If you’d asked any professional working in the AV sector 18 months ago how they imagined technology trends and digital advancements to develop, I’m sure that many opinions would be the same: an increase in touchless AV solutions; more flexible and powerful audio systems; a greater range of integrated DSP offerings; and the continuing adoption voice lift systems. These trends were already happening before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
The real difference the virus made was the speed in which this new emerging technology was required and the innovation within the AV markets in which they were deployed. Corporates have always been on the cutting-edge, but technology went into hyper-speed in higher education and the government sector as classes and meetings needed to go ahead, despite lockdown. The initial impact was fierce: predictions of a nine per cent drop in the AV market in EMEA through 2020 were realised as projects came to an immediate halt, especially within the live, hospitality and retail verticals.
However, AV soon became part of the solution as the new technology was embraced and deployed to facilitate remote working; which, before the virus, had been limited and now was widely accepted as the new operating model by organisations across the world in order to maintain business continuity. This adoption has opened up a new world of virtual collaboration and unified communications, and continues to drive the demand for powerful and efficient video conferencing systems.
Workspaces, redesigned to fit within new health guidelines, now offer more in terms of flexible collaboration as the previous ‘pack them in’ meeting room format was deemed unacceptable. Bigger meeting rooms with socially distanced participants are now equipped with touchless audio systems and voice lift technology for superior audio coverage, creating a far safer working environment.
Education providers also realised that the technology solutions used within the corporate setting could actually be used to facilitate hybrid learning models, redefining the classroom environment forever, encouraging the BYOD trend and investment in lecture capture, and remote learning systems, and making innovative AV solutions a key feature across the sector.
All eyes in the world were then firmly on governments and democracies to deliver important messages and directives and ensure a smooth transition process through the pandemic. AV systems operated within these settings had to be reviewed, as smarter solutions were required which were intuitive and easy to use for participants attending debates physically and virtually.
Traditionally, the ‘A’ in AV has always played second fiddle to the visual element of an AV system. However, as video conferencing became an even more vital component within our daily lives, demand for higher quality audio has never been more important.
Research has shown that poor audio quality not only creates fatigue, but can also have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the listener, as well as slowing productivity. Business leaders have come to realise and appreciate the need for clarity from their audio solutions, which has been reflected in the investment we are continuing to experience within the AV sector.
As we continue the transition towards the new normal post-crisis, one thing is clear: the AV sector will play a vital role not just in the economic recovery, but also the needs and requirements of society in general. The sector has already witnessed remarkable levels of recovery through 2021, with projects forced on hold through 2019 now being realised, along with further new investment.
While there will still be many challenges ahead, the sector is filled with optimism and long-term confidence, thanks in part to the innovation, talent and sheer determination of the incredible people that work with us within the AV industry.
“Traditionally, the ‘A’ in AV has always played second fiddle to the visual element of an AV system. However, as video conferencing became an even more vital component within our daily lives, demand for higher quality audio has never been more important”.
This article is taken from Installation‘s annual Pro AV Market Outlook report. You can download the full report, with insight exclusive insight from AVIXA, AIMS, PWC UK, Futuresource Consulting, HTNG, Retail Marketing Group, CEDIA, and more by clicking on the main image, or here.