[3.5 Minute Read]
Trying to decide on what audio visual technology to use can lead you down a rabbit hole. There’s always a new, best, latest-and-greatest product with extravagant and over-the-top features.
But that product may not be the best solution for you.
There’s no single “best” solution. The right AV solution for you is one that empowers your employees and encourages collaboration, discussion, and innovation.
Over the course of my career, I have designed and overseen hundreds of AV installations. You'd be hard-pressed to find a conference room layout I haven't thought of. The interesting part is the "regression" I've seen in AV technology over the past couple of years. People are dialing the technology back down. They don't want the bells and whistles. They want it to work.
We've all been in the situation where you have a 10:00 video meeting with a client. You walk to your huddle room at 9:55 and try to connect, try again, and again. Eventually, you have to get help from someone in IT so you can finally connect... 10 minutes after the meeting started.
Or even worse, you have to do a presentation. Instead of walking in and getting started, you spend 15 minutes fiddling with wires and buttons trying to pull up your PowerPoint. Why is this so difficult at work when it’s so easy at home? You can FaceTime and screencast with the click of a button, ONE button!
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. It turned 2020 into a year like no other and flipped the AV industry upside-down, right-side-out, and sideways. As people’s lives drastically changed, the industry had to adapt. Most of the changes were already underway, and 2020 threw fuel on the fire.
Above are the trends other AV professionals predict for 2021, according to a study completed by Commercial Integrator.
Below are some of the specific audio visual trends I think you need to look out for in 2021.
Reducing common touchpoints helps to slow the spread of germs. But before COVID-19, many conference rooms had wired and wireless connections, several operating systems, and analog and digital sources. It would take multiple buttons, cords, and steps to get your system up and running. It also presented a lot of potential touchpoints and headaches.
Now, hands-free and touchless tech will increase in popularity. Cordless presenting, contactless microphones, and AV systems controlled from mobile devices will become the norm. This enables a more hygienic approach to previously high-touch areas.
Here are some of the most popular touchless AV tech trends:
- BYOD Wireless Presenting
- Automatic Input switching
- Temperature sensors
- Occupancy sensors
If the office becomes a place centered around collaboration, it needs to be easy to do so. We already saw a significant shift towards this in previous years. Going touchless presents an excellent opportunity to simplify and standardize your systems.
Organizations can give employees and guests one option to connect and operate from, with as few steps – and touchpoints– as possible. Now you won’t need an aerospace degree to pull up your PowerPoint.
Strong, clear communication is essential going forward. Digital signage enables companies to update and broadcast their most important messages quickly.
In an article from AVNetwork, Rich Ventura, VP of B2B at Sony Electronics, said it best “[digital signage displays] provide enhanced imagery and communicate important messages that connect individuals, facilitate engagement, provide immersion, share information, and foster collaboration.”
Additionally, digital signage is becoming part of the security ecosystem. You can control occupancy levels and monitor traffic flow by combining access control, video surveillance, and displays. Integrating these platforms automates the process while providing a positive end-user experience.
A Little Automaton
Control systems are getting easier and less expensive to install. Occupancy sensors can turn on the most popular displays and switches in the room to save time, trouble, and reduce touchpoints. If that’s beyond your budget, a simple “one-touch” or “power on when connected” solution can work well.
A combination of IoT devices and integrations can help improve the new workflow when returning to the office. Automating tasks and processes will reduce your workload and increase efficiency.
Automation can streamline processes like:
- Cleaning Alerts
- Intelligent Disinfection
- Occupancy Management
- Wellness Checks
- Room/Building Controls
If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of adaptability. Once the pandemic set in, people, businesses, and entire industries had to pivot and adjust to the times. Much of that 2020 uncertainty remains. Any future technology investments must adapt to whatever situations we encounter. In AV, this means systems that are easily configured and adapted to a variety of settings.
The latest AV trends are teaching us something that we tend to forget: sometimes less is more. Life is easier if you simplify the systems and let technology work for you. It's a company's responsibility to decide on a solution and standardize the technology. Once they do, they find it's much quicker and easier to connect.
Of course, this leaves a looming question in your mind, how much will it cost? Several crucial factors will influence the cost of your next AV project. Download the Audio Visual Purchasing Guidebook to start building a budget.