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Looking Ahead: Q&A with AV Luminaries

In April 2008, two AV integration giants consummated a pretty significant merger. Audio Visual Innovations and Signal Perfection Ltd. became AVI-SPL. So it was a fitting time to take stock of the AV industry. A virtual roundtable sheds light on a still-growing market.

There will also be disruption at a lower level that changes the transducers we sell, and all components of the industry will need to look for those to succeed. But the company that produces a “direct connect” will be a different story.

GILLENWATER: It's almost become a trite term, but the concept of unified communications. You're actually looking at a total platform, you're looking at how content is delivered, how people communicate within their organization and between organizations. Plus the reality that travel is a pain in the butt … . Where four or five years ago you had a lot of IT people and a lot of C-suite people who did not get it, today they get it.

PRO AV: What are some of the most exciting new AV applications?

GILLENWATER: Of course, [high definition] is a big deal, especially in the United States. People are growing used to watching sports in HD. That's what they want and that technology has gotten a whole lot better.

Systems have become more complex in themselves, but easier to operate by users, which is a big deal. And without talking about content, because that's a huge discussion, all the other interfaces people deal with on a daily basis, have improved. The hardware and software of how people communicate—through a PC, telephone, face-to-face, in a boardroom, in an audioconference, in a videoconference—all done on a real-time basis, with presence, in which everyone knows where everybody is and will be … it's happening today, that technology exists.

GOLDIN: I agree, there are so many new exciting areas in AV, for example new capabilities in video processors, digital audio, videoconferencing over IP, and the increasing use of HD-quality video in all areas. But the most exciting part of this industry is the combination of these new technologies into much more powerful, efficient, and easy-to-use/maintain systems.

WILSON: This may surprise you, but I would say classroom technology in the K-12 education market. I've become really excited about simple things that help students learn in classrooms. It doesn't seem exciting to most, but there is new technology that gives students greater access to information and interactive lessons. Distributing HDTV throughout schools and being able to equip more classrooms with interactive learning tools that use AV technology can really make a difference. What's more important than that?

LEMKE: There are certainly many, but since I come from a distance learning background, I am pretty excited about HD and telepresence conferencing. The first systems I worked with were based on the Intel 386 chip. From there we have traveled miles.

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