What is Audio Visual Integration?
You may have heard of audio visual integration, likely from an audio visual integrator when describing what they do. It’s a mainstream term in the industry, but for most audio visual integration is like the word strategy. People have an idea of what it means, but a cohesive definition doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
We’ll start with audio visual-
Audio visual is: “of or relating to both hearing and sight”.
This makes sense when you think of video conferencing and how conversation is enhanced by the ability to see the person you’re talking to. Next is integration, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the action or process of integrating”. That’s not very helpful, so we dig deeper and find that
Integrating means: “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole”.
What is audio visual integration?
By combining these two definitions, we can craft a better explanation of what audio visual integration is. Here’s the Neurilink version of audio visual integration.
Audio visual integration is the blending of technologies related to hearing and sight into a unified whole. It is the process of coordinating speakers, microphones, projectors, displays, control panels, video conferencing software, and other technologies into a functioning solution.
However, there’s another key piece to audio visual integration: design. Neurilink is an audio visual design and integration firm, we help people connect and communicate through audio visual technology.
AV design and integration is a lot more than hanging displays on a wall and plugging them in. The design piece is critical, it enables the team to integrate the technologies into a functioning solution. It requires trained designers to map out the entire system, making sure each technology is compatible and, when combined, able to create the outcome the customer envisions.
Working with a firm that both designs and integrates the solution provides the opportunity to have input earlier in the process. You’ll be able to provide feedback on the design of your solution to ensure it aligns with your vision. Instead of receiving a cookie-cutter system that may meet some but not all your needs, you’ll get a custom solution crafted specifically for your space.
Other elements of a solid audio visual system design are control system programming, user interface layouts, architectural drawing packages and system documentation. Each of these elements plays a key role in providing systems that function properly and reliably.
After the design process is complete, technicians can begin integrating the hardware. They physically go to the site, pull in wire, mount displays, install speakers and screens, connect the different electronic components, and make sure everything functions properly.
What happens after the install?
You could have the best system in the world, and something can go wrong. AV systems have many variables: hardware from multiple manufacturers, software from other manufactures, custom written code, network limitations, space constraints, electrical circuits, software and hardware updates… the list goes on and on.
The question lies in what an AV design and integration firm will do if, and when, something goes wrong. System support is critical and should be part of any AV integrator’s arsenal.
You don’t buy a car and expect to fix it yourself when a dashboard light comes on (well maybe some would, but probably not most of us). You rely on the experts who immerse themselves in technical knowledge to get it back up and running. It’s the same with AV. An AV integration firm is really an AV design, integration and support firm.
Where does IT fit into things?
It depends on who you ask. If you’re familiar with the audio visual industry, you have probably heard of Infocomm. It’s a trade association for the AV industry, but it is more commonly known for the Infocomm trade shows put on every year across the globe. In order to differentiate the association from the show, Infocomm changed the association’s name to AVIXA. AVIXA is the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association.
In a press conference, AVIXA’s CEO stated, “AV is not the IT industry”. AVIXA goes on to clarify that IT is a building block of AV, along with audio, video, and other technologies.
If you ask someone in IT, they’ll probably agree that AV is a different animal. However, IT and AV must work together to create a successful experience. It’s two sides to the same coin, especially as AV over IP continues to gain traction. If the network isn’t reliable, your video conferencing experience isn’t going to be good. Conversely, if an AV system has a glitch, the complaints usually hit IT’s desk.
This brings us back to audio visual integration. The essence of audio visual integration is to coordinate technologies relating to hearing and sight into a functioning and unified whole. The relationships with IT and ongoing support is critical in the long-term success of this unified whole. An AV integration company needs a:
- Strong system foundation built by the design and engineering team
- Team of knowledgeable technicians that understand the technologies they are implementing
- Partnership between the AV integrator and the company’s IT group
- Support program and capacity to follow through
When you choose an audio visual integration firm, you might consider asking questions to explore each of these four pillars, examples of past projects, and their support options. When vision aligns with budget and a skillful integrator, AV can change how your organization communicates. It can connect employees in separate locations, enable the sharing of knowledge to students, and create marketing ROI. Finding an audio visual integrator that has the experience and knowledge to deploy effective systems is a key step in getting to a successful outcome.