Jan. 17, 2020 - When I founded VuWall 10 years ago, my goal was to develop a single platform that was based on an open architecture that can manage any type of source to any type of display. The idea was to make things simple and easy both for integrators and end users. Back then, our video wall control systems were primarily handling AV sources, managing AV equipment. Over the years, things have changed: the AV and IP convergence began. Our solution, by design, was ready for that transition, but not everyone in the market understands how important it is to support legacy signals alongside new cutting-edge technology while maintaining a high level of interoperability.
I found this article: Signal Management: AV over IP transition published in the AV Technology Europe magazine back in October 2016, where David Davies analyzes the conditions for success in the transition process from AV to IP, and questions "how far along are we really in this hugely significant transition?" and further comments: "while significant progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all customers can feel confident about making the jump".
The adoption rate of IP technology today compared to what it was in October 2016, it is clear that we have come a long way. All the aspects mentioned in David’s article have evolved and indeed allowed the industry to progress towards IP. These include: technological advances, standardization, affordability, technical awareness and competencies both in design and installation, and the adoption rate of end users. But, to paraphrase David, how far are we today in the significant transition of AV toward IP? I think the question is still valid today. Can we say that all customers today feel confident about "making the jump"? Certainly not.
Why jump when you don’t have to?
What I wonder is: do customers have to jump at all? If I need to invest today in an AV installation and I don’t know how long the transition to IP will take, wouldn’t I be looking for a solution that can live in the context of this transition? I would want a solution that embraces my current situation – which is a mix of AV and IP anyway. I would want a solution that allows me to evolve as my usage of mixed AV/IP becomes uniquely IP with time.
The typical lifecycle of an AV installation depends on the application, but it is safe to say that it is in the 5-year range. Will the transition of AV towards IP be complete in 5 years? Maybe, maybe not. A hybrid solution that can support this AV/IP mix allows me to extend my solution lifecycle and increase my ROI.
Hybrid Vehicles vs. Hybrid AV
Let’s make an analogy with the car industry and the adoption rate of electric vehicles:
The cost of an electric vehicle depends a lot on the autonomy range it offers. Today, if you use your car mostly for commuting, you will most probably consider getting an electric car. If you often need to travel more than 500 km (300 miles) in a single stretch, you may consider buying an electric car if you were assured to find a fast charging stations wherever you need one, which is not yet the case in most places of the world. So if you had to chose between electric or gas, you’re likely to stick to the gas engine vehicle until the infrastructure improves.
You can see that the car industry is currently going through a transition period where technology, infrastructure and user acceptance are progressing and there are cases where the use of electric cars makes complete sense and other cases in which this technology is not appropriate. The market is evolving every day, but will we ever reach a point where we can say the transition is complete? Probably not. This is why most manufacturers today are offering hybrid cars.
Coming back to the AV industry, the transition period will probably be shorter than in the car industry and will more certainly be complete someday! As Ian McMurray recently explained in his excellent series of articles in AV Technology Europe, exploring the possible evolution of AV in the next decade "change will be evolutionary, not revolutionary". This statement definitely applies for the transition of AV towards IP!
In the meantime, at VuWall, we fully embrace this transitional period and believe that our customers shouldn’t have to choose between AV and IP. This is why we design hybrid video wall control systems with an upgrade path that will allow them to become fully IP during their lifecycle, at the pace of our customers’ evolution.
PAUL VANDER PLAETSE
Paul, VuWall’s CEO, is a veteran in the Pro AV industry, and couldn’t be prouder of the incredibly talented team he’s built and product that they’ve developed. Paul continues to be involved in every aspect of his company, watching it grow and succeed, the company that he started on his own back in 2009. Outside of his office, Paul enjoys kitesurfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and running with his dogs.