AV over IP and Other Trends in 2020

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A new year (and a new decade!) is almost here—and that means new pro AV products and trends are on the horizon. With ISE 2020 coming up, a flurry of product announcements and releases will follow. Once we have a sense of what those innovations are, we’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what lies ahead for 2020. In the meantime, we’ve asked pro AV manufacturers and distributors what they think will be trending in the new year. 

These pro AV technologists identified many technologies they expect to increase in significance this year including AV over IP, unified communications systems, gigabit Ethernet networks, and various forms of audio and video collaboration technologies. What do you need to know about AV over IP? How are corporate users streamlining productivity? How important will collaboration rooms be in the coming year? What's the status of the AV over IP transition? Read on for some ideas about what's on the horizon.

Kevin Kelly, President and CEO, Stampede

Kevin Kelly, Stampede

Kevin Kelly

The industry has been talking about AVaaS for years, but now there are companies that can and are actually doing it. AVaaS enables end users to purchase products in an economical way, with an automatic upgrade path in place that will meet their future needs. This is definitely an idea whose time has come and we expect it to become mainstream by the end of 2020.

In addition, autonomous technologies are getting closer to the tipping point. Drones, robots, cars, and STEM/STEAM are red hot topics being discussed throughout the commercial AV industry. The conversation spans from Amazon using robots to pick, pack, and ship packages to unmanned products like drones providing surveillance or assistance on search and recovery operations. These technologies provide a new, safer, and more affordable way to complete tasks that formerly could be accomplished only by people putting themselves at risk.

Ryan Strayer, Senior Director, Distribution Consumer, ViewSonic

Ryan Strayer, ViewSonic

Ryan Strayer

Productivity and unified communications are the keywords for 2020. What ViewSonic is seeing and hearing from our AV collaborators and integrators is that their customers—ranging from schools to businesses—are looking for tools to streamline and increase productivity. They are also looking for tools that enable a unified way of communicating with each other, from everyone in the same building to those in remote locations.

Cory Schaeffer, Director Strategic Industry Relations, QSC

Cory Schaeffer

Cory Schaeffer (Image credit: )

In 2020, we will continue to see an acceleration of software-based AV&C solutions, with new features and functionally being added to existing ecosystems with a simple firmware upgrade. We saw this with software-based Dante for the Q-SYS Ecosystem from QSC, announced in 2019, which will allow integrators to enable Dante audio integration without additional hardware. This trend will continue as end users demand more flexible and scalable systems.

We will also see more cloud-based platforms being introduced. IT system administrators are looking for ways to fully monitor their enterprise infrastructure, and up until now, AV has been an outlier for them. In doing so, they can finally use AV data coming in from these monitoring services to help reduce support costs and increase system uptime, while empowering their internal teams with better, more active information to address looming issues.

Paul Harris, CEO/CTO, Aurora Multimedia

Paul Harris, Aurora

Paul Harris

SDVoE will be the biggest trend in 2020 as its ASIC version of the semiconductor is released. This will mean very low-power and low-cost 10G AVoIP solutions. Combine that with the dropping costs of 10G Ethernet switches and we’ll see very high-quality signal distribution systems with plenty of scalability. The new lower-power IC will allow the technology to be adopted more easily into displays and wall plates—something the high end 1G cannot do as the power consumption and image quality cannot compete.

Marc Lopez, Vice President of Marketing Americas, d&b audiotechnik

Marc Lopez, Vice President of Marketing Americas, d&b audiotechnik

Marc Lopez (Image credit: d&b audiotechnik)

We’ve seen technology trends over the years in the areas of digitalization, connectivity, and user-friendliness. While these trends continue to evolve as part of the norm, aiding workflow and efficiency of the integrator and system operator, we observe a need that brings us full circle to the fundamentals—and that is improving the quality of the experience and engagement for an audience at a venue, facility, or any gathering space.

There are so many distractions brought on by the immediacy of communications and connectivity of personal devices that we are seeing a return of focus to content and production value, which in turn creates demand for high-quality AV solutions to deliver that content and engagement precisely to an audience. A one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to these solutions, so manufacturers will need to focus their efforts on flexible products, along with strong education and applications support for system integrators looking to fulfill the venue requirements.

Brian McClimans, Vice President of Sales, Americas and APAC, Peerless-AV

Brian McClimans, Peerless-AV

Brian McClimans

Collaboration rooms and huddle spaces have been evolving at a rapid pace over the last year. In 2020, I anticipate this to remain a leading area for the pro AV market. We are seeing large advancements in products for this space and a continued need to implement them into corporate environments. I am consistently speaking with customers seeking solutions, like displays, cameras, and equipment for various rooms. At Peerless-AV, we are addressing this growing market by repurposing our video wall mount as a collaboration mounting solution to house the control systems behind displays.

Dennis Holzer, Executive Director, PowerHouse Alliance

Dennis Holzer, PowerHouse Alliance

Dennis Holzer

4K continues to be popular for commercial AV installations; however, 8K and even 10K are making waves in pro AV—specifically for large screen or video wall applications. As organizations continue to invest in new AV systems, we expect demand for higher video resolutions to climb as pricing becomes more competitive.

Mark D’Addio, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, VITEC

Mark D'Addio, VITEC

Mark D'Addio

In the last few years, we’ve seen almost all markets move away from RF toward IP-based video distribution because it’s more affordable and offers a high-quality, ultra-low latency stream. This is now trickling into the collegiate market, increasing opportunities for local integrators who have already built solid technology partnerships with higher education organizations. These customers are eager to learn not only how they can distribute video to screens around their football stadium, but also how they can scale the IPTV solution for their entire athletic department, a basketball or hockey arena, or a practice facility where they want a similar visual experience.

(Read about some other ways campus AV and IT departments are reaping the rewards of IP network convergence.)

Joé Lloyd, Vice President of Global Marketing and Business Development, NanoLumens

Joe' Lloyd, Nanolumens

Joé Lloyd

One of the trends we think will accelerate in the coming year is the introduction of traditionally commercial technologies into in-home environments. This trend has so far manifested itself in a few specific ways, most notably with the increased presence of micro- and mini-LED technologies shown off at trade shows. The smaller pixels in these technologies allow manufacturers to improve resolutions without necessarily increasing display size, but they aren’t quite viable financially for individual consumers yet. There’s a ton of buzz around these products, but for the most part it’s all hat and no cattle. A more realistic example of commercial AV in non-commercial settings has digital artists like Refik Anadol integrating large-format displays into their studios for personal use. I expect others will follow his lead.

Another trend we’ve noticed is an increase in the number of organizations searching for non-traditionality in the sizes, shapes, and locations of the display technology they buy. Just like Anadol eschewed a traditional wall-mounted display by purchasing one on wheels he could roll around his studio, nightclubs, universities, and corporate headquarters are bucking convention and installing weird displays in weird places. New creations come about when people wonder, “Hey, what if we did X?” and it seems this explorative ambition has arrived in the display world.

Matthew Pulsipher, Product Manager, DVIGear

Matthew Pulsipher, DVIGear

Matthew Pulsipher

We see two well-defined trends in the area of signal distribution. First, the proliferation of high-performance IP-based matrix switching solutions, and second, an increase in the use of Active Optical Cables as a replacement for traditional signal extension technologies.

There has been a growing demand from the market for SDVoE AVoIP products in 2019. We expect this trend to continue for the next several years as more customers become aware of the many benefits this platform offers—at price points that are often less than other competitive solutions.

Traditional copper cables have become increasingly inadequate in recent years as a result of the very high data rates associated with new signal formats and resolutions. With this newest round of standards, we are rapidly reaching a point where copper cables cannot deliver the performance required to meet many application requirements. The use of optical cables as a superior solution has been well known for nearly two decades; however, cost has always been a factor in widespread adoption.

Joe Andrulis, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, Biamp

Joe Andrulis, Biamp

Joe Andrulis

In 2020 and beyond, the consumer electronics industry and IT will continue to have greater influence on the pro AV industry. After years of growing reliance on easy-to-use and agile mobile devices, users now expect that same experience from AV. Manufacturers are already responding to that demand with technology that works almost right out of the box, is straightforward to install, and is incredibly simple to operate.

In addition, as AV technology has become an integrated part of sophisticated IT systems, security will become a greater priority. Ultimately the AV industry will share increasing responsibility with IT for safeguarding the network as part of the mission to deliver extraordinary AV experiences.

(Read more about the promise of AV over IP for the pro AV market.)

Chris Merrick, Global Marketing Director, Integrated Systems, Shure

Chris Merrick, Shure

Chris Merrick

Professional AV conferencing in corporate settings will be an ongoing focus and priority for the industry in 2020. Specifically, audio will take center stage. Companies often put resources behind lighting, seating, and displays—but for people on the other end of a video conference, nothing is more important than clear audio. Professionals are looking for natural and easy-to-use audio so they can focus on having productive meetings instead of working to overcome AV inefficiencies.

Lauren Simmen, Director of Marketing, AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection

Lauren Simmen, SurgeX

Lauren Simmen

Conference and collaboration systems are on the rise, as they significantly increase productivity and results, but these systems need to work reliably. They can’t fall victim to downtime from power anomalies, and we’re seeing the growing importance of a power foundation to help integrators keep their installations running at top performance.

Bjorn Krylander, Managing Director, Datapath

Bjorn Krylander, Datapath

Bjorn Krylander

The AV-over-IP revolution in pro AV is well underway—plenty of suppliers offer solutions at both 10Gb and 1Gb. While the attempts to create “standards”—whether by SMPTE or SDVoE—have so far met with limited success, the growth rate will continue to accelerate. AV over IP will soon become the preferred way for new local area high-quality and low-latency installations, where video standards—whether HDMI, DVI, or SDI—have ruled in the past. The “standards” question will likely remain of limited significance as wide area networks will not support the required bandwidth for no-compromise quality AV communication for the foreseeable future.

In addition, we should expect to see increasingly powerful software packages on top of AV over IP video distribution solutions that can manage the connectivity offered, mixing different types of content from remote and local sources, providing the interactivity where required, and blocking it where security requirements demands it.

1Gb vs. 10Gb Ethernet—which is right for your AV network?

Richard Bugg, Digital Products Solutions Architect, Meyer Sound and Avnu Alliance/Milan Workgroup Chair

Richard Bugg, Meyer Sound

Richard Bugg

In 2020, advancements in AV networking will continue to be important for the larger industry. We’re moving to a point where everything will be connected on converged data and media networks. The consumer's expectations for rich live and commercial AV experiences continues to increase. While at the same time, the industry's expectations for audio and video technology continue to grow and evolve, demanding more from media networks—including far more connecting devices. Networking is the enabling technology that allows us to deliver those experiences with an interoperable backbone which supports expectations, with ease. Refining an audio and video networking solution that can scale and evolve to meet future needs is the central goal of what we are doing in the Avnu Alliance Milan workgroup.

Dana Corey, General Manager and Vice President of Sales, Avocor

Dana Corey, Avocor

Dana Corey

Collaboration technology is a fast-growing segment of the pro AV space and we’ll continue to see that growth in 2020 as manufacturers continue to find ways to streamline and simplify both the integrator/IT manager and end user experience. Total solutions that combine UC hardware and software solve the customer’s needs and challenges, largely how to get their teams working together seamlessly regardless of where they are located, lead the growth for this segment. Interactive collaboration displays combined with video conferencing software is another big trend impacting pro AV—video conferencing can make a huge difference in the quality of business communications, so it’s important that collaboration technology continues to be solutions-based and offer end-to-end support for the evolving technology stack that companies are using today.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.