking into the main halls
We started by getting our tags from the registration counter and made our way to the main halls. As we walked through the doors, the thing we noticed at first glance was the stall by ATOM. You might remember them from the countless TV’s playing ads across Colombo. They’re here and have a fairly large stall, where you can try out PlayStation VR. Yes, you can play PlayStation games in Virtual Reality here at Infotel 2016.
On the right side, you’ll find an area reserved for ICTA and Sri Lanka CERT. At the Sri Lanka CERT section, you’ll find a few representatives giving a crash course in staying secure on the internet. On ICTA’s side, you’ll find examples of e-government in action and how technology can shape classrooms. After seeing this, you’ll find a stall by HNB on the left.
You’ll also find a small stall by targetonline.lk at the entrance selling laptops and various accessories such as mice and power banks. Ignore the entrances into the main halls and walk straight up towards the middle and you’ll find an entire block reserved for Debug. Here you’ll find a salad of everything Debug has to offer from printers to routers.
The salad that is Hall A
Typically, Hall A is where we see the stalls with technology that’s for everyone. However, this year Hall A is a salad that’s consists of the many different faces of the Sri Lankan tech industry. The moment you walk in, you’ll see a large stall in the middle. This large stall is solely dedicated to everything Orange IT has to offer. You’ll find everything from the either enterprise cloud service to a massage chair.
From here if you choose to explore the right side of the hall, you’ll find the trade stall. Initially, you’ll see things like gaming PC’s, keyboard, computer mice and headsets. Expect few crowds around these stalls as people take pictures of or try out the various gaming PCs.
But if you choose to explore the left side of the hall, you’ll find the stalls belonging to the universities. If you’re looking at pursuing a degree in IT, this is the area to visit. Additionally, on both sides, you’ll also find a small set of stalls selling enterprise IT hardware. This includes everything from simple printers and photocopiers to fully fledged kiosks offering services.
Finally, in the middle of the hall, behind the massive Orange IT stall, you’ll find something else. You’ll see a small stage, a bunch of chairs and a large screen. Behind this area, you’ll find a bunch of tiny stalls. This would be the Infotel 2016 Startup Pavilion. Here you’ll find a bunch of startups and their passionate founders showcasing their offerings. As you walk around Hall A, expect the unexpected. As with previous years, this is where you’ll see the freaky side of Infotel.
The enterprise center inside Hall B
The structure of Hall B this year, is similar to Hall A. Once again, the moment you walk in, you’ll find another large stall belonging to Mobitel. They’ve set up a mini-office here selling their services. However, the crowd seems to be only interested in the one corner where Mobitel had set up a few PlayStation 4’s.
Look to your right and you’ll probably find another small crowd. If so, then you’ve to find the mini gaming tournament hosted by SLT. Rs. 10,000 is up for grabs for the best Counter Strike Go and Minecraft players. Look to the left of the Mobitel stall and you’ll see a stall by Bhasha. But that’s the only company there offering their services to the general public.
The other companies on the surrounding sides of Hall B are offering their services for business. You’ll find a wide range of enterprise IT solutions here from photocopiers to accounting software and hosting services. Additionally, you’ll also find a stall by the TRC and the .LK Domain Registry.
In the middle of Hall B, you’ll find a massive open area stall by ICTA. Here you’ll find a bunch cool new toys you can play with. At this stall, you’ll find games for PlayStation VR, Xbox Kinect and one where you play with your brain. Yes, you read that last one correctly. There’s a game you can play with your brain at Infotel 2016. Additionally, there’s also an augmented reality board, where you can learn about ICTA’s different projects. The goal here by ICTA was to showcase these technologies and introduce them to the public.
Finally, right next to the ICTA’s stall, you’ll find another massive stall by the Export Development Board. This is the Infotel 2016 IoT Pavillon. Here you’ll find another set of startups showcasing their products. The only difference here is that these startups offer IoT solutions. So walk around here and you’ll find cool things like lightbulbs you can turn on and off with your smartphone.
Hall C: The Pettah of Infotel 2016
The moment we walked into Hall C Lahiru, our social media strategist said, “Doesn’t it feel like we walked into Pettah?” It was hard for the rest of us to disagree with Lahiru. At the entrance to Hall C, you’ll find the stalls belonging retailers selling everything from mice and keyboards to CDs and pen drives to data cables and power banks. Navigating around these stalls involved swimming through a sea of people that consisted of curious visitors and bargain hunters.
Eventually, we were able to swim our way out of the Pettah of Infotel 2016 and dig deeper into Hall C. On one side of this hall, you’ll find the usual stalls by the military. As with previous years, we saw the army bring about their popular small arms firing simulator.
You’ll find a bunch of IT projects that our very own Sri Lankan military is working on here. But the one that caught our eye was a flight simulator, which was very popular with the kids. On the other side of the hall, you’ll find the projects from various university students. Alongside these university projects, you’ll also find projects by school students selected as the winners of the Young Computer Scientist competition.
Hall E: The SLT eSports Championship
Organized by SLT in partnership with Redline Gaming & Xiphos Gaming, Hall D is where you’ll find the SLT eSports Championship. The tournament is only one-year-old, but it’s already established itself as one of the biggest events in the e-sports calendar. This year, the organizers are taking things up a notch by increasing the prize pool to a massive Rs. 2 million.
The games featured in this tournament for teams are Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Overwatch. There are also single player titles at the SLT eSports Championship in the likes of FIFA 16, Project Cars, Mortal Kombal XL and Call of Duty Black Ops 3.
Last year, this was the easily the most popular hall at Infotel because this was where we saw the largest crowd. Last year, we had to literally swim through the crowd to get from one end of the hall to the other. When we arrived at Infotel 2016, we saw a massive crowd of eager participants lining up. Thankfully, the organizers had created a better setup this year, which allows everyone to easily navigate across the hall.
At the same time, the organizers have also maintained standards. Just like last year, this year’s SLT eSports Championship features a glamorous stage. A stage that’s similar to those found at international gaming tournaments. This is the stage where many of the team matches will take place.