Signal management: skills and training12 October 2016
Having previously considered how far along we are in the transition to AV over IP, before revealing the primary applications and future requirements, David Davies concludes by looking at the approaches manufacturers, installers, and end-user companies are taking to training in order to strike a balance between networking and AV skills.
There are questions regarding the level of background knowledge among in-house AV staff, and the extent of readiness among the integrator community to implement and support increasingly complex network designs. In general, the answer appears to be that awareness and understanding are improving all the time – but much remains to be done.
For AptoVision – which offers the BlueRiver NT chipset for incorporation into video over IP systems – Justin Kennington, the company’s strategic and technical marketing director, advises integrators and others to “study up on the fundamentals as well as the cutting edge of network technology. This transition is a huge opportunity for new players, and smaller existing players, to enter the market of AV switching and distribution and displace the current leaders, who are so entrenched in the matrix switch approach that they won’t want to change.”
Adder Technology continues to design and develop IP-based KVM solutions – with its flagship product, the AdderLink Infinity, providing lossless video, high-quality audio and USB extension and switching over a standard IP network – and Jamie Adkin, Adder’s strategic sales manager, suggests that integrators “should invest in network education for their installers and support teams. But they should also ensure that those people are educated by equipment so that they have the specific network knowledge needed to support those products. Overall, for manufacturers, installers and end-user companies, there needs to be a balance of networking and AV skills, because from a support point of view we’re finding that often it is the networking knowledge that is more important than AV skills.”
WyreStorm is among the many manufacturers taking a hands-on approach to training, although easy-configuration solutions can certainly help to minimise the amount of education required. “How much ‘upskilling’ really does depend on the size of the project and the IP solution selected,” says Adrian Ickeringill, EMEA general manager at WyreStorm. “Although NetworkHD was designed to be installed requiring just basic networking knowledge, our training provides a comprehensive overview of the settings required to configure a simple system and scale up to larger applications. With the requirement to enable multicast, IGMP snooping and PoE functionality, NetworkHD can be up and running on a smaller single switch application in very little time. Larger, multi-switch installations take some additional skills in design to ensure the connectivity, PoE and switching capability can support the number of connected devices, but we support design with our distribution partners and their installers, to help with initial systems.”
At this stage, it would be fair to say that the case for networked AV has been well and truly made, with few people, if any, contesting the benefits it brings in terms of adaptability and futureproofing. But as more and more obligations are placed on the network, and the support required to implement and maintain them becomes increasingly sophisticated, the onus will be on manufacturers and integrators to deliver networked solutions that are robust, flexible and – perhaps most crucially – user-friendly.
ZeeVee: “AV over IP as a mass adoption thing? I think we are there already…”
With an emphasis on delivering simplicity and reliability to installers working across a variety of applications, ZeeVee has been among the genuine trailblazers in the networked AV space. Today its offer includes such flagship solutions as ZyPer4K, which is able to use off-the-shelf 10Gb Ethernet switches to send uncompressed HD/UHD, 4K video, audio and control data with zero latency. Thanks to its Management Platform the solution is practically plug and play, with a feature set that includes: the ability to distribute and control thousands of 4K sources and displays across a facility; adding new sources and displays without programming; no input/output restrictions; reduced installation footprint and operating costs; and creating and managing videowalls with up to 25 displays.
Invited to consider how far along we are in terms of AV over IP becoming a mass adoption movement, ZeeVee UK EMEA sales director Robert Muddiman believes that “we are already there. Maybe if you went back two years or so, there was still a nervousness about some aspects of the technology, but I think we are beyond that now.”
The flexibility of IP-based operation and the onset of 4K are among the factors to be driving the change, he suggests. As for applications, “we are getting a lot of enquiries from universities, government projects, corporates and so on – it’s really extensive.”
But to help ensure that the message gets out there, ZeeVee has recently expanded the number and extent of its training and seminar efforts: “It’s really important that we demonstrate the solutions so that integrators, consultants and end-users are able to see how simple, flexible and cost-effective a well-designed AV over IP solution can be.”