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Experts discuss the future of AV

Posted on 7/21/2020 7:00:00 PM by Legrand AV Team

As the world continues to adjust to Covid-19 and enter a new normal, many are leaning on AV solutions to fill in the gaps. Legrand | AV recently asked what the future of AV looks like to three industry professionals: AV Nation Founder Tim Albright, VP of Middle Atlantic Products Timothy Troast, and Director of Product Management for Chief Kathryn Gaskell.

How do you see COVID-19 permanently changing the AV world? What changes do you anticipate for how AV is used in the near future?

Tim Albright: COVID-19 hasn’t changed the AV world, it’s changed how the world uses AV, though. There will be more emphasis on remote as well as in-person experiences. If people are going to gather together, then let’s give them the best experience for taking that risk. If they are not, how do we enhance the experience of a remote viewer? And video calls will not cut it. Visuals, audio, production and interactivity will all drive the next software and hardware solutions from AV.

Timothy Troast: Good AV has always been about the experience and I expect that to continue with a heightened focus on user experience. Quarantine has accelerated the use of video for doing business unlike any event in recent history. While the major collaboration applications are well received and easy to use as an individual participant, it can be trickier when mixing physical and virtual participants. Simplifying this experience will be important to maintaining the trajectory of adoption. Additionally, a shift from wired connections and physical interaction will give way to wireless and voice control. Beyond education and corporate applications, I expect live events to make a rapid comeback. Entertainers have time to be creative and learn more about the technology that exists to bring events to life like we’ve never experienced before.

Kathryn Gaskell: The ability to communicate with others is extremely important. Whether it is to share new policies or let you know your order is ready, the need to do so easily and for many is here. Also needing to connect with others – from your colleagues all over the globe or students and educators – AV allows these interactions to happen and in personable and effective ways.

Which industries are doing well with AV technology right now? Which industries have been harmed by Covid-19 and haven’t been able to take advantage of AV technology?

TA: In the near term the UCC companies are positioned to do rather well. Those that can connect others with a higher quality will rise to the top. Companies that rely on installed systems will hurt for a while, but not forever. Most of the workforce will return and with that, the need for systems in those offices will return as well.

TT: Industries that are doing well with AV technology right now include medical, corporate, education, broadcast, retail, house of worship, hotel, legal services and residential. Those that have been greatly impacted by Covid-19 are theater, cinema, live events, tradeshows, financial and automotive.

KG: I see many industries doing well soon. Grocery, quick service restaurants and services that can manage smaller groups of people will find a way to operate safely and continue to grow. AV will support these in digital signage for traffic flow or promotion or entertainment. Education will also see opportunities to leverage AV technology to collaborate and connect. For many institutions it was a quick implementation earlier this year but as schools start the school year again in the fall, they will have time to reset with lessons recently learned.

Person holding hands up to sun.

How do you see businesses and universities using AV equipment to adjust to the new normal? The pandemic has forced a surge in remote work and distance learning; do you think this will be a lasting change?

TA: What this pandemic has taught us is that a good portion of our jobs can be done remotely. It’s also brought to light who can successfully work from home and who cannot. There are some who are just not disciplined enough, motivated, or lack the resources at home. It is my view that those are in the majority. There will be a small percentage who stay at home and come into the office periodically. This will drive “hoteling” within the office environment. The return of actual offices and higher cubicle walls may happen. The lasting result will not be some mass exodus to work from home. Universities will need to accommodate remote learning but, like offices, they will maintain the in-class learning as the majority.

TT: Yes, I expect this to change the dynamics of a company’s workforce being able to employ talent where it best suits the organization and not just within proximity of a physical location. Similarly, with education, it will enable students to attend schools they might not previously have been able to afford to attend due to room and board.

KG: Some companies will be able to continue to work remotely. Many will implement a hybrid – depending on roles, some will work remotely, some will work in the office and some will do both. All will need us to continue to find great tools to collaborate no matter where the team is physically located. Connection will be key to success and AV technologies allow us to do this well. Some teams need to interact with physical products – to design or build. These teams will find it important to leverage AV technology to manage health protocols – to measure occupancy, temperatures and more.

What emerging AV technology do you think is going to be critical as we adjust to the new normal post COVID-19?

TA: We will need to develop more touchless technology. This can mean an increase in voice control, greater reliance on personal devices, or something new no one has thought of yet.

TT: Virtual reality – VR – will begin to emerge as the new hybrid meeting room.

KG: Technology innovation definitely matters – but simplification is necessary for us. Since we are doing so much: work, school, and home all blend together – we need to ways to use technology easily – simple, fast and straightforward.

Any additional thoughts on the future of AV post Covid-19?

TA: The AV industry was already settling into their role on the IT network. The need to remotely manage systems in the midst of a crisis has been highlighted during this time. The systems will continue to be placed on the network. For a while there will be a push for contactless connections and a reliance on remote and virtual. In the end we will strive for greater experiences when we do venture out.

KG: This has been an extremely challenging time, but the continued need to connect and collaborate will bring AV innovations. These innovations will bring us all back together and better together. Be well.

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