In the first of two blog posts on this topic, “Are You Ready for AV over IP,” we discussed why the network is possibly the most important infrastructure piece of a modern AV system. Now that you have that background, the next key steps are to define how you’ll use the AV and how that affects important aspects of the systems.
Define Use Cases
Defining the use cases and activities in the room is critical to selecting the AV technology that will help users accomplish their meeting objectives. As we all know, not every meeting type can be easily pre-defined so the space also needs the flexibility to accommodate ad-hoc discussions. The degree to which meetings are in person or hybrid, including remote participants, is also highly variable. The good news is that AV over IP systems are uniquely versatile to allow for significantly more possibilities than traditional endpoint to endpoint based AV systems.
Define Source Inputs and Outputs
An important decision is defining where the audio and video sources in a system are. The use case definitions, mentioned previously, will help with this. AV over IP systems can support users plugging in their laptops in one room and sending their output to multiple other rooms. Another unique capability supported by these systems is that sources don’t have to stay in one location. This is especially useful in multipurpose and reconfigurable rooms. Simply having a selection of network ports throughout the room allows you to design the system so that users can plug into any of these network ports and get their video into the system. Adding this flexibility can be done without a significant increase in costs. Connection cabling is reduced because proprietary AV cables, for every source, don’t need to be installed everywhere in the building. New network cables are designed to be the backbone of AV and IT for years to come.
Define the Displays
AV over IP systems also enable more ubiquitous use of high-resolution displays, including 4k, and even beyond. They can drive tiled displays to build large display walls that are super high resolution, or simply take a single source and blow it up to fill the wall. These systems also support use cases where sources need to be duplicated, without having restrictions that are usually involved in traditional AV systems. This can make rooms that have the following features be a possibility:
- Confidence monitors – a monitor dedicated to a presenter that shows their notes or the current slide that might be on the main screen
- Dual display lecture presentations – to ensure that there are good sightlines to the content on the screen from all participants in the room
- Viewing rooms – separate rooms that only have observers, but can see the same images that are displayed in the main room where people are interacting with the system.
- Overflow rooms – for large town hall style meetings where not everyone will fit in one room, but the audio and video need to also be sent to a secondary room with people in it.
- Control rooms – rooms that might have lots of monitors for viewing and monitoring many subsystems or rooms at once.
- Accessibility enabled rooms – for when there are accessibility related features that the room needs to support, such as high contrast, large format, or audio level enhanced functionality
When AV systems become connected as part of the network architecture, what is mentioned above is just the tip of the iceberg for possibilities in use cases and capabilities. The important thing to keep in mind is that with the network as the backend, and AV over IP layered on top of it, the variety of new and possible functionalities is significantly higher than traditional AV.