Joseph Cornwall, an Audio Visual (AV) expert for Legrand’s C2G product line, discusses how AV still has a part to play in a connected and modern infrastructure, and the emerging technologies that will shape the future of AV.
Technological innovations are a common occurrence in today’s faced-paced world, and businesses must keep up in order to remain competitive. The challenge lies in developing a connected infrastructure today that can support the technologies of tomorrow, without sacrificing speed and data capabilities.
Nowadays, the least we expect of our homes and workplaces is a connected infrastructure in which to use the sophisticated digital devices that have become integral to our daily lives. The last two decades have redefined the audio/visual landscape in particular. Gone are the limits of analogue connectivity, replaced by fibre optics, cloud storage, software-as-a-service and the emerging IoT.
As the capabilities of these technologies increase, so too do our expectations. This presents a challenge to businesses - to remain ahead of the curve without submitting to costly annual building upgrades.
The solution is to design a connected infrastructure that is flexible enough to support older, but viable technologies, while facilitating the integration of new solutions as they emerge. In order to do this, businesses need to be aware of how the AV landscape is changing, and the solutions that are waiting in the wings to cope with these changes.
AV is here to stay
With the arrival of ‘smart buildings’, it’s tempting to dismiss AV as obsolete and regard LAN connections as the main player in modern, connected infrastructure. While LAN does, and will, have a part to play, AV remains a vital part of how we communicate.
The function of your AV system should not be left to chance. There is, unfortunately, no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and the landscape is evolving quickly. A number of solutions are either becoming, or will be, integral, to a fully functioning AV infrastructure.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) connections have become such a key part of our lives that we arguably take them for granted. They are now integrated everywhere, from podiums and workstations to the centre console of a car.
USB Type-C is the next step for USB connectivity. Delivering power of up to 100W, USB Type-C can be used to input high definition video into multiple monitors. It also has the potential to facilitate the upgrade of the screens on our desks to interactive, touch sensitive devices.
While it has yet to be universally adopted, USB Type-C will be a vital tool for any business as interactivity becomes more commonplace. It also comes with adapters to facilitate the interface between existing structured wiring.
High speed HDMI
HDMI is already established as a quality AV connection and is most commonly associated with digital video. Any structured solution must include at least one HDMI port. When installing a port, users must be cognisant of the resolutions they anticipate supporting over the life of the installation, as well as their current resolution requirements. An infrastructure that uses high speed HDMI performance supporting up to UltraHD 4k video resolution will remain viable for many years.
DisplayPort is a digital display interface standard specifically designed for the transfer of digital video, audio and data between a source and a sink. It’s now found on the majority of new convertible laptop, desktop and workstation computers due to its rich feature set and HDMI/HDCP compatibility. DisplayPort replaces VGA connectors and these can be adapted to the new framework. Each structure, therefore, should now feature DisplayPort connectivity as standard.
HDBaseT facilitates the home and commercial distribution of uncompressed, high definition multi-media content. Its cornerstone is 5Play, a feature set that includes uncompressed UltraHD 4k digital video, embedded digital audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, USB2.0 and various control signals through a single category cable. HDBaseT solutions are available in a small box transmitter-receiver or wall-plate form and can be mixed and matched to suit the application. Furthermore, they do not connect to a LAN, which means that using a HDBaseT connection does not affect network security or capacity.
Optical media conversion
This is a good solution for connectivity distances of over 100m. Scalable to work with the maximum levels of AV performance, unified optical solutions are easy to install and can accommodate runs of up to 330m while supporting 32-bit colour space.
Creating value in present and future structures
Now more than ever, the spaces in which we live and work must enhance our technology and add to our productivity if they are to deliver their real value. The need for a scalable, adaptable and high performance structured AV solution in order to achieve this is undeniable. Even in the world of smart buildings and virtual storage, AV is, and will remain, a key player in modern, connected structures.
Late last year, to facilitate greater dialogue between Legrand’s portfolio of connected devices - including AV equipment, door entry systems and lighting controls - and internet enabled devices, the company unveiled its Eliot development programme.
The Eliot programme, which is part of Legrand’s ongoing innovation strategy, combines electricity and the IoT, to deliver solutions that are innovative, connected and most importantly, user focussed.
With the rapid growth of the IoT, Legrand aims to accelerate the development of its connected range with the help of Eliot. The Eliot programme will not only connect existing Legrand smart products, but will help with the further development of new intelligent devices, particularly in the fields of home automation, assisted living, security and lighting control.
Crucially, the aim of the Eliot programme is not just to produce connected devices, but to provide a valuable benefit to the end user, given that connected products are primarily designed to make everyday life easier.
What’s more, with growing interconnectivity, the confidentiality of user data is also a top priority. Legrand ensures data confidentiality with a highly secure cloud-based system alongside complying with local regulations.