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Aug 18, 2010 11:19 AM, By Cynthia Wisehart

Residential AV helps set the new bar for commercial AV.

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There was a time when the out-of-home AV experience could pretty easily trump what people had in their home systems, if they even had a home system. But now, just as with home-based IT, residential AV and control systems reflect what goes on in work and entertainment spaces and vice versa. Everybody’s an end-user now, even at home.

End-users want networks that talk to each other and networks they can access remotely and control from a web-based or phone-based graphical user interface (GUI). Increasingly, they don’t want borders between AV, HVAC, lighting, IT, the phone, and video chat. At the same time, realistically, we know that the kind of reliability that’s expected from commercial AV environment still demands best-in-class proprietary elements. This is not to say that we wave a magic iPhone and the LAN is king. Far from it, in fact.

But it is not so far away that we can wait to think in new ways. This is a cultural and generational shift as well as a technological one. And as has been proven by digital video and audio production, consumer and commercial do converge—exponentially in fact, aided among other things by Moore’s Law. So while we are truthfully steering today’s customer toward the proven and the bulletproof, we must steer ourselves toward the horizon.

This is necessary as stewards of both our businesses and our customers’ needs, and of our industry. Today’s customer is increasingly influenced by technical systems engineers—whether AV, IT, low-voltage, electrical, automation, or telephony—who have his ear and a case to make.

We are entering a new time in AV when control will truly be the heart of the value proposition—it will drive sales and design. Customers’ expectations will be influenced by their experience and interactions with the many networks and providers in their lives. Our ability to deliver quality aural and visual images will certainly set us apart from all the other kinds of systems engineers who are talking to our customers. Those other engineers don’t know what we know. But will that be enough? Everyone will be speaking the language of centralized control from their own viewpoint and vocabulary. How will the AV industry lead this discussion to the mutual benefit of our customers and our industry?

I checked in with three companies with a certain expertise in controlling AV networks. With their knowledge of both the residential and commercial worlds, I asked them where they think this is all going and how they plan to help us all compete in the new world of integrated systems.

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