Integration: an Emerging AV Theme
Vendors broaden product lines and begin to deliver turnkey solutions.
Integrated systems, a common technology theme, is making its mark in the educational Audio Visual (AV) marketplace. Interactive whiteboard makers are releasing projectors, and projector makers are delivering student response systems, turning equipment suppliers into a one-stop shop for presentation tools.
For instance, ELMO USA developed a turnkey Student Response System (SRS) that features a projector, data input devices, wireless connections, and response gathering software. Another example of convergence comes from Smart Technologies Inc. The vendor enhanced its Smart Board line of interactive whiteboards, so they work with Smart projectors and Smart notebooks. With such solutions, teachers develop interactive classroom lessons that improve the education process.
Schools IT departments benefit from the integrated systems in a couple of ways. The first is simpler installation. Since the various devices come from one vendor, they have common interfaces and interconnections, so deployment becomes faster.
Troubleshooting also becomes easier. Because the products work from a consistent management foundation, school IT personnel find it easier to pinpoint problems. Rather than work with a series of different user interfaces, they rely on a common set of commands, so addressing any performance issues requires less time.
But there are potential tradeoffs with these integrated systems. In certain cases, the vendors’ new product “package” does not match the functionality found in alternatives coming from suppliers specializing in one area, say delivering projectors exclusively.
In sum, collaboration technologies are becoming more common in the education AV market. The movement toward turn-key systems helps schools deploy and manage their systems more easily; however, overall system functionality may be reduced. Schools can find help weighing the pluses and minuses of these emerging solutions with input from third party system integrators who specialize in the education AV space, and have generally have good visibility on the variety of options.