AV installations are pretty technical things: bringing together a network of devices — each with their own unique specifications — in order to produce a cohesive effect often lends itself to an increased focus on everything granular and technical. But Joseph Cornwall, Technology Evangelist for Legrand AV, thinks visual communication design is an often-overlooked, yet crucial part of the audio visual puzzle.
What does that mean? It means he thinks installers don’t often think about HOW their technological creations actually communicate what their clients intended.
Yes, to a certain extent, designing something like a menu board is going to be fairly straightforward… but anything beyond that is going to warrant careful consideration of what Cornwall calls “the four vectors of visual communication.”
1 – Machine-to-Machine
This is his way of describing devices that can communicate with each other — IoT is a prime example.
“Frankly, for the last 50 years in the AV industry, this is where we stopped thinking about AV,” Cornwall said at a the Almo E4 Experience in NYC.
“Did the machine talk to the machine and did I get a picture? But today, we have to think about it like, ‘not only did the tech work and there’s a picture, but AV itself IS IoT!'”
The 50 billion IoT devices out there are, in fact, AV devices, since they’re activating things like lights, sounds, etc.
2 – Human-to-Machine
How do we communicate with the devices and systems we design?
Beyond laser pointers, most of what humans do to control technology consists of a keyboard or a remote control… but Cornwall says this, too, is an outdated means of thinking about what AV systems can be with better visual communication design.
“Even if you’re controlling a system with an app on you’re phone, the basic concept remains that this is technically a remote control,” not unlike the old fashioned TV box remotes. “How many of you have a truly smart home? How many people can walk into their home and ask a machine to turn on the lights?”
“If it were truly a smart home, the user wouldn’t have to ask for those things to activate.”
Geofencing is the ability for sensors to realize a certain reality and, through pre-programming, react to that situation technologically (example: a system shutting down a smart home’s security cameras when the homeowner returns home — without said homeowner having to ask). Or a doorlock which unlocks when the homeowner approaches.
“Are we designing our AV systems to take advantage of something that every teenager or younger has in their repertoire of technology?”
3 – Machine-to-Human
How do humans actually receive the content driven by technology?
“Up until 2016, there was no tried-and-true manner for us to say what screen size we needed based on resolution. The way we designed a system was identical if it was 480p, 1080i, or 2160p… isn’t that silly?”
Today, he says, we’re thinking more in terms of the end-resolution. And we should continue to do so.
While 8K may seem like the next big thing, 4K and even HDR resolutions still have a place… and integrators should strive to identify which is truly the best to use in certain situations, he says.
4 – Human-to-Human
This point addresses the content and the message it is trying to convey. After all, without knowing about content, it makes it challenging to create an AV system, Cornwall says.
“Would you think differently about an AV system if I told you it was going to be used in an elementary school to teach children versus one used in a hospital for diagnostics? Do you want the same resolution on those, the same color accuracy? Or would you like to think of them as different situations with different needs?”
This is the type of conversation Cornwall says integrators should be having with their clients: one focused on content and the intention behind it.
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