In the age of COVID-19 – when it’s critically important that people follow social distancing guidelines and wear protective equipment – audio technology solutions are just as important as visual.
That’s leading to a heightened awareness of how people react to audio cues in a variety of environments, including retail, healthcare, transportation, and dozens of other verticals, says Chris Wildfoerster, business development manager for audio solutions at Axis Communications.
For example, a person waiting in line at a retail store might react more immediately to a public service announcement (PSA) about wearing a mask and social distancing than if that information were displayed visually.
When combined with sensors and a video-based analytics platform, PSAs can be triggered to remind people outside a store of social distancing guidelines when the line gets past a certain point.
It can be easy to overlook signage, but it’s hard to ignore audio.
“You can always close your eyes, but you can never close your ears,” Wildfoerster says.
Why audio is so important
With most teams unable to meet in person and offices shifting to a remote- or hybrid-work strategy, videoconferencing has risen as a go-to tool to keep collaboration and workflow moving as well as it did prior to the pandemic.
However, what if there was no audio that came with the video?
“If there was no audio technology solutions, there would be no conversation,” Wildfoerster says. “How many videoconferences have we been on and the pictures are coming through perfect, but the audio keeps dropping out? There’s no communication there, so there’s no meeting.”
In today’s world of pandemics, mass shootings and other emergencies, it’s important that all organizations are equipped to repeat critical instructions.
“You want to keep people informed as to what’s going on around them – especially if its COVID, an emergency, weather alert, active shooter or whatever it might be,” Wildfoerster says.
Why networked audio technology solutions — paired with video — are even more important
According to Wildfoerster, the company is seeing a significant uptick in using networked video and audio together.
The company’s networked solutions use sensors and analytics to trigger video and audio together for things like occupancy and que management.
“If there’s people standing in line, you can make sure they’re social distancing, or if the line gets too long, you can notify the attendants of the store to open another register or terminal,” Wildfoerster says.
For healthcare – an industry currently scrambling to catch up to the pandemic – networked audio technology solutions can help nurses and clinical staff respond to patient needs.
“We have an analytic that measures the ambient noise in a room and if a certain pattern of noise is recognized, you can play a message in that room or notify the nursing staff that something’s going on there,” Wildfoerster says.
The same technology can be used in aggression detection, in which a camera is equipped a microphone that can trigger a response if a certain frequency is met. A camera would then focus on that specific location.
“It really comes down to a complete solution,” Wildfoerster says.