WHITEPAPER: Pro AV and the Internet of Things


The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most talked-about technologies influencing organizations today. But the pro AV industry has a special relationship with the IoT, dating back decades to when network ports started appearing on AV devices and enabling a new paradigm of management, control and insight. Pro AV and the Internet of Things acknowledges the AV industry’s roots in the evolution of the IoT and offers a primer for AV professionals seeking to capitalize on new IoT opportunities going forward.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become ubiquitous. You hear about it on television commercials, on elevators, in Ted Talks. Industries across the spectrum are taking notice — from retail and manufacturing to IT and education. But the audiovisual industry has a special relationship with the IoT.

For one thing, the technology behind the IoT — a networked connection of sensors and devices that allow for monitoring, control automation and analysis — has been in use by AV professionals for roughly two decades. In that time, each of the various technologies that provide these capabilities has improved immensely. Sensors and processors have gotten smaller, delivering richer services with a minimal footprint.

Networking and communication have become vastly more efficient and powerful, allowing machine-to-machine communication that reduces the need for human involvement in routine operations. And technologies for transmitting, storing and analyzing data have allowed organizations to derive insights from the myriad bits of information flowing around the IoT.

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

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.

With security and the underlying technologies taken care of, AV professionals can begin to find ways to deploy IoT-enabled systems. The monitoring and command-and-control capabilities that the IOT offers make it a good fit for managed AV service providers, who can use them to keep tabs on the state of equipment they provide to clients to maximize the efficiency of their maintenance and support efforts. IoT systems can take advantage of information shared by numerous networked devices, allowing AV to enable the smart scheduling of conference rooms, control equipment within those rooms, and even oversee power, cooling and lighting to create smart buildings. Smart digital signage is another promising IoT offering, and even more advanced capabilities are just over the horizon.

As they look to implement IoT systems, AV pros must take care to address several challenges that face many deployments, such as preserving the privacy of users on networked systems and properly handling all the data that is created and compiled by these systems. AV professionals who overcome these challenges are likely to find that the near-limitless possibilities of the IoT deliver a valuable reward for their efforts.

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