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Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Aidan Williams (No.16)

Aidan Williams was ranked at No. 16 in our round up of the most influential figures in the AV and installation industry

Back in June, Installation revealed its first ever Pro AV Power 20 list, rounding up the most inspiring and influential figures from across the AV and installation market. To get to know them a little better, we sat down with each of our Pro AV Power 20 inductees for an in-depth chat. Here, we meet Audinate CEO Aidan Williams…

How did you first get involved in the AV marketplace?
Through my own personal interest in playing and recording music in combination with my background in electrical engineering and computer science. I was constantly connecting my synth to a mixer, to a sound card, MIDI cables, all sorts of different connections. To me, it seemed like a networking problem. Why make all those different connections when you could integrate it into a single network?

Thus, 2003 began years and countless hours of refining what would become Dante: the networking technology that solved the challenges of delivering tightly-synchronised audio with ultra low network latency.

What would you say are the most significant changes/developments to have taken place in the industry during your time?
The use of networks to distribute audio and video signals in real time – indistinguishably from running a point-to-point-cable.

The more general corollary is the increasing use of IT technology (networking, computers and software) to deliver AV systems that have historically been delivered in a hardware form – specialised boxes with lots of specialised audio and video cabling to hook them up.

What professional achievements are you most proud of?
Building up a technology company that employs talented and interesting people around the world. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing co-founders and colleagues from the early days at Audinate still owning shares and participating in the fruit of our labour together.

Prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic, what would you say were the biggest areas of technological or operational challenge for the AV industry?
Dealing with innovation. The industry has some quite conservative elements in it, reusing tried and true designs and the same types of solutions. New technologies are available and require re-skilling and preparedness to change. For Audinate, providing Dante networking to the industry, education and bringing people along with technology change has been and continues to be a challenge.

What impact has the pandemic had on you and your business, and what do you think will be the longer-term impact of this extraordinary period on our sector?
Short term, the biggest impact has been the sudden cessation of work due to government measures responding to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

Longer term, it is hard to say. The high levels of unemployment will likely translate to a longer recession which may be with us for a couple of years. This likely will affect everyone, not just those in the AV industry.

In your opinion, what will be the biggest driver(s) of change for the AV market in the next five years?
The transition from point-to-point audio/video cabling to networked signal distribution enabled by technologies like Dante; and the resulting widespread transformation of the industry through increased use of software based AV systems with cloud management.

Finally, what would be your message to those starting out their careers in the AV community?
If you’re passionate about audio and video, make sure you really understand your audio and video fundamentals – no matter the technology used to deliver AV systems, people who really understand audio and video will always be needed. In the future, AV systems will be built around networking, software and computers – so skilling up on the IT side of things would be wise.

Aidan Williams is co-founder and CEO of Audinate. While at the National ICT Australia (NICTA), he was the driving force behind the Digital Audio Networking project that developed the fundamental audio networking technology behind Dante. Prior to joining NICTA, Aidan was at Motorola Labs in Sydney where he worked on advanced networking technologies including zero-configuration IP networking, IPv6, reliable multicast, mobile ad-hoc networking and residential gateways. He is an inventor on 20 patents related to IP networking. Aidan participates in several standards bodies and industry alliances, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). In the IETF he has authored IETF documents on zero-configuration networking and the interaction between the IETF Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP), time synchronisation and QoS services. Aidan has a BSc in Computer Science, and a BEng (HonsI) in Electrical Engineering, both from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia.