• Ernie Beck, CTS-D

Intelligent AV Evolution

Photo Courtesy of Crestron Electronics

The New Conversation

As an audiovisual (AV) and design professional by trade, I was excited to hear the opening keynote of InfoComm 2015 would be on the subject of the Internet of Things delivered by Nick Bilton, Technology Editor at the New York Times. It's promising to see my own industry moving beyond the conversations of AV and IT convergence and looking to the future. It's not that "IT now owns everything", but more that every industry, AV included, is experiencing a seismic shift to an interconnected world riding on a common infrastructure.

That's the real question. How will the AV industry evolve and leverage the Internet of Things, Big Data, and the Cloud to modernize their businesses and workforce's? In the integration world we've seen a steady increase in the commoditization of audiovisual goods and services. Clients are now prosumers. Online retailers have lowered the costs on components to the point where many are accustomed to buying at deep discounts, or in some cases, direct from the retailer. This systemic problem is now just a reality, and the mantra moving forward it “evolve for parish”. This however, is a can of worms for another blog post. Manufacturers are making cloud based apps, enterprise management software, and more intelligent products, but have they become more interoprable? Do they have the training and educational resources setup to help their partners?

Important Trends

More Intelligent Products

Support of open communication standards, universal plug-and-play connectivity, internal sensors, self-learning algorithms are making devices more intelligent. Control Systems with RFID sensors, TV’s with Ethernet for IP control, intelligent lighting fixtures with integrated ambient light sensors. For the IoT to work, the objects need to be smart.

More Intelligent Systems 

More of these products are working as part of an ‘ecosystem’ which I discuss in another post 'Smart Building: Collaborative Market Ownership'. The systems within a building that can interface with AV: room scheduling, lighting, shading, temperature control, are moving to more open architectures. AV is also digital signage. In retail or entertainment, smart sensors, iBeacons, and RFID tags can sense when you’re nearby with a smartphone or room key and cater signage content based on your presence. Meta-data encrypted onto your access control badge will allow pre-programmed sequences to happen based upon your entrance to the building. AV will need to be a part of these building ecosystems to stay relevant.

More Value in Services 

AV companies who are still relying on selling boxes to keep their doors open will fall behind the curve. As a technology partner your clients and partners are going to expect access to cloud services, portals, and web-based tools for access to collaborating and sharing vital information. These services are also much harder to commoditize which keeps them profitable and thus worth improving and developing. 

More Value Delivered Throughout the Life of the System

With your components and systems in an enterprise being more closely monitored for failure or inefficiencies, you naturally extend the life of your system investments. On-going problems are captured in real-time, rather than festering and causing costly downtime and repairs, which ultimately lowers life cycle costs of your system investments.

More Sharing, More Doing

With the trend towards shared co-spaces, shared resources, open office plans, etc., the AV industry will be designing systems that are more collaborative, easier to use, and easier to share. Soon clients will expect their systems will be easily controlled by any employee, and when not in use made readily available for someone in search of a huddle room or piece of technology. The highly complex, proprietary, and double booked conference rooms will start becoming a thing of the past. 

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