Digital Transformation in the AV Industry: Part 1 – The Path to the Internet of Things

InfoComm IoT

Let’s face it, after last year’s IoT keynote, with all of the discussions that followed, more research was certainly necessary in terms of making the subject more relevant to the commercial side of the industry. In the residential/home automation space there is a solid built approach for things connected, however the IoT approach for the commercial integration market has been mostly lacking except for a few manufacturers’ approaches. I did some lookup myself and found a Wired article from 2014 which seems to mirror a lot of what I’m seeing and hearing today – The Internet of Things Is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes. Right – no kidding.

There has of course been talk since that keynote about the Internet of Things being the next big thing, and I think this article may have hit the nail on the head when stating that it’s not a lack of imagination; but a lack of observation which prevents forward movement.

This year, the industry has taken a larger and more focused approach in putting together an IoT-centric event labeled “IoT Insights” which took place in May, however prior to that an industry whitepaper was published in February Pro AV and the Internet of Things. One statement in the whitepaper:

The capabilities provided by the IoT are essentially limited only by the imagination of those applying them.

I agree, and where the Wired statement points to a lack of observation, I’ll go as far as to say that further observation along with unlimited imagination may just be what’s driving the industry in a much more focused approach to IoT adoption and implementation.

Another passage from the whitepaper:

But in order for AV professionals to take advantage of these capabilities, they must understand several networking and data concepts, including IPv6, wireless networking, Power over Ethernet (PoE) and industry standards for capabilities such as video transport, data compression and connectivity, which are key to the flow of information that fuels the IoT. Mastery of these supporting technologies isn’t essential, but AV pros need a basic knowledge of them.

Of course, as with any other field of technology in the AV industry, AV professionals will need a basic knowledge of these areas as specified above in order to properly leverage the technologies. Of course obtaining advanced knowledge in certain areas would be advantageous determinant upon solutions and intended implementations.

Who are the IoT experts in the industry to bring commercial AV to the next level? InfoComm has created an IoT Advisory Committee comprised of the following industry professionals:

  • Richard Blackwell, Founder & President, Linked2
  • Daniel Jackson, Manager, Research & Development, Crestron
  • Gary Hall, CTS-D, CTS-I, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Defense, Cisco Systems
  • Andrew Milne, CEO, Tidebreak
  • L. William Nattress III, CTS-D, CTS-I, Director of Channel Strategy, Biamp Systems

With the organization of this committee, it appears that the commercial side of the industry is showing a serious commitment to to a direct path for IoT in the enterprise space.

Two questions to ask here:

Will Pro AV soon be ready to bring IoT as a fully built industry focus to enterprise end users? Here are the subjects of Super Tuesday that can hopefully help launch the industry forward in a big way:

  • Digitization and How IoT Changes Everything
  • IoT in the Real World
  • Security
  • Data Analytics
  • System Utilization
  • Novel Interfaces

When you look at the above, the understanding of IoT in the real world as well as data analytics can provide the pieces of the puzzle in terms of overall success, where security in fact does present the largest challenge. As I and many others have stated, you can’t have the IoT discussion without the security discussion as well.

This on security from the InfoComm whitepaper:

Further, attention to security is imperative. As the number of networked devices increases, so do the security threats that AV deployments face. The encryption of all traffic on an AV network is essential, and AV systems also must be capable of authenticating the identity of authorized users. Many experts see security as the biggest impediment to widespread adoption of IoT technologies. For the AV industry, unlocking the value of the IoT depends on mitigating the risks that it presents.

The discussion of devices in the industry is key here, as predictions of mobile devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, and in some cases wearables) further becoming the norm where PC usage continues to go by the wayside draw nearer. With this, the security discussion does remain highly pertinent as well.

This does present the case though for why manufacturers are building in more device implementation with their solutions which will of course be highly evident at the show. With this, the Internet of Things as a front and center platform in the AV industry does make all the more sense now than ever before.

More to come, beginning on Super Tuesday at the show, as well as Wednesday through Friday in the Internet of Things Pavilion.