Convergence Is A Two-Way Street

Convergence Is A Two-Way Street

How many of you attended Interop Las Vegas at the end of April? I must admit, I was not able to attend this year, but I'm sure it was jam-packed with great new product introductions and educational opportunities. One topic you probably didn't learn much about was the relationship between networks and the audiovisual/communications technologies that are becoming increasingly reliant upon them.

That's because only one of the 250-plus sessions even remotely dealt with this particular convergence. The session was titled, "What You Need to Know about Telepresence and High Definition Video," yet none of its presenters were technical experts on video technologies or even providers of telepresence or videoconferencing systems.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. While IT and networking issues have dramatically imposed themselves on AV applications, the converse is not true. It may be my pro audio/AV bias talking, but this one-way street paradigm still strikes me as ironic, since most end-users' experience with IT ultimately happens through one or more AV interfaces. To the consumer of IT or AV, it's all one integrated experience. As I type this on a computer, I am looking at an LCD display. When I receive an email, I hear a chime through my loudspeaker system. Until data ports appear on the human skull, any type of communication you can of think depends on some sort of audio or visual technology for its message delivery.

The quality of data transfer - whether it's numbers, audio, or visual content - has three equally important parts. First, content must be digitized and, in some cases, stored for later delivery. Then the digitized data is transmitted, and must arrive intact and, often, in a "timely" manner. For some IT pros, that where the job ends, but even if this second step is accomplished with appropriate QoS, there's the vexing matter of the final step - how it's delivered for "ingestion" by the human perceptual system.

I'm not saying that IT and network managers don't care about the quality of AV delivery. I'm saying it's given very little thought. There is a "blind spot" when it comes to AV. Why should IT care about AV? Because it's part of the overall quality of the experience, or service, that the IT professional is being paid to provide. It's the corollary of GIGO (garbage in/garbage out) - the best quality champagne drank from a paper cup doesn't taste as good. A digital compact disc played through a clock radio doesn't sound as good. Digital content viewed and heard on an inadequate AV system fails to deliver that content the way it was intended. Communication is degraded, and the message is distorted.

And that's a collision on this two-way street of convergence.