The Revolution in Integrating Office Audiovisual Technology
The modernization of audiovisual technology has changed its presence in the workplace. Phones and intercoms have been joined by data-driven videoconferencing rooms and 4K displays.
Communication can happen faster, more securely and on more reliable networks.
The crux of this office revolution has been a shift in the connections between devices.
From bundles of analog wires and adaptors to fiber optic cables, AV products have become streamlined, more cost-effective and high-performing. Running AV over internet networks represents a new opportunity for growth, not only further consolidating wires, but also opening the door for smarter audiovisual technology that better integrates with office life.
Audiovisual products over the internet is the next frontier in an industry Harman corporate business development manager Jerry Eshleman has seen evolve during his 15 years of experience. Eshleman sells products across Harman’s brand portfolio, with a focus on customers looking for solutions in the corporate vertical market.
As digital devices have replaced analog predecessors, Eshleman’s relationship with clients has become less about selling a specific product than about creating a customized, up-to-date solution that keeps multiple technologies in sync with one another.
“Customers will often have a hodgepodge of different AV products integrated into their workplace environment that often don’t communicate well with one another and ultimately cause user frustration,” Eshleman said. “This is where I step in to propose a new Harman solution or reverse engineer their current AV scenario so we can fit in our products and solutions to get their system operating the way they want it to.”
Samsung’s acquisition of Harman this past March gave the company access to large-format displays, combining its signal distribution technology with the actual output, providing a complete end-to-end solution. It is part of the evolution beyond the digital standards that defined the early movement away from analog technology, pushing products toward 4K displays and more robust audio systems.
Until recently, these innovations were separate from the internet network.
Networked IP video and audio distribution not only merges the technology, but puts it under the jurisdiction of a company’s IT department.
"We have this unique problem where AV products are now requiring access to networks,” Eshleman said.
This has the potential to put strain on IT directors, who now have to accept and facilitate the bandwidth demand for the AV in addition to the normal demand on internet infrastructure.
Harman’s products can facilitate AV over a firm's network infrastructure without compromising bandwidth. Standard network cabling and IP technology distribute the source content, and inputs and outputs can be placed anywhere over the network. The system provides little to no latency and is capable of running 4K at 60 hertz and 4.4.4 chroma (a method of prioritizing brightness over color while compressing digital video to maintain image quality) over a single gigabit connection.
“AV over IP is scalable, flexible, cost-effective, easy to control, can send any number of sources to any destination, any conference room,” Eshleman said. “That change really turned the AV industry upside down.”
Audiovisual data over IP has led to more sophisticated videoconferencing systems. Once connected to the network, smart conferencing rooms can track occupancy data and help companies better understand how office space is being utilized. The system can relay who is using the conference room at what time and who attended.
Eshleman sees the combined power of internet networks and AV as a promising push toward growth in content and a high-quality user experience. “The challenge is to get the equipment to work just as effortlessly as it would on your cellphone, like having an AV system launch a meeting for you by just walking through the door,” he said.
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