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Here Comes the Four-Headed Beast

AV and IT have converged. HD is ubiquitous. So what then is the next big thing in audiovisual technology? Hint: It can fit in a user's pocket. InfoComm educator and PRO AV columnist Pete Putman has seen the future and wonders if AV pros are ready for it.

This four-headed, time-shifted connectivity monster is already running amuck. Analysts are fond of saying that "appointment television" is fast becoming a dinosaur. A report by the Leichtman Research Group in September 2009 stated that 36 percent of all homes in the U.S. now have at least one digital video recorder. While many of those are used to time-shift conventional programming, a growing number of DVRs incorporate Ethernet connections and can keyword-search the Web for video content.

More importantly, Parks Associates estimates that nearly 14 million Ethernet-connected TVs will be in American homes by 2013. And you know by now that the consumer world drives the professional world.

What impact will all of this have on our industry? For starters, you'd better bone up on the latest wireless protocols, and I don't just mean 802.11n. Check out the website for the Wireless Home Digital Interface Consortium (whdi.org) to see where we're headed. The consortium was formed by Amimon, Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and LG Electronics to promote a high-speed wireless delivery system for HD content. It features speeds up to 3 Gigabits per second and operates in the 5-GHz band. There's also the shorter-range WirelessHD (wirelesshd.org), which works around the 60-GHz band. Could either work in one of your next installs?

At InfoComm, we've preached for a decade about AV-IT convergence. Guess what? It's yesterday's news. So are you prepared for the client who walks into a conference room with the latest iPhone, Droid, or BlackBerry and wants to make a presentation simply by pushing the play icon, with no physical connection to the room's AV systems? That's the future of AV.

Are you qualified to set up an AV infrastructure to support multicasts of video-on-demand to and from multiple locations, some of which are miles apart? With more than one language track? With closed captions and ancillary data? That's the future of AV.

Are you versed in the language of digital video-MPEG2, MPEG4, PATs and PMTs, IPTV, modulation error rates, forward error correction, latency, and statistical multiplexing? That's the future of AV. It's the new game-changer, the next big thing.

2008 InfoComm Educator of the Year Pete Putman is a Pro AV contributing editor and president of ROAM Consulting in Doylestown, Pa.



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