Opinion: the changing nature of AV technology in airports28 July 2017
William Lane of Smart-e looks at how the expanding security and retail provision in airports has created opportunities for the AV industry
In the modern landscape of AV technology, airports are usually seen as providing large-scale jobs, often requiring large numbers of screens and connectors for security, customer service and retail services. However, this was not always the case, and even as recently as five years ago airports were not nearly as important to the AV industry.
Here at Smart-e we have seen a noticeable shift in the last few years, as airports increasingly turn to AV technology to solve new and existing problems. Smart-e equipment has been running for many years in a number of airports, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick, and as such has been at the forefront of supplying their recent push for AV solutions. This means that we are in an advantageous position when it comes to noting why these changes occurred, what these changes exactly are, and how Smart-e has dealt with the challenges set by this newly emergent market.
For a long time, Airports have used AV products to manage departures and arrivals boards, allowing them to update customers in real time with relevant flight time information. The new growth in the airport market has not been driven by this traditional use of AV technology, rather it has been from the airport industries’ expansion of onsite security and retail provisions. As the demand for higher security and more retail outlets within airports has grown, so has the need to support those services with AV products and connectors.
Security concerns within airports have always been high, and there has been a concerted effort to meet those concerns using tight border security and advanced scanners and equipment. Unfortunately for customers, such measures often lead to lengthy queues in the security lines, as the thoroughness of airport security does not lend itself to rushing inspections.
In order to make the process as quick as possible, many airports have begun to install screens above the queuing area to remind their customers of useful security information (the need to remove shoes before the metal detector, lists of allowed/disallowed hand luggage items etc.) in order to give them as much time as possible to comply with security before reaching the desk themselves. This helps to avoid delays at the security barrier itself, ensuring that passengers are able to make their journey as quickly as possible.
The growth of retail opportunities within airports has been another driving force in the expansion of the airport AV market, due to the increased fusion between physical retail space and digital marketing. Many airport outlets now employ digital signage to play live TV, recorded video, messages direct from a PC, and more.
All AV customers in a travel hub such as an airport will be looking for a product that gives the best possible picture detail, while taking the minimum of fuss to install. Smart-e’s particular solutions for these consumer needs include; all our distribution products being 4K compatible with HDCP 2.2, making them ideal for larger displays and providing more detail and a more realistic picture. Additionally, all Smart-e products use the latest HDBaseT technology, meaning they are compatible with a range of displays and projectors for direct connection.
While there are challenges thrown up by the newly expanding airport market, it is also an exciting opportunity for those companies willing to embrace these new markets. With over 25 years’ experience of high definition video transmission of structured cabling, and a long track record providing AV products to customers within airports, Smart-e is proud to be at the vanguard of those companies investing in this developing sector of the AV industry.