Focus on Technology: AV & IT Convergence

Convergence seizes two different technologies that originated with different purposes, and integrates them to have a common function in a common environment. In the current evolution of the Audiovisual industry, there is a convergence with the Information Technology Industry, so that IT considerations are becoming a major factor in every AV designer’s work and the two industries, once having separate paths, have merged onto the same path, creating if you will a wider roadway with the potential for certain traffic problems.

In practical terms, this means that the design of an AV system, ranging from video conferencing to centralized monitoring, is transformed from a simple engineering diagram into something considerably more intricate, while the system itself is likewise transformed in terms of networking, management and control. Convergence creates an extra degree of complexity, but the emerging benefits are rewarding – very much so for large corporations, although there are traffic issues to anticipate and deal with and quality of service can be a delicate issue.

When a network’s bandwidth is not sufficient to handle a great deal of AV packet traffic, communication can be delayed or entirely dropped. This data loss is known as “latency.” In videoconferencing, dropped packets will result in jitter and unintelligible conversations. There is software that helps minimize packet loss by prioritizing traffic, but software alone cannot resolve this issue. Current audio and video data simply require a large amount of bandwidth. Understanding and providing sufficient bandwidth for the various AV applications is the key.

AV control is another key part of enterprise-wide convergence. Control has little bandwidth requirements; as a result, many IT-centric network applications are becoming powerful tools to manage business assets. Proactive monitoring, reporting, and scheduling can all contribute to an increase in productivity and also support energy efficiency. Control is a simple answer for superior quality of service.

With proper organization, sophisticated systems engineering design can provide companies with efficient, enterprise level convergent solutions.