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Why experience matters

Carefully crafted AV designs can elevate experiences of learning, entertainment, and engagement. It’s a time for ingenuity, and the AV industry has a big role to play in the way people experience the world, says Dan Goldstein, chief marketing officer, AVIXA.

Why experience matters

As Aristotle said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For the AV industry, the experience is greater than the sum of tech. The tech is ultimately there to impact the user – improve a collaboration experience to bring job satisfaction, enhance a sporting event to make it more exciting, make a space flexible to fulfil a myriad of purposes.

That’s why InfoComm International rebranded itself to the Audiovisual Integrated Experience Association back in 2017. We weave that ideology of experience into everything we do and celebrate it. Figuratively and sometimes literally.

Last September, AVIXA launched the AV Experience Awards to recognise AV projects that create different types of experiences: dynamic art, in person, individualised, immersive, collaborative, and flexible spaces. The winning projects are impressive and not always because they feature cutting-edge technology – some don’t. They are impressive because they transformed a space to fit a purpose.

At Harvard Business School, they can have 1,000 students effectively communicate with each other across the room through a voice lift system. Qatar University’s Sports and Event Complex can flex from a ceremonial event for an audience of 5,000 to a sporting event for 3,200.

The DATAGATE: NASA AI Astronomical Sculpture allows the public to observe the exoplanets on a 15-tonne, 360 LED installation. At the Yogi Berra Museum, you can hurl a baseball at the virtual Yankee catcher. The Alchemist Restaurant allows you to feast underneath the Northern Lights or surrounded by sea life thanks to a dome ceiling illuminated by 10 projectors. And, the 15-foot tall sculpture Sviatovid takes art to a new dimension with 360-degree projection mapping. Through carefully crafted AV designs, these experiences of learning, entertainment, and engagement were taken to a higher level.

People might think the experience is less important now that many of us are not only spending much leisure time at home but also working and learning via Zoom. However, that is not the case. Campus and work communications is more important than ever. People who never or rarely ever used video communications and collaboration tools are now having to use them every day. Overnight, corporate and school AV and IT departments had to aggressively scale up these tools. And the experience can’t be mediocre.

Post-Covid, competition among public places will become more intense. How will you entice people to venture out to a retail store, restaurant, sporting event, or concert? How do you attract people to the office versus working from home? First and foremost, people need to feel safe. Second, the experience must be different than anything someone can have at home.

This is where AV professionals shine. With social distancing practices in a school, for example, it’s key to have impeccable audio and video so students can see and hear from any part of a classroom, and use videoconferencing to communicate with students not in the physical space.

Since the launch of the iPhone, touchscreen technology in public spaces has become more and more regular, but that is going to change. We will require another way to control the technology that is not a shared touchscreen. If there is going to be a touchscreen, it will need to be your personal device. It must provide access to everything in a workplace building – video, sound, lighting, and so on. This will require better integration of AV, IT, and building management systems.

The entertainment industry has been deeply impacted by Covid-19 – large gatherings, from concerts, sports events, and movie theatres, are extremely hard to come by. But the industry will come back – it will just look a bit different. People thrive on communal experiences.

For example, drive-in movie theatres are currently having a bit of a resurgence in the United States. According to Deadline, 160 of the top-grossing 201 cinemas across the country were drive-ins during the weekend of June 20-21. Performances overall, from comedy shows to concerts, can adapt to an outdoor model. This requires ample audio and video to be a success.

The world is always in motion. We might not know for certain what our everyday life will look like in the years to come, but we all have a part to play to improve it. It’s a time for ingenuity, and the AV industry has a big role in the way people experience the world.

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Posted: 25th August 2020

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