As 2016 comes to a chilly close and an array of technology continues to be released and discussed, trends from IP video to Thunderbolt 3 are here to stay. Here are my top five business and tech trends sure to continue as the New Year rings in:
1. IP Video and Audio? Absolutely. It is no secret that IP video distribution will continue expanding and eclipsing previous transport methods like HD-BaseT, a consumer electronic and commercial connectivity option to transmit uncompressed HD video, audio, power, home networking, ethernet, and USB. Given current design trends, we will continue to see IP gain a stronger foothold and become commonplace. My team and I see the industry-driven need for more efficient systems that still maintain great flexibility and management as clients realize that IP video distribution methods allow for a reduction of equipment and infrastructure simplification, all while increasing efficiency and user flexibility.
2. USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. If you watched the latest Apple keynote unveil the new MacBook Pro line, you may have scoffed at Apple’s decision to replace all ports with four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports. However, look to the future, and you will see that it was a smart move. USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, often tagged as the USB that does it all, is an incredibly powerful connector and transport method. The capabilities to supply power, control, video, audio, ethernet, and USB while daisy-chaining devices all at super-fast bandwidth speeds, is incredible. You can bet we will see client demand for USB-C and more professional devices utilizing the connector in 2017. From an AV design perspective, it opens many new exciting doors.
3. So long, control panels. The boom of wireless presentation and AV/IP technology opens the door to begin, and continue, designing rooms without a control panel. Utilizing Bluetooth beaconing and other user authentication methods, allows the option to give AV systems intelligence, so users can enter a room, start a meeting, present content, and leave the room without ever having to touch a control panel. While this currently presents itself primarily to smaller rooms, expect to see some advances that will allow larger rooms to benefit in 2017.
4. Virtual and Augmented Reality. If you subscribe to Autodesk’s YouTube page, you probably have a good idea of how important virtual reality and augmented reality is in the design world. The ability to use VR/AR headsets for client virtual walkthroughs of a space is huge. Clients can have trouble deciphering drawings or Revit models because they are not designers, so giving them a virtual environment to look around can allow the design team to gain some valuable input. Shen Milsom & Wilke offers this service, and we have seen valuable and positive feedback along with design process enhancement. In 2017, expect VR/AR demand to increase as clients will ask, and even come to expect, more augmented reality aspects to their projects, especially in museums or customer experience centers.
5. Architecture-driven content and AV coordination. For years, audiovisual has often taken a backseat to the architecture of a space. With the influx of VR, AR, and more intelligent systems, the audiovisual design is now driving more of the architecture. From small conference rooms to large customer experience centers, the importance of AV, and architecture’s adaption to it, is beginning to take hold more than ever. For the New Year, the industry can benefit by focusing on the overall integration aspect of the audiovisual system, and how entire projects are enhanced from AV-driven spaces. The space needs to tell a story, and AV is part of the story. In some rooms, the story hinges on the AV systems, so it’s worth exploring the idea. After all, form follows function.
Jonathan Owens joined Shen Milson & Wilke in 2013 as a multi-disciplinary consultant and brings 8 years of multi-faceted experience audio and audiovisual design, engineering, and acoustics for projects including corporate, commercial, fine arts performance centers, entertainment facilities, higher education, K-12 schools, and worship facilities. He is a professional recording engineer, sound designer, and live sound engineer and brings great thought leadership to audiovisual technology systems design as well as IT infrastructure design, development of CAD-based design drawings and specifications.
Jon is also an instructor at the Illinois Institute of Art, teaching audio production and acoustics.