Tag Archives: AV

AV in U.S. courtrooms

How AV is Transforming U.S. Courtrooms

The days of old-fashioned, closed off courtrooms are over. While many perceive the legal industry to be lagging behind in technology adoption, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Integrated AV technology, used widely in courtrooms and law firms across the U.S., not only improves transparency in the judicial system, it improves courtroom efficiency, lowers overhead costs, and increases security.

Understanding the Role of AV in Court Proceedings

Historically, court proceedings required everyone involved to be present in the courtroom. Before, during, and after a trial, communication plays a huge role in the legal system. In addition to courtroom activities, depositions, training programs, and many client communications required in-person meetings. Even as some communications shifted to email interactions or phone conferences in recent years, AV technology has the potential to take communications to the next level.

AV technology meets the demand for broadcast trials as well as those behind-the-scenes interactions that take place in the legal field on a daily basis. Video conferencing and telepresence systems make it possible to accomplish many pre-trial tasks remotely, and even to call in witnesses who cannot be physically present in the courtroom.

Meanwhile, broadcast technology can bring trials to a broad television or internet audience. Interactive video monitors, microphones, speakers, touchscreen control systems, and internet-connected devices and networking all play a role in the modern, technology-driven courtroom.

AV setups in the courtroom often feature:

  • Videoconferencing equipment. Video conferencing and telepresence equipment enables courts to engage in remote arraignments and interact with witnesses or court officers who could not travel to provide testimony. Video conferencing technology also supports out-of-the-courtroom interactions such as depositions and client meetings. Remote interactions with defendants, legal counsel, and witnesses reduce overhead travel costs for individuals, government, and law firms.
  • Broadcasting equipment. To improve judicial transparency, many courts are broadcasting trials on local television or via other mediums. Instead of adapting to camera crews who need to set up equipment before each trial, some court systems are investing in their own broadcast equipment. Even if the trial isn’t immediately broadcast, the video serves as an important record of the events that took place and provides more in-depth data than a court reporter’s documentation.
  • Interactive display panels. Large screens placed in strategic locations throughout the courtroom often serve dual purposes as video conferencing screens and interactive whiteboards on which attorneys can display key pieces of evidence and use electronic pens to illustrate a point. Additionally, every important person in the courtroom can be provided with a display to ensure maximum visual intelligibility including the judge, clerk, attorneys, witnesses and jurors.
  • Audio integration. Microphones, digital signal processors and audio distribution such as speaker systems play a crucial role in the courtroom setting. Many courtrooms invest in audio technology before transitioning to video components. Microphones capture the information being shared to support court records, while connected speakers amplify communications and auditory evidence. Intelligible audio is critical for all participants to understand what is being said or presented.
  • Control and connectivity. In addition to these primary AV components, many AV companies are outfitting courtrooms with multi-functional access panels that may include laptop connections, document cameras, and other integration-friendly equipment. Judges, for example, often have access to control panels with intuitive functionality to manage the proceedings from the bench. The judge and/or lawyers may have the capability to turn on specific courtroom cameras, video sources, or displays, mute or activate microphones, and operate the video conferencing system from a touchscreen control panel or even a mobile device, such as an iPad, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Managed services. As AV technology and IT services intersect, many AV providers have started to offer managed AV services. Instead of installing the equipment and relying on the users to manage it, AV companies are remotely managing every component for reduced downtime and improved security, which is a crucial consideration in courtrooms.

AV technology clearly plays an important role in the legal setting, and government entities willing to adopt new technologies have a great opportunity for long-term positive impacts in their courtrooms.

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IT/AV Convergence

Converging AV and IT: Is a Change Finally Happening

The convergence of AV and IT has been a hot topic lately, but it seems many questions have been left unanswered. Talk is cheap, after all—is this convergence actually happening? If so, is it happening in some industries more than others? Will there ever be complete convergence? How do we leverage the technologies together? It’s time to eliminate the confusion and get answers.

So Many Questions, So Little Time

If you ask three different professionals whether AV and IT are converging, odds are you’ll get three different answers. That’s because, while there are or course similarities, each industry approaches AV integrations differently. Jeff Loether recently discussed the convergence of AV and IT in the hospitality field, for example, and predicted a 20 percent convergence—not for now, but forever. Why? Large-scale AV systems like those found in hotel conference rooms or ballrooms do not use off-the-shelf equipment or simply plug into the wall. Rather, the components require substantial engineering and knowledge of component integration capabilities to function on all cylinders. While there are software and other IT considerations, Loether doesn’t predict they’ll ever carry completely equal weight in part due to the fundamental difference between analog (AV) and digital (IT) technologies.

But that’s just one opinion.

If you ask Jesse Anderson, who recently discussed AV and IT with the e-zine AV Network, he’d tell you things aren’t only looking up for a total convergence—he believes that convergence is already here. Hailing from the academic space, Anderson is also the Erstwhile Chair for InfoComm Technology Managers Council and regularly visits InfoComm shows to check out the latest in educational AV offerings, so he’s up to speed on the latest trends. He reported that he’s been working with networked control and audio for some time and feels as though the industry needs to start leveraging IT standards via routes like modifying Service Level Agreements (SLAs). 

Collaboration: The New Normal

Regardless of what camp you hail from when it comes to your view on AV/IT convergence, it’s difficult to argue that both are increasingly relevant to how we live, work, and learn. Today’s AV solutions go far beyond simple video conferencing, and today’s IT capabilities are widespread enough to leave fingerprints on every aspect of an organization. It seems, then, that collaboration—not strictly convergence—might just be the new normal.

Many video systems today, for example, are already being integrated into Unified Communications (UC) platforms that exist on IT networks. Conversely, those IT networks hold AV technologies like large-scale digital signage. Recent acquisitions by major vendors like Microsoft and Cisco further point to an AV-inclusive—not an AV-exclusive—future for IT.

What’s Next?

However the AV and IT industries intermingle in the future, the success of that partnership will rely on the development of scalable, standardized models that satisfy the needs of clients from a variety of industries. After all, at the core of both AV and IT are the simple goals of streamlining processes and improving communication for all businesses, from the enterprise to SMBs. Together, it is possible.

av technology healthcare

Healthcare Industry Discovering Multiple Benefits of AV Technology

AV technology has revolutionized how many organizations approach communication, collaboration, and ‘business as usual.’ These benefits are not specific to any certain market, as many applications for AV exist in classrooms, boardrooms, and—increasingly—even operating rooms. In fact, healthcare AV is a growing market that is changing the way providers approach patient care. Let’s take a closer look at how AV is changing the healthcare industry (and why it’s working).

AV Technologies Yield New Approaches to Patient Care

The e-zine AV Network recently reported that funding for the health IT/digital health sector reached $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2015, a 53 percent increase from the preceding quarter. This growth—undoubtedly spurred by interest in the potential for telehealth (discussed in-depth below)—is proof that AV is impacting the healthcare industry in ways that can ultimately boost patient care.

Viewed from a wide lens, AV is impacting the healthcare industry by doing the following:

  • Enabling collaboration between doctors. Besides standard videoconferencing capabilities, many AV systems today come with digital video capturing and streaming features. This allows physicians or emergency medical personnel to collaborate more effectively—even in real time or in the operating room, a big plus in a field where seconds matter.
  • Increasing the speed in information dissemination via digital signage. AV-enabled digital signage serves a number of purposes in hospital environments. Besides offering directions to help visitors with navigation, these tools can feature touch-screen interactivity and even facilitate two-way video collaboration in the case of emergencies.
  • Allowing hospitals (and staff) to collaborate and organize electronic medical records (EMRs). Using AV technology, hospital staff can better secure, organize and even share important treatment information such as EMRs, videos of surgical procedures, x-rays and more.
  • Advancing knowledge and understanding of medical procedures through increased visual capabilities, thereby increasing the efficacy of training for physicians. Surgical environments today are endeavoring to become more “future-proof,” and many are phasing in advancements like miniature scopes. AV is also finding its place in operating rooms, and the output is helping train the future generation of healthcare providers. (Note that for these operating room systems to function properly, the AV components, data network and operating room equipment should work with each other—or, at the very least, not cause compatibility issues.)
  • Adding telemedicine capabilities to improve access to convenient doctor-patient communication. At InfoComm’s first healthcare conference, telehealth was named as a top trend due to the aging of the baby boomer generation and their collective increased demand for healthcare services. Using telehealth technology, patients can have a video ‘office visit’ with their physicians—without, of course, physically traveling to the office or sacrificing the ever-important face-time with their medical providers. These arrangements often require cloud-based solutions or special equipment to support a variety of patient endpoints.

While healthcare AV is full of promise, it’s also not without its growing pains and challenges for integrators. Due to the sensitivity of many medical AV applications, for example, integrators must take special care to ensure the quality and functionality of the technologies they’re installing are top-notch. Color and definition, in particular, must be perfect. In serious cases, poor imagery could result in misdiagnoses or consequential missteps in surgical situations. Because EMRs contain hypersensitive information (including health files and even some financial data), taking steps to bolster information security and proper network configuration are vital. To mitigate these risks, some AV professionals specialize in medical applications. 

What’s Next?

AV is certainly changing the healthcare industry by enabling communication a physician-to-physician, hospital-to-hospital, or patient-to-provider level. Whatever angle you take, it’s apparent AV technologies are a good fit for this relationship-driven industry and are here to stay.

To Stay Competitive, AV Needs to Move from Hardware to Software

Although hardware-free AV will never exist entirely, a hybrid approach of both hardware and software-based solutions is swiftly becoming the new normal in the industry—and rightfully so. After all, a lot has changed since the times of multiple remote controls, separate displays, and simple soundboards. To streamline all of these capabilities and a host of others, software-based AV management (with hardware components) is the future. Today, the industry must take a more software-based approach to stay competitive—here’s why.

New Tools, New Approach

While many technologies moved from hardware to software years ago, AV lagged behind. The last major change in the AV space, in fact, was the switch from analog to digital and the subsequent ascension into VoIP. Now the market is ripe for change. While industry experts report that complete hardware obsolesce will never happen in the AV industry, they’re also quick to point to the need for businesses to transition to software-based systems. The topic is so popular that it was named as one of three top trends to look for at this year’s InfoComm—very telling of its relevance in both the AV and IT space.

Just why, though, are software-based systems so much better than their hardware-based counterparts? Below are five reasons organizations should consider software-based AV systems:

  • Reduced maintenance costs. Software-based AV systems provide the same (if not more) capabilities than their hardware-based counterparts, but they do so with reduced maintenance and operating costs as well as slimmer energy requirements.
  • Reduced space requirements. Software-based systems take up substantially less room than bulky, multi-component hardware setups. (Point to remember: While software setups take up less space in a physical office, they can often take up more space when it comes to server bandwidth—another reason that while AV and IT may never fully converge, they should be on the same page.)
  • Increased computing power of systems. Modern AV control software that facilitates communication to a host of devices—even those remotely located—greatly increases the computing power of an organization’s AV system. Additional benefits exist if the company runs programs via virtual machines, further reducing power consumption and even adding disaster recovery capabilities.

The industry can anticipate an increased market for AV services thanks to the boundaries removed by wireless technologies and lower costs. However, the move from hardware to software could be a sticky one, as existing hardware must function in tandem with new software versions—proof, at least, that IT will never obsolete AV. Rather, a joint approach to solving the collaborative needs of clients is the way of the future, and software-based systems are the first step.

Don’t the AV/IT conversion cloud up your to-do list! Let Spinitar simplify your audio, visual, and communication technologies today!

IT/AV Convergence

AV Integrators: How to Keep Pace with the IT World

In the past, AV integrators were safe in their niche. Their specialized skillsets filled a clear void in the industry that other technological solutions couldn’t address. Today, however, the lines between AV and IT aren’t as clearly defined. AV professionals must incorporate IT skills in order to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Understanding Barriers to AV Industry Growth

Today, IT companies are dominating the communications field because they have the ability to do it all. From AV setups to network support and security administration, companies are offering a complete set of digital communications solutions with which AV-only companies simply can’t compete. In addition to limited IT skills, AV companies must keep pace with the latest trends in the industry. Cloud computing/mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing how consumers use communications platforms.

To meet the needs of consumers who expect seamlessly connected controls of lighting, temperature, sound, visual components, and access control, AV companies must expand their business viewpoints to include the latest unified communications trends. Sensor-based tracking, remote servers and support (AV-as-a-Service), and mobile device adoption are trends changing what it means to communicate using technology.

AV companies can bolster IT skills and enact a culture of change to better compete in today’s technology-driven world—but only if they accept this new direction. The blended nature of IT and AV is natural, and it’s already happening in the business world. Companies that want to move forward must learn to continually adapt to the changing nature of digital communications.

Building a Culture that Embraces IT

Technological changes in universal areas—such as communications, networking, and security—trickle down into every industry. To remain relevant, many AV companies focused on the cutting-edge technology in sound systems and high-resolution video systems, such as 4K. Now, they must expand that focus to embrace a more complete communications experience. In addition to AV components, companies must consider bandwidth, networking, security, and managed services business models.

To start creating a shift, AV companies need the right balance of talent. Instead of hiring AV-exclusive professionals, consider hiring IT professionals with interest or experience in AV systems. With collaborative IT and AV professionals, companies can start to shift existing product offerings to more complete communications setups. Consider these tips to ensure that IT and AV goals remain aligned and provide customers with the best possible communications experience:

  • Expand away from a hardware-based business model. Hardware will always play a role in the AV industry, but as more customers prefer to rely on personal devices, AV companies may struggle to highlight the benefits of commercial-grade equipment. Expanding into a service-based model allows an AV company to manage the experience rather than the hardware.

  • Think about IT considerations early and often. AV systems that integrate with existing technology platforms naturally provide customers with more value than standalone systems. As businesses become accustomed to the idea of connectivity, they expect interoperability in technology-based equipment.

  • Understand the customer’s viewpoint. AV companies with IT expertise can act as a strategic partner in order to offer customers a full communications experience. Evaluate customer technology setups and individual industry trends to offer more insight into the strategic outcome of an implementation.

While IT and AV departments remain distinct, they’re inextricably connected. For AV companies to stay competitive with AV-capable IT firms, they must level the playing field with some IT experience of their own.