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Sight and sound: make room for the technology boom

WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE OF CONNECTED, SEAMLESS, INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY – by Dominic Bayley

There are a host of exceptional audio-visual (AV) technologies on the market, all designed to enhance interactions with, and connection to, your customers. Here are the incredible possibilities – and a few challenges to overcome as the world enters a new era of connected,
seamless and integrated technology.

Seamless, digital and connected technologies that deliver cutting-edge images and sound are now expected in workplaces right around the world. When successfully adopted and implemented, these technologies not only allow businesses better operability, they also allow them to scale their operations globally while conveniently managing them centrally.

The rise of these technologies, along with advances in bandwidth and internet-protocol (IP) connectivity, have spawned a whole new era of communication, one dominated by end-user expectations.

Internet traffic and bandwidth have increased substantially in the past few years and are expected to increase exponentially in coming years. As a result, business leaders are embracing a new form of communication, one which has already changed the way we work and play.

Technologies such as digital projectors and 4K touch screen displays are no longer considered side technologies that business professionals and educators manipulate when giving presentations: they are an integral part of the infrastructure of workplaces and classrooms.

As such, smart leaders who realise the potential of these technologies can leverage them as powerful business, learning and marketing tools, where staff can more easily showcase and share ideas and data, and seamlessly connect with external contacts wherever in the world they may be. The benefits to business are clear: these tools are helping businesses streamline processes, cut costs and increase productivity. And, ultimately, connect better with their customers.

THE FUTURE IS VISUAL

Advances in computer networking and bandwidth along with high-capacity, low-cost storage have made producing, downloading and sharing video easier than ever. The Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts global IP video traffic will account for 82 per cent of all IP traffic by 2022. Internet video to TV will account for 27 per cent of all fixed consumer Internet traffic, while video on demand (VoD) traffic will be the equivalent of 10billion DVDs worth of content per month.

This data supports the view of market analysts that the future will be visual across different market segments, where video-driven forms of communication such as vlogging will continue to shape trends in products and services and will be essential to business reach worldwide. Statistics from video media platforms indicate a strong global trend of video consumption. For example, around the world people are watching 1 billion hours of YouTube content every day, making YouTube the platform with the highest rate of consumption. YouTube boasts 1.9 billion logged-in users a month, and more than 400 hours of video is uploaded every minute.

Events that are broadcast live are expected to push technologies to their limits in coming years and to increase global IP traffic substantially by 2022.

“Companies wishing to drive their marketing strategies and capture new consumer markets will benefit from a host of new technologies that are making video streaming and live interactive events better than ever before,” says Colin Baldwin, owner of HF Event Services, which has provided audio-visual technologies for large corporate clients such as Spotify, the ABC and the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

“Stand-out technologies driving growth include large-scale projection technologies, pixel mapping, animation, immersive sound and moving lights with powerful LED engines,” Baldwin says.

Live events and large-scale commercial presentations are where these technologies are truly making a difference. Companies now have unrivalled opportunity to bring their brand or company visions to life with perfectly scalable still images or high-definition moving images on large screens. They can immerse customers in sound experiences that captivate attention from every direction and can personalise events with moving lights – creating light shows with a technical wizardry not unlike that of a theatrical performance, but at a fraction of the cost. They’re the ultimate tools to engage your audience, and capture their attention.

AV OVER IP ON THE RISE

Markets such as broadcasting, post-production, corporate, education, medical, security and houses of worship are expected to benefit from the many advantages of new technologies that enable video and sound signals to be sent through standard IT networks. Technology specialists are gradually replacing traditional matrix switches that route multiple audio/video sources with low-cost networked solutions and standard ethernet switches that are highly scalable and require minimal cabling.

Hitting the market now are 8K-ready digital-matrix switchers such as those from Kramer Electronics that will support 8K screen technologies. However, it may be some time before businesses can leverage the full scope of this technology.

Businesses will benefit from systems that can facilitate much larger volumes of video and audio, and faster transfer speeds of multiple types of data with a high degree of quality. Technical issues can also be streamlined since one system can manage devices with fewer points of failure.

Dante, by Sydney-based company Audinate, is a well-known digital media networking solution now supported by many audio  manufacturers. It is a combination of software, hardware and network protocols that enables digital audio distribution via standard ethernet networks at ultra-low latency.

Dante is designed to allow different kinds of data to coexist on the same network and is very useful in commercial applications where a large number of audio channels must be transmitted over relatively long distances or to multiple locations. Small companies previously excluded from using these technologies can now utilise them thanks to increasing bandwidth. They can transfer data seamlessly and have their telephony, video and audio on a single central system.

In the corporate and education markets, products offering networked audio and visual solutions are increasingly satisfying the need for high-quality, superfast video and audio communications, video conferencing, interactive broadcasting and telemedicine in high-definition 4K resolution. New technologies and their associated applications are not only improving user experience but also leading
to better health outcomes for patients. Telemedicine, particularly the surgical and diagnostic aspects, benefits from the clarity and depth provided by 4K resolution technologies.

4K technologies offer a considerable advantage to clinical practice, allowing clinicians to speed up diagnoses, simplify the clinical workflow and better personalise the patient experience.

High-resolution monitors and cameras capable of 4K resolution imagery are gradually being implemented in hospitals throughout Australia. These technologies are especially useful in surgical operating theatres, where medical staff can examine video after operations.

For example, a surgeon using a 4K-capable surgical endoscopy camera can now take live footage of the operation that can be viewed simultaneously by external colleagues on high-resolution 4K monitors.  The procedure can also be recorded for future analysis.

The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital in Queensland was an early adopter of this technology, installing ultra- high-definition 4K imaging equipment in its operating theatres in 2016.

E-SPORTS AND LIVE EVENTS LEVEL UP

The video gaming and e-sports (multiplayer electronic games played competitively for spectators) sector is expected to grow exponentially in coming years. Internet-gaming traffic is forecast to grow globally by 55 per cent annually and account for 4 per cent of global IP traffic by 2022.

According to the PwC Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook 2018-2022, interactive games revenue is expected to reach $AU3.3 billion by 2022. PwC estimates that interactive gaming in Australia will grow annually by 5.1 per cent and account for 11.8 per cent of consumer spending by 2022.

Audio and visual specialists will have the opportunity to pioneer the Australian e-sports industry in coming years as they navigate the technologies and infrastructure required to broadcast live video games to fans in auditoriums and elsewhere.

Events in the Australian calendar, such as the Intel Extreme Masters and the Esports Summit, will require a full spectrum of audio-visual integration, from videowalls to LED cabinets, mounted audio and video systems and wi-fi signal extensions for fans to comment on live games.

Other industries are also taking the plunge into live events to engage consumers. “We’re seeing an upsurge in beauty-industry events where live-to- screen cameras and 3D technology are being used to demonstrate the effectiveness of skincare products,” Baldwin says.

These new commercial events represent a strong opportunity for audio-visual experts with large venue and event space integration experience to leverage their solutions – especially those familiar with live broadcasting of events.

The challenge for business leaders will be to realise what’s technologically possible and what they require to reach their target markets: a standalone live event or a live event broadcast to consumers?

The good news is business leaders are becoming extremely savvy about how new technologies can boost their business. “We’re seeing a lot more corporate clients becoming more aware of new and available technologies that can set them apart from their competitors – and that’s a good thing,” says Baldwin.

From interactive product catalogues to queue management terminals and holographic displays, visual technologies are being used to aid employees as well as drive customer experience.

For example, retailers such as Country Road and Witchery have installed a range of visual solutions by Engagis to better catch the attention of customers and boost sales.

Large matrix screens and digital displays showcase promotions and new styles and can be centrally updated by the companies, allowing them to reduce the time and money required to manually update posters.

These examples illustrate how companies that engage these technologies are likely to have a competitive advantage since they are able to react faster to dynamic market conditions. In the case of the retail market, that means syncing with trends and delivering product information to customers faster and at much less cost than competitors.

You can read the full white paper here.

White paper owned and commissed by Integrate Expo; republished here with permission.

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