An audio visual control system is a single device responsible for connecting and controlling audio visual equipment. Think of it as the command centre for all your av technology and usually takes the form of a touchscreen or keypad, providing an interface to control each piece of hardware.
The aim is to provide a simple, central, user-friendly way of controlling av equipment used in areas such as an office, meeting room, or auditorium. Many devices can be effortlessly controlled at the touch of a button, for example:
- Sound system
- Conference telephone
- Window blinds
- Large Format Displays
- Digital Signage
- Interactive whiteboard
Why do I need a control system?
Without a control system all of the audio visual equipment used would need to be accessible in the room so you could adjust the settings as and when required. You might need to physically move from one piece of equipment to the next, making individual adjustments as you go. Or use multiple remote controls (if you can find them).
The room would be littered with wires, cabling, and remotes. This could lead to interruptions or delays if any adjustments needed to be made during the meeting. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea preparing and setting up a room in this way, and IT personnel probably have better things to do.
And let’s not forget the trailing wires and cables which could negatively affect the perception and image of a brand. Don’t underestimate their seemingly harmless appearance!
All this contributes to a detrimental impact on engagement and enjoyment for presenters and attendees, making it easy to see that many businesses could reap huge rewards from control systems.
What are the benefits of control systems?
The role of the workplace is changing and a hybrid approach has been adopted by many. This means that the video conference market is projected to increase from an estimated $7.9 billion in 2021 to more than $50 billion by 2026. In line with this trend, video conferencing technology is constantly advancing.
However, state of the art equipment doesn’t necessarily translate to the perfect video conference experience. It has to suit the business, and be utilised effectively.
When a presenter enters the room, they want to present, not spend time and effort setting up devices. The complexities of audio visual equipment when controlled individually can often require significant training, and help from IT support. Some AV equipment can be intimidating and put people off using it altogether.
A control system, on the other hand, is designed to be an intuitive way for you to control everything from one location, with minimal training. It allows you to easily make the most of the technology you’ve invested in which will naturally lead to enhanced creativity. Presentation quality will improve and productivity will increase, due to the reduced strain on personnel and their time.
The first audio visual control systems were developed in the early 1970s, consisting of tape readers able to control slide projectors. Crestron, one of the leading manufacturers of advanced control and automation systems, was formed in 1968 and developed a wireless remote control for commercial AV systems in the mid 1970s.
The 1980s saw the emergence of room control technology capable of connecting lighting, curtains, audio systems and video. They weren’t cheap though, requiring a custom design, and had to be built as part of an event space.
There weren’t many opportunities for last minute tweaks as they relied on pre-produced slides and a crew of technicians. The only other option open to you was to use an overhead projector or video player yourself.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that ‘out of the box’ touchscreen control systems became available. The speed and ease of use of these early products were severely lacking compared to today’s standards. This was partly due to developments in connection and communication protocols where industry standards were still emerging.
In the decades that followed these issues were settled and manufacturers sought to improve the quality of user interfaces. It was essential to make sure they were as beautiful and intuitive as those developed by the market leaders of the smartphone and tablet industries.
Choosing the right equipment
There’s no doubt that AV technology is getting smarter all the time. Happily, the best control systems are future-proofed to allow them to grow and communicate with new equipment. But there’s a vast range of audio visual control systems available which makes choosing the right one difficult.
A major consideration is ensuring you get something which is both versatile and user friendly. It has to meet your needs now as well as where the technology you use may be headed in the future. But that doesn’t mean you should get something mind-bendingly complex (unless you’re planning your next sales pitch to be something akin to a West End theatrical show!).
An entry level option includes the ability to control all the major equipment from a single panel, while a more advanced product will allow you to program combination events. For instance a single button could dim the lights, lower the window blinds, and turn on the presentation screens and speakers.
Installation and setup
Digital Vision AV can guide you along the path of choice for your organisation’s AV control system and manage the installation and setup. Whatever your requirements, we can recommend the ideal solution. We’ll carry out a site survey free of charge and suggest equipment which we feel is best suited to you and your business.
Once installed we’ll carry out testing and training to make sure you get the most out of your investment. In no time you’ll maximise the effectiveness of presentations, meetings and video conferences for both clients and attendees.