With 2013 solidly in our rear view, 2014 is presenting some exciting new developments in the world of audio visual integration and technology. Based on what happened in 2013 from a product perspective, as well as new habits of users, we see several key trends emerging this year.
1. Content is King
For many years, AV rooms have focused upon the users participating in the meeting and ensuring that they look and sound as good as possible. Especially in rooms that feature video conferencing, clarity has been a priority. The world is changing quite rapidly and with the maturity of big data, the content of a meeting is becoming just as, if not more important, then the participants.
Meeting participants will want to review items as simple as a spreadsheet or as complicated as a 3D rendering of a new product. Providing the highest fidelity visualization of this data is a trend that many manufacturers have focused on. Solutions from Cyviz, Oblong, and others have brought data front and center through the development of high resolution displays and content centric interfaces. Additionally, the added resolution of 4K displays will only help to enhance the viewing of content that requires the highest fidelity including medical imagery (MRIs, etc).
2. Collaborate Anywhere
The elaborate conference room with the latest in AV technology is certainly not going away but many organizations are looking to expand beyond that. Collaboration rooms, huddle rooms, teaming spaces or whatever you want to call them are emerging as the next phase of AV for many organizations. These implementations are often quite simple; a display with some sort of content sharing device. Furniture is plays an important role in these spaces as well and companies such as Steelcase and Ashton Bentley are focusing on delivering the type of furniture setups that help enhance the collaborative experience.
3. BYOD in the Room
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has come of age and countless organizations are now supporting a myriad of employee owned devices including tablets and smartphones. Users are empowered to connect to their corporate email, load personal and company apps, and interact both inside and outside the company. Solutions continue to come to market that allow individuals to bring their device into an AV integrated room and interact with fellow participants and content. 2014 should see this trend continue. Crestron’s AirMedia allows up to 32 meeting participants to share content simultaneously from iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices. They can also receive content from the room and interact with it.
More affordable 4k displays (displays with resolutions of 4000 pixels) are making their way to the market and have already started to reach high end consumers. 2014 will see 4K integrated into more and more AV rooms. On the consumer side the challenge is the availability of 4k content. This is changing rapidly, though, with several streaming services announcing plans to offer this. Netflix has recently announced that its original series, House of Cards, will be shot and produced in 4k for its second season. This will then enable Netflix to stream it in 4k as well. With consumer adoption coming at a rapid pace, 4k will find its way into a myriad of applications in both the professional and consumer world.
5. Wires are so 2013
2014 will continue the trend of wireless communications protocols taking over in AV integrated rooms. Recently, 1080p streaming has been announced from several manufacturers. In addition, wireless audio continues to improve. Even consumer technologies have added wireless content capabilities, including the AppleTV and Chromcast from Google.
Not only will technology trends influence AV in 2014 but so will users and their habits and preferences. By this time next year we could see incredibly high resolution content as the norm and many of the familiar AV signals (audio, video) moving in a room without wires. It’s an exciting time for the industry and the end user!