Editorial: How Fast Is Pro AV's Carousel of Progress?

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(Image credit: SCN )

At a trade show last year, I was talking with industry veteran John Kaloukian (opens in new tab) at the Panasonic booth when he referenced the company's current unifying workflow. “I thought that was P2,” I deadpanned.

We had a good laugh at that, but the younger PR rep standing next to us didn’t get the joke. “You weren’t in the industry back then,” I said, “but trust me, that was hilarious.”

For those of you who also didn’t get the joke (or just want to make me feel old and/or unfunny), P2 was introduced by Panasonic (opens in new tab) in 2004. While other manufacturers were still promoting tape-based cameras and Sony was touting its XDCAM optical disc solution, Panasonic introduced a proprietary storage format for its camcorders based on something crazy called solid-state memory. Yes, solid-state is ubiquitous these days, but almost 20 years ago, it was a revolutionary concept.

Magic Kingdom Carousel of Progress

Disney’s Carousel of Progress celebrates the technological improvements in the American home during the 20th century. (Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

That’s the thing about technology—it never really stops moving, does it? It reminds me of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. Tucked away in the corner of Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, this 20-minute show lets you visit with an animatronic American family at various times during the 20th century and, in Act 4, the near future.

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Of course, the Carousel of Progress is focused on showcasing improvements in kitchen appliances and other consumer technology, not Pro AV products. Still, the concept can be applied to our industry, too. In 10 years, will we be looking back fondly on the days when we used Zoom (opens in new tab) for videoconferencing? Before you scoff at such an outrageous notion, remember Skype? It was the videoconferencing platform, until it wasn't. And does anyone else have a cache of USB Mini-B or Apple 30-pin cables?

We’re all on a carousel of progress in the Pro AV industry. The WhizBang 1000 becomes the WhizBang 2000, then gets replaced by the Thingamajig Pro, which solves all our problems until the Humdinger Elite XL sets the new standard (and invents a new connectivity port). Unlike Disney’s methodically paced show, however, someone turned up the speed of the Pro AV carousel, so you better hold on tight.

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From displays to AVoIP to audio capture and delivery, we’ve reached the technological pinnacle…or have we? It’s fun to occasionally look back—history really can teach us important lessons—but I’m excited to see what 2023 holds for the Pro AV industry.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book "Working with HDV," and co-edited two editions of "The Guide to Digital Television."