For years, audio-visual technology was viewed as a distinctive, stand-alone system. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming many industries, including the field of AV technology. Instead of working as an independent system, modern consumers view AV as a component within a larger, more fully integrated communications field.
Pay Attention to Changes Taking Place Today
According to Gartner data from late 2015, the world will use 6.4 billion connected devices or “things” during 2016. By 2020, experts expect that number to rise to 20.8 billion, and the data that is collected could potentially change the way every major industry operates. Some of the most promising IoT-friendly changes taking place in the AV industry today include:
- Cognitive Computing/Big Data. The IBM Watson IoT Platform may hold the answers to questions about how the AV industry can use IoT devices. Watson IoT is a set of technology-based capabilities that transforms IoT data into usable information. IoT data is different from computer driven data sets; despite its complexity, IoT data can fully optimize user experiences with many types of interfaces through sensors, connected devices, voice recordings, and textual interchanges. Technologies that use Watson IoT capabilities can learn without additional programming and engage with the world to help businesses and developers reach their goals. This form of cognitive computing is completely changing how AV professionals manage systems, learn from performance data, and improve user experience.
- Streamlined Hardware. In addition to IoT data transformations, the hardware in the industry is changing. Many consumers today aren’t interested in dated stand-alone systems that require individual programming and support. Instead, they want to control all AV components (and more) from one user-friendly device. To meet this increasing demand, professionals in the industry are turning to AV-as-a-Service models that allow for ongoing support and improvements, which is similar to other service platforms. Although small, the USB Type-C cable is also changing AV hardware setups. The design supports many of the major components of AV systems including HDMI, VGA, and Thunderbolt cables. Where hardware is needed, something as simple as a universal cord has powerful implications for improving connectivity and reducing integration costs. Streamlined hardware and cloud-based AV services facilitate IoT data collection and improve the ability to support a range of connected “things.”
- Expanded AV Environments. Interconnected systems that control light, temperature, AV connections, and personal device notifications are expanding the field of AV into more environments than ever before, including offices, conference spaces, retail spaces, and homes.
Recognize the Slowly Shifting Vision in AV/IT
Publications in the AV industry are buzzing about IoT and the convergence of IT with AV setups. However, in practice, integrators are still ramping up. Changing gears from a product-based sales platform to a managed service provider takes time. Professionals must develop a certain level of comfort with IT networking and AV system interoperability as the technologies converge to gain the most benefits from IoT.
As more devices connect to the internet, AV technology is moving into a more integrated position within the larger communications framework than ever before. The changes represent an opportunity for AV companies to develop solutions that seamlessly connect with the devices people use daily. While the industry is beginning to respond to consumer demand for IoT, lasting AV success will be achieved by those companies willing to dive into the field of IT before IT companies move into the AV space.