The Digital Revolution of our industry has been upon us for a few decades now. Virtually gone are the days of transporting and processing analog signals as the basis of our integrated audio visual systems. We’ve witnessed along with this paradigm shift to the world of ones and zeros the birth of AV/IT convergence. Nearly every component of our systems now have the ability to be integrated into planned or existing IT infrastructure. This is an exciting time for our industry as almost every quarter we see new and interesting ways manufacturers are utilizing the interconnectedness we now mostly take for granted in modern AV systems.
When we get down past the wires and buttons, beyond the widgets and gizmos that make our systems function, and focus on the reason for integrated AV we no longer see much of a difference between AV and IT. The end result is the same – providing the ability to share information and for the collaboration of ideas.
IT convergence isn’t isolated to our industry; it’s happening in nearly every area of our lives. We have smartphones, tablets, wearable technology that we are finding more uses for every day. Our smart refrigerators tell us when we’re out of milk and we can control our thermostats, security systems and televisions from the tiny computers in our pockets. Technology writers are now calling these trends the ‘Internet of Things’ where nearly everything we can think of is finding a place within the networks that drive our Information Age. So what does all this mean for the future of our industry?
I believe our customers are going to begin expecting this trend to permeate into the systems they use every day to conduct business, and share and present information. All of our industry’s major product manufacturers are now offering products that allow users to take advantage of all this computing power we now have around us and on our persons.
We recently installed a conference room system during one of our California projects that utilizes an Apple iPad as the primary point-of-control for the users of the system in place of a dedicated touch-panel designed and sold for that explicit purpose. Other products are hitting the market allowing users of AV systems to stream audio and video presentations directly from their own device over wireless networks.
One day anyone with the right smartphone or smartwatch app and log-in credentials will be able to control our systems. One day our customers won’t have to tell us their projector lamp is burned out – the Internet of Things will allow thesystem to tell us when something is wrong before the user is even aware, likely in the middle of an important presentation!
One thing is certain – as the Information Age continues to drive innovation in ways previously unimaginable, the AV industry will be no exception!