General Trends and Forecasts for AV & Automation Systems in 2014

February saw the 4ward-design team heading off to the annual Integrated Systems Europe tradeshow in Amsterdam – one of the leading trade shows in the audio-visual and automation spheres. Targeted at the professional, custom-installation market, rather than consumer gimmicks, the show is an invaluable indicator of the direction the AV and automation market is taking, and which of the latest products and trends will be hitting the marketplace.

Having returned with renewed excitement and enthusiasm, we thought we’d share some of the general developments that we can expect in the very near future of audio-visual, automation and energy management technology.

To read about product-specific developments that will affect and enhance 4ward-designs own future installations, read ‘What’s new from 4ward-design in 2014’ here.

4K Technology: Much more than HD

4K technology is widely acknowledged as the next step in high definition display, and was showcased by numerous exhibitors at the ISE 2014. 4K is often referred to as 4x HD, but actually refers to a horizontal resolution of 4000 pixels. While the numbers might not mean much to the average layperson, the effects are clearly visible, as crystal clarity becomes possible on a far larger scale than ever before.

4K technology is set to take both the home audio visual and corporate audio visual markets by storm, with 4K-capable displays and projectors, and switching and routing technology for 4K feeds becoming available.

Next Level Video Conferencing

In general, excellent improvements have been made in video conferencing audio and image quality, but the most exciting developments in this sphere relate to real-time data and communications sharing.

BYOD, or “bring your own device” technology has been edging on to the scene for a while, but ISE exhibitors showed great improvements on this video conferencing tool. Multiple devices and formats are becoming commonly supported, and it’s only a matter of time before BYOD becomes a standard extension to the modern conferencing environment.

This movement is supported by all the known players in the video conferencing market, who are showing unified communication integration across a wide variety of devices.

3D Audio: Immersive Sound for the Home Theatre

Home theatre installation is one of 4ward-design’s specialties, and we were excited to see and experience the latest technology in this sphere. There were quite a few purpose-built home theatre rooms at the show, used to demonstrate the cutting edge equipment and technology.

One of the most interesting developments was the 3D audio setup showcased by Auro Technologies and demonstrated in a fully-functioning home theatre environment. With sound coming from all around, including above, Auro’s 3D audio cocoons the listener in extraordinarily lifelike sound.

Having experienced it for ourselves, 4ward-design is confident in the high-quality experience Auro’s technology offers, and we plan to integrate immersive audio setups in our own upcoming home theatre installations.

Energy Management Systems: Greener than Ever

Energy efficiency remains a top priority in the industry, with energy management functions becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury.

Home automation manufacturers have made good progress in the area of energy-saving smart home design by introducing smart metering products, lighting control systems, and increased system connectivity. These improvements allow users to benefit from automatic energy management features that require no manual operation.

General technological advancements have also been made to reduce the energy consumption of equipment in the home and office. Improvements in power supply and amplifier technology, and smart features incorporated into equipment, reduces power consumption both during use and while on standby.

LED lighting continues to grow, and support for this in home and office automation systems continues to improve.

Corporate AV

On top of the abundant 4K projector and displays showcased, digital signage and video walls also show remarkable improvements. Picture quality has advanced, and bezels are noticeably slimmer, allowing for video walls with negligible image obstruction from the bezels (or frames) of the screens.

Huddle meeting room systems were a popular show feature in the corporate audio visual sector, showing the increased consumer demand for informal meeting spaces for colleague collaborations. The systems that were showcased allow users to bring their own devices (BYOD), connect to a central system with ease, and switch between users at the touch of a button.

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