“How has the role of IT engineering changed in the past three years of AV Integration?”
The role of IT engineering has expanded significantly over the past three years within AV integration, not only due to AV/IT convergence, but also resulting from the commercialization of IoT devices, retail automation and the rise of dynamic media elements. IPTV, the delivery of video over multicast or unicast on a network infrastructure, perhaps, represents the most notable area of convergence, while A/V architecture has begun to rely on network connectivity more for interoperability and management. But zooming out, we can see another major factor for the need for IT Engineering in AV Integration: the Information Age.
The Internet has created a demand for current information and simultaneously redefined what “current” means. Whereas “current” used to mean weeks, months or even years, the Internet has collapsed that timeframe down to hours, minutes and seconds. Such immediacy has caused companies who want to maintain a competitive edge to react accordingly; with responsive, connected media and content strategies. With that connectivity, along comes Information Technology.
The very need for current content requires that hardware and software are network- or Internet -connected. Take, for instance, the New York City Subway system where riders wait on high traffic station platforms watching electronic signs that convey the times for inbound subway trains. This signage uses a computer program and a video system to determine the exact locations of incoming trains, and based upon a little math, the program turns that data into informative content. And while that media is being displayed using traditional A/V LED technology, the information is being processed and delivered with the help of IT Engineering.
Another example of connected signage is the rise of digital advertising in public spaces. Not only have companies realized that there are opportunities for consumer marketing in public spaces such as bus terminals, malls, billboards and even on top of taxicabs, but businesses have begun to see their bare walls and unused spaces as opportunities for ad-based revenue. The businesses that are able to gather, crunch and provide usable data on the quantity of impressions, viewers and demographics, partner with A/V integrators to implement connected media signage. In order to increase ad sales and efficiency through automation and remote management, these signs are connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi or cellular networks and typically driven by industrial PCs running Windows OS, Linux or even Android.
Most importantly, in many ways, we are still in the infancy of this advancement. As hardware and software providers continue to react to the trend of IoT devices, and connectivity becomes cheaper and more readily available, innovation and low cost will continue to facilitate and grow this trend of connected signage. Big data has empowered companies with proof that advertising drives profit and that targeted advertising can be even more successful. As consumers become more connected through social media profiles, likely, we are not far from the physical landscapes that we live in and interact with, beginning to look and operate like our curated media feeds. And it all requires IT Engineering to build.