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The Top 10 AV Trends to Watch in 2016

This is a popular time of year for the technology industry to try our hand at predicting the future. 2016 will be a year of big changes within the AV world, many of which already happening. The AV market is a vast world — video and sound, hardware and software and of course it’s equally important to think about strategies to improve performance and deployment of systems. It’s a field that’s fun one to make predictions about.

10: Video over IP: With the realization that great compression has no visible impact, and running specialized fixed-length cables that change every few years no longer makes sense, many new video over IP products will be coming to market and AV companies without video-over-IP offerings and strategies will see their customers migrate elsewhere.

9: IT and AV worlds will converge: AV will become more IT centric. Expect to see a lot of the best practices and decision making process from the IT world. Expect to see terms like TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), middleware, failover, and appliances being added to the AV lexicon.

8: Video walls: It is already the fastest growing sub-segment of AV, new solutions are coming on the market that dramatically lower the costs so expect this trend to continue in 2016 as more and more new uses and applications are found for video walls.

7: Rise of the converged computer-driven appliance: PC-driven devices will bundle AV complexity into a multi-functional all in one appliance capable of self-updating over the network. For example, Userful, the company I work for builds a software appliance for video walls--a single PC able to deliver 6k and larger content over the network in real time to video walls of up to 60 screens, but that same single PC can also support other digital signage displays, touch screens, and desktops. Many functions converge in one appliance.

6: Modular and Multifunctional: In the new computerized AV world, like the world of IT, a generic processor will perform AV tasks and transformations in software. Solutions will be built using interchangeable components that talk to each increasingly using open standards rather than proprietary connections.

5: Middleware: Software that exists primarily to glue things together, and create simple, powerful, and stable cost-saving solutions. The world of AV is now starting to mirror the rapid pace of IT, and middleware is becoming increasingly necessary. In 2016, expect to see solutions that sit between, for example, your content sources and your displays facilitating integration and management of the solution.

4: Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE): Expect PoE switches to continue rapidly dropping in cost and become an option for virtually all network connected AV devices. Cost savings of PoE are relevant for cameras, wireless access points, or a kiosks that need to be in very specific locations and more often than not would a new power outlet costing hundreds of dollars. In 2016, PoE touch screens and other displays are emerging in the market as alternatives to traditionally powered devices.

3: Interactive Screens: People’s first instinct when they see a digital screen is to interact with it. With PoE touch screens, some of the obstacles to deploying screens everywhere have now been removed. Rising minimum wage means automation is both needed and affordable. While digital signage you can’t interact with still will always have its place, interactive touch screens are on the rise.

2: Browser management: A browser interface with responsive design gives consistency across all platforms and access from any device without the security and distribution headaches of an app. While apps may still have a place in home use of AV, in the corporate environment expect to solutions opting instead to deliver their control interfaces via a standard browser. Userful has long been an advocate of empowering customers with browser management. It’s simple and ubiquitous.

1: Some things we’ll likely be saying our goodbye to in 2016:

End of Unscalable black boxes (We’ve all seen this, the 4-port box you need to throw out if you want to grow to 5. Scalability and flexibility will be requirement to get into an AV integrators toolbox)

End of Forward Projection: This is now on their final lap around the block, outpaced in almost every regard by low-cost large format displays and video walls.

AV entrepreneur and analyst Time Griffin is the founder and CTO of Userful Corporation, the company behind Userful Network Video Wall, an appliance that delivers up to 6k content on up to 60 screens from a single PC.