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The Next Frontier

- more than 150 years ago.

You know how the media distorts things. One of my favorite misquotes is attributed to Henry Ellsworth, Commissioner of Patents, who was rumored to have said that “everything which can be invented has already been patented” — more than 150 years ago. In fact, what he really said in 1843 was, “The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.” My interpretation of his actual quote is that with each new invention or advancement, we find it hard to believe that it could get any better than this.

Are we nearing that point in audio and video technology? In recent years, I have heard and seen nearly “lifelike” sound and images, albeit in controlled demos where the links were short. The point is, there is endpoint technology that seems to be approaching “as good as it gets.” What's left?

What remains seems to be the actual means of delivering the ultimate AV signal over the Internet. It seems clear that a truly lifelike perceptual experience requires what Tom Holman, president of TMH Corp. and developer of the THX Sound System, calls “the bitrate of reality.” I think we can assume that this bitrate would be astronomically large —so large, that few endpoints in the world (outside of certain top-secret government facilities) would have to bandwidth capacity to bring it in. Internet2, with its expected bitrate of 10 Gbps over optical pathways, will help, but can it deliver reality?

While all this may seem far removed from present day concerns of AV pros, it isn't. For example, true telepresence and the HD experience requires bandwidth capacity that most endpoints don't yet have. While we may be sold on the promise, its delivery is still in question — and that's why it's the next frontier of pro AV.

Speaking of new frontiers in pro AV, I am standing at the edge of one myself. This will be my final issue as editor of PRO AV. I thank you for your support over the past few years as we reinvented the PRO AV media brand into what I believe is the industry-leading AV resource.

Mark Mayfield, Editor



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