2020 changed the Audio-Visual industry completely. Before the pandemic, virtual meetings and remote conferencing were “Nice to have” extras set up in some offices.
Video surveillance only needed to record raw footage and video conferencing’s top feature was screen sharing.
The pandemic changed all that. All of a sudden everyone needed to have the equipment for an online meeting. The stock prices of companies like Zoom skyrocketed like never before and the simple screen sharing proved so cumbersome during the collaboration that meetings often would become a game of “Find that button” or “Scroll the right amount”.
And, while the pandemic and the lockdown will pass (hopefully, sooner than later), AV tech will continue to evolve.
How? Here are our predictions.
All-in-one solutions for better online meetings
To conduct an online meeting you need a microphone and a camera. However, connecting these and making sure they work properly would usually result in users asking several times per meeting if everyone can hear or see them.
Even mid-range microphones often have trouble providing good quality sound and while the occasional microphone pop is okay for short calls or for playing online games with your friends on the weekend, it can get very frustrating during an hour-long meeting.
Webcams are also a problem. In recent years the trends of getting slimmer bezels on laptops have forced laptop manufacturers to mount cameras at the bottom of the screen. This makes for a video angle that makes participants in the meeting stare at you from a weird angle as Brad Linder from Lliputing.
Finally, there is the issue of proper lighting. Pretty much no ordinary user has sufficient lighting. This results in murky image quality.
In 2021 we believe that hardware manufacturers will come up with an all-in-one hardware solution that integrates a good quality microphone, camera, and light that is both portable and affordable for the average user
Better integration between video conferencing apps and productivity tools
You might think that in 2020 when most software tools are integrated with each other and work seamlessly together, video conferencing apps would also be easy to integrate into your project management and calendar tools.
Well, that wasn’t the case.
Even right now most companies are still copy-pasting meeting links into their schedules and it’s not uncommon for someone to miss a meeting because they followed the wrong link or couldn’t find out how to start the video-conferencing application.
In 2021 software companies should work on better and more efficient ways to integrate these apps into the already existing workflow and communication tools.
Surveillance cameras becoming smarter
The spread of Covid-19 forced public venue owners to come up with innovative ways to protect their visitors.
The first solution most companies came up with was to simply have someone with a hand thermometer at the entrance measuring the temperature of people who enter.
This resulted in long waiting times and a backlog of people.
To provide a better solution to this problem Security cameras evolved beyond simple footage recorders.
With the use of better software and hardware, a security camera could now include thermal imaging and facial recognition. This can instantly spot someone with abnormal body temperature and immediately alert the responsible staff who can then take action to prevent a dangerous situation.
In 2021 we think this technology will evolve even further and security cameras will be able to actively connect with other surveillance devices to control the flow of crowds.
Self-service technology will become a bigger part of the customer service experience
Whether it’s ordering food, paying bills, buying groceries or simply asking about the availability of an item there would always be some form of human interaction needed.
Since the pandemic forced companies to limit their employee exposure to other people, self-service tech solutions became more widely used.
We don’t really think that a digital touchscreen panel will be able to fully replace the need to talk to a human but in 2021 mundane and simple will probably be done at specialised self-service kiosks.
These are all predictions from ITSL for next year. What do you think 2021 will bring to the AV space?