Engaging Technology

Video’s Resurgence in the Battle of Sensory Immersion
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As you walk the aisles of the CEDIA EXPO in Dallas this month, you’ll be bombarded with a combination of sights and sounds that culminate in what will likely be a memorable experience to be shared with your installation team and clients back home.

In a way, CEDIA showcases audio vs. video in a macro version of the entertainment spaces that you design every day. And it’s this idea of competing sensory elements that I encountered recently during the HTSA 2015 Fall Conference in Chicago. Several conversations made it clear to me that the advent of 4K/UHD is placing video display technology squarely back in the wheelhouse of custom integrators, all while loudspeaker companies continue to push boundaries with luxury audio innovations.

I spent the first part of one morning at HTSA chatting with friends from Sony and LG about HDR, 4K/UHD, laser projection, and OLED technology creating higher price points for video, even without the full-resolution content yet available (thanks to great upscaling, improved color gamut, luminance, and contrast). Later I sat through a demo for B&W’s completely reimagined and redesigned 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers. The monumental changes to these speakers involve a vast number of technological, engineering, and acoustic innovations that combine to create an amazing listening experience.

In one HTSA session, titled “The Importance of Audio,” the point was made that despite vast improvements to video quality, audio still has the potential to be the most realistic of the two media. With the best audio design and technology, for instance, one can create an experience that comes quite close to replicating the outside world, whereas video will always appear on a screen and thus not be entirely “believable.” The days are long gone with a theater full of people running for the exits as a projected image of a locomotive chugs their way from the screen.

The point is that video and audio seem to be ramping up at the same time, making for a very entertaining time again in this business.

This is not to say that audio and video will be the sole focus of CEDIA EXPO. That show really has become a “solutions convention,” where far less glamorous products that help other products play well together “behind the scenes” tend to dominate the show floor. There’s no doubt that the network is king now, as we all become more and more dependent on streaming media and other connected devices. One HTSA member put it this way to me: “The network used to be a lost line item in our proposals, but now it takes the most energy to get it right.” And even in our app-based culture, don’t sleep on the importance of a well-designed control system that brings all of the disparate pieces of a massive project together.

But if I’m being totally honest, CEDIA is at its best when there are a lot of immersive demos. When it comes to engaging the senses, whether visual or auditory, through technology at CEDIA, there are no losers…just winners.