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The Cloud

Buzzwords seem to have a two-to-three-year cycle in the tech industry. Sadly, the use of “collaboration” is still with us, but something else is dethroning it as of late: “The Cloud.” At first, it may be hard to see how this new tech obsession would apply to AV. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that these darn “clouds” are going to revolutionize our industry.

Cloud computing, in layman’s terms, is the use of servers parked out on the internet (i.e., the cloud) to deliver computing as a service. For example, let us say that you have an internetbased company that runs a website devoted to studying stock trends. Your website application needs intense processing power to run analysis. Previously, you would have to buy 100 servers and park them in your own massive data center. Now, with cloud computing, you can simply lease computing power from someone else, somewhere else.

Given the aforementioned, imagine if you could put off buying that conference bridge and just use the cloud to multiplex your video calls? After all, a bridge is really just a stack of processors jammed into a rack-mounted case. Why buy all those processors? Why buy a $20,000+ videoconference CODEC with all those processors and software when you can pay for it only as you need it?

Soon, cameras will come with network connections. So will microphones. Laptops already have them. Uncompressed HD video complete with HDCP info can be sent via IP with little or no delay. Network switches can easily handle this type of bandwidth nowadays, and they cost much less than a big multiformat HD video matrix.

This phenomenon is going to be a game changer. When you can use a $499 touchscreen tablet that is directly linked to a cloud-based application, the days of $3,000-plus touchpanels are going to be a thing of the past. This cloud-based application can talk to a network switch that handles all of your video routing. This application can also talk to all your displays and tell them what to do. This application can even talk to your audio processors and tell them where and how loud your audio is to be. And oh yeah, it can process it as needed along the way.

At first it looked like the convergence of AV and IT would just be about using network cables to send video and audio. But it’s going to be much, much more than that. It is going to completely assimilate the AV industry in a major way.