AV Magazine interviewed Datapath’s Strategic Business Development Manager, EMEA, Greg Babbs about how video wall technology has changed over the last 12 months.
AV Magazine: How have the needs and priorities of video wall owners changed and developed (e.g. in the context of the cost of living crisis, spiralling energy prices, changing working and leisure patterns, etc)? What’s most important to them now, and how are video wall technology manufacturers and suppliers adapting to deliver it?
Greg Babbs: In terms of Control Rooms in particular, we have definitely seen a strategic re-think among our end users the past 12-24 months. Control Rooms are less affected when it comes to hybrid-working than other video wall technology applications due to the necessity to be physically present.
End users are definitely aware of, and acting upon the rises in construction material and floor space costs; energy prices; carbon footprint; and AV/IT component costs among other things. This includes the Operators themselves and their roles and responsibilities from a headcount perspective, and where they can use AI and Digitalisation to aid in task automation and optimisation.
Video walls still form a key part of overall tactical situational awareness within Control Rooms and so they continue to play a crucial role – but with the developments and growth of technology platforms like AVoIP and dynamic KVM Workspace solutions – then this has enabled customers to approach Control Room design from a different perspective.
Video Wall Technology Advancements
AVM: How about support video wall technologies – content management, processing, interactivity, control, mounting and so n? What developments have there been here?
GB: From a video wall processing point-of-view, what is key for our customers is the capability to treat the tactical video wall in a much more dynamic way. Video wall content management was quite often a set of pre-determined content arrangement layouts and lived on devices/software outside of an Operators day-to-day workflow.
That said, incident management is a fluid process. Pertinent information and its presentation and display on the video wall solution depends entirely on the situation at hand and which teams and personnel have been mobilised and brought together to manage them – and can change rapidly.
As such, the potential combinations of what content is relevant at any given time can be hard to nail down into presets. At Datapath, one of the unique advantages of our Aetria solution is that it provides an integrated workflow for Operators and Supervisors to have a truly dynamic Video Wall. As a direct result, Control Room designers may not necessarily need such large physical spaces to accommodate vast quantity of screens.
In addition, through AVoIP, content is now freely distributable to other areas such as Gold Command Incident Management Rooms, Supervisor Stations, Auxillary Displays and more, aiding the reduction in the physical size and layout of the video wall technlogy.
Empowering the Operator
GB: From an Operator perspective, solutions like Datapath’s Aetria Workstation remain hotly sought after. Traditional Operator Workspace and KVM technologies have forced the hand of Control Room designers, resulting in large amounts of Monitors, often arranged in 2 or 3 rows. This creates further challenges in sightlines, acoustics and incident collaboration.
Dynamic KVM Workspace and video wall technology like Aetria Workstation bring on a whole new approach and are being welcomed with open arms. By allowing Operators to combine multiple applications in a single pixel space, Operators can view their required applications in 2 or 3 monitors (sometimes even 1). Even more than this, incident management collaboration can now drastically improve.
With dynamic content sharing, the Control Room personnel layout no longer faces the same challenges, so stories of colleagues shouting over from multiple desks away or all crowding around a single Operators desk to view a live incident in an application window can hopefully become a rare exception.
AVM: Looking ahead, what new developments can we expect to see in video wall technology and usage over the next few years, and what advantages might these bring?
GB: I believe we will continue to see AVoIP content distribution become the defacto standard in just about every viable scenario with 10GbE becoming the norm as it gives visually lossless content delivery for both 1080p and 4K resolution sources – I haven’t heard any of my customers talking about 8K yet so I expect that to be a long way off still.
As I mentioned before, I expect more of the same in terms of the movement to DVLED replacing display technologies like LCD and Rear-Projection Cubes. One thing is for sure. The evolution in video wall technologies is going to be exciting for all involved.