Top Trends in AV Technology

Businesses, Schools, and Government “Infrastructure Planners” are researching Audio Visual upgrade projects for the new year. Whether it is building an entirely new building or refreshing technology for conference rooms, classrooms, or meeting spaces- it’s essential to think about this vital phrase-“measure twice, cut once!”   In this episode of Broadcast2Post, we’ll look at the new trends in AV technology, including hybrid meeting spaces, auto-tracking cameras, interactive displays, UC control, LED walls, and voting systems. The panel of Key Code Media experts provides insight into AV products that work and the essential info your team needs to get that next AV design and installation off the ground.  

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The List – Top Trends in AV Technology:

  Here is our 2022 list of top trends in AV Technology.  

1) Hybrid / Hyflex Meeting Space

Barco recently released a survey that found 81% of all meeting spaces will be hybrid in the future. Now that remote and in-office workers collaborate, our meetings look different, and so should our meeting spaces.   Let’s start with distinguishing Hybrid vs. Hyflex terms:
  1. Hybrid Meetings – Hybrid meetings are getting people to communicate, whether in the office or at home on a device. Typically, connecting audio, camera, and shared screens in a way that makes the meeting experience and interactions the same regardless of location.
  2. Hyflex Meeting – Hyflex is providing technology solutions within a meeting space- so -in-person and remote attendees have the same accsessibility to participate. This term is more about removing obstacles for remote attendees, so people watching can access interactions and experiences- including “virtual” whiteboards, huddle spaces, and other elements that might be useful in a meeting space.
  Hybrid spaces allow businesses to collaborate regardless of office location. They also enable schools to offer students new services and experiences.  

2) Auto-Tracking PTZ Cameras

Auto-Tracking cameras eliminate the need for an in-meeting operator to run the camera. Classrooms, conference rooms, and government meetings all face a similar challenge- non-technical people having to operate a meeting experience both in-person and remote.   The most straightforward use case for an auto-tracking camera is a classroom. A well-positioned camera can automatically follow, zoom, and frame an instructor as they walk back and forth, giving a lecture.   There are two methods of “tracking” – some use “audio” while others use “motion” based tracking. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
  1. Motion Tracking PTZ Camera – “Motion” tracking can auto-frame and auto-track an assigned person within the camera’s range. This is great when you have a single presenter at the front of a room. However, if multiple people move in an “area of the image,” the motion sensors can confuse what object to track.
  2. Audio Tracking PTZ Camera – “Audio” tracking is fantastic when you have multiple people the camera must toggle between, like in a conference room. However, today, it requires custom programming products together like Crestron UC Control, Sennheiser ceiling microphone, and a supported PTZ camera.An Audio-tracking programmer will create “preset” sound zone locations within a room. Then, when audio in a specific “zone” starts to go longer than a few seconds, that camera can automatically “zoom in” on the speaker’s location.
  Overall, the Auto-Tracking PTZ camera makes “hybrid” meetings more engaging. It’s a more exciting experience than the boring traditional locked-off static camera.  

3) Interactive Touch Screen Displays

The traditional whiteboard is dead! Interactive displays like Clear Touch have been around for a while, but the technology has seen tremendous improvement. Here are a few things we’ve seen:   The Interactive Display software and app stores have many valuable tools, including integration with Canvas and Zoom. It’s easy for instructors to show software on screen while simultaneously writing over it with digital markers and highlighter. You can also load up documents such as PDFs, PDFs, and Powerpoints!   Interactive Displays also work as a “second monitor on steroids.” You can quickly bring your own Mac or PC, connect it using HDMI or Airplay/Google Cast, and fully control your computer using the giant touch screen display.   Quick side note for IT Teams, there is a free built-in “campus-wide management” feature that allow administrators to control the essential functions of all displays on a network. That includes the ability to push ‘emergency messaging’ to every display on campus.  

4) Video Walls

LED manufacturers are simultaneously reducing prices while also making LED easier to deploy. Business Reception Areas, Outdoor and Hallway Signage, and Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) are all ditching traditional TVs for a brighter, more vibrant image produced by an LED wall.   When it comes to LED walls, you’ll need to make a few decisions- Do you want an LED wall that is permanent or mobile? Indoor or outdoor? Will your current HVAC support the extra heat generated from an LED wall?   Depending on how far away subjects are from the wall, and the intended resolution of the content, you will also need to consider ‘pixel pitch.’  

5) AV-Over-IP

As opposed to traditional AV environments, AV-over-IP refers to using standard network equipment to transmit and switch video and audio, like an ethernet cable!   When your AV equipment is connected to a network- it can often be controlled from anywhere. That means an IT department can remotely turn devices on/off or make modifications without being in the physical space.   AV-over-IP also makes “meeting management” a lot easier. For example, for a City Council meeting, a clerk can pre-upload the agenda, meeting documents, powerpoints, images, and minutes directly to a tablet at each council member’s chair. That same administrator can playout the meeting slides to displays networked throughout the building.   For an important city council meeting, you might not be able to fit everyone in the room. A simple solution is to preconfigure the building’s overflow and conference rooms so more people can attend the meeting. That also includes using microphones and cameras within the overflow room to take comments from attendees that are not physically in the council chambers.   Continuing with the government example, AV-over-IP also allows voting systems to connect with other devices. So, for example, you could have “votes” added directly to the “meeting minutes” or display within the local television broadcast.  

6) Unified Communications

Barco‘s survey shows 57% of employees need help connecting to the display, and only 26% find connecting to cameras and speakers easy. Further complicating the problem, the survey showed that an average employee uses up to six web conferencing systems to communicate with others in any given year.   Unified Communications is not a single product; it connects multiple solutions – voice calls, conference room control, and messaging- to name a few. It’s the brains of your conference room or meeting space. When UC is programmed correctly, it should be completely dummy-proof.   First, UC systems must be compatible with core tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meets. The system needs to be agonistic and ready for anything. That also includes the need for “plug and play” with HDMI, DisplayPort, Airplay, or Google Cast.   All the microphones, cameras, and other input devices need to be neatly configured- which takes time, design, and execution. Quick Plug- Key Code Media is great at this!   A “touchscreen control panel” will often be added to allow people to select the preferred input (ie. HDMI, etc) and configure the settings quickly. The control panel should be programmed to be a simple UI, so people can walk in and promptly start a meeting.   There are also “Touch screen scheduling” devices that are worth considering. This allows staff to see when a space is booked and when it’s available. You can even allow reservation of the space directly from the device.  

Supply Chain Issues – The “Ugly” Trend

Some products are on a 6–8-month backorder. A first, second, or third-choice option might save you a few months. Plan early and be willing to have tough conversations about realistic expectations on the completion timeline.

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