Compared to computers and network technology, many people consider AV to be a consumer market. Maybe it's because TVs, radios, and "HiFi" systems have been in our homes for decades. Innovations like 3D, HD, and multichannel sound tend to create a "wow" factor that's usually associated with entertainment. And, certainly, the size of the market for "consumer"
electronics dwarfs that of the market for commercial applications of AV.
On the other hand, computers and the networks they communicate across seem to belong to a different class of technology. They've not been around quite as long, and have only started to become ubiquitous in the home, but the value of these technologies in business and communications has never been questioned - except, of course, in economic climates such as the present.
The convergence of these two technologies - AV and IT - over the last decade has started to create a synergy that far exceeds the value of either one by itself. I'm constantly awed by the increasing role that the combination of audio, video, and networking technologies plays in advancing science and culture. Examples from just the last few months of email found in my inbox include:
HaiVision telepresence codecs used in a study of robot-assisted telesurgery in French hospital. Network latency is not an option, and HD is a requirement.
JBL loudspeakers and Yamaha mixing consoles used to deliver sound to a live audience estimated at two million people at the 2009 at the United States Presidential Inauguration Ceremony that took place in Washington D.C.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) using Front Porch Digital's SAMMA robots to digitize thousands of hours of videotape records accumulated by the federal government.
At a recent gathering of government video professionals in Washington, D.C., Joint Capability Technology Demonstrations (JCTD) program director Dr. John Wilcox discussed military intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance (ISR) programs that record and store video content that consume "terabytes by the second." Not mentioned but well-known among government AV pros are the applications of high end AV/IT gear in visualization and battlefield simulation systems.
So when we talk about AV, we need to help our colleagues get beyond the image of the overhead projector and the squawk-box loudspeaker. And we certainly don't mean "anti-virus," although those technologies are certainly critical, too. IT systems, likewise, mean so much more that desktop PCs and printers. The combined power of the latestgeneration AV/IT systems may require a new acronym, perhaps one without a segregational "backslash." Just as the departmental boundaries (or silos) between AV and IT are dissolving in many organizations, so should the conceptual boundaries be removed. Only when we see them as a combined technology category will we realize the full potential of the combination.