The AV Designer’s Perspective

Twenty years ago meeting rooms were abundant but bleak - technology in a meeting space used to mean a whiteboard or flip chart, or from time-to-time some sort of AV system that displayed your presentation in a green colour because the VGA cable had been damaged, or a blank screen as the projector remote was missing.

The modern day brings personal technology into our everyday working life. Laptops, iPads, mobile phones, headphones with the plethora of adapters allow employees to work seamlessly together and over the cloud. So clearly a successful modern meeting space must include technology which accepts all up-to-date device connections, AV controls from a single touchscreen button and system that works every time! Simple Right?!

Approaching design and installation

The design of the modern meeting space should not be thought of as…. “It’s a corporate environment, the AV equipment capabilities should be locked down and limited”. The client’s corporate requirements should always be complimented with the practical thoughts of what BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) equipment users plug in, what cloud and web connections are needed and what room automation can be developed.

The recent boom in consumer products and falling costs of large flat screen technology means that visual expectations are set high from domestic experience. From an AV design perspective we must satisfy the idea that bigger is better whilst factoring in brightness and colour ratios so quality is maintained. Alongside this it is then essential to specify clear high definition audio so that systems sound as good as they look.

From an engineering perspective the new system will be expected to work in conjunction with the latest personal technology developments and therefore should be easy to upgrade. I don’t particularly like the term "future-proof" but the system must achieve long lasting performance with due  consideration to the total cost of ownership.  As an example, a laser projector is significantly more expensive to purchase than a lamp projector at the time of purchase.  However, the projected lifespan of a laser projector is 20,000 hours whilst lamp projection can be as low as 2,500 hours.  Therefore if your projector is going to be in use all day every day, a laser project will deliver a lower lifetime cost.

When designing the equipment specification the focus is to define which product and transmission format fits the budget and brief. The designer’s choice is vast, all brands offer leading technology using all media formats so considerations will be made where equipment reliability, capability and cost will benefit the project.  It is the designer's job to navigate the maze of AV technology acronyms and to know that you won’t need SDVoE system for a board room when an HDBT system can deliver the same quality for a half the cost.... We do love our abbreviations!

Most premium equipment is software based at heart so a key factor is finding equipment that all talks together and is easy to control. The use of cloud based apps and touchscreen control systems is the modern standard for AV controls systems. A competent system programmer will need to design the control interface to suit the client’s requirements and theme.

Once the overall AV system design has been specified, costed and signed off the designer will have to give further consideration to onsite installation, compliance testing and training timelines. Efficient planning adds value to the engineering team and client during the installation.

Successful projects will not have the following ‘bone shuddering’ comments…

  • "The screen is just not clear!"
  • "How do you control the room again?"
  • "It’s just stopped working…"

Future of AV, where next?

The AV industry doesn’t stop, with global events like the ISE and Infocomm proving that new equipment is a constant and new standards are pushing forward, killing legacy formats. Can you remember when you last used a VGA connection? Your next laptop probably won’t even have an HDMI connection!

Here at VP AV we pride ourselves on our thought leadership and technical insight, welcoming the opportunity to discuss client requirements and project specifications at the outset for effective project solutions.

Will Habgood

AV Support Manager

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Twenty years ago meeting rooms were abundant but bleak - technology in a meeting space used to