AV 2020: Where are we headed?

Jenny Hicks, Midwich's head of technology explores how VR tech, trade wars and political uncertainty could impact the AV industry in the next two years.

TK: What’s your outlook for the pro AV market (particularly in EMEA) over the next year or two? For example, are there any technologies with a particularly high interest and adoption (e.g., AR/VR)? If so, what’s driving that demand?

JH: We expect the EMEA market to see steady growth through to 2022. We are still in a period of transition from projection to professional-grade flat-panel displays, and in addition the next transition period has already begun from flat-panel to direct-view LED. Over the next two years we expect to see networked AV solutions and LED more widely adopted, and my personal prediction would be that by 2025, these technology categories will have overtaken their predecessors in revenue performance.

Mega-trending technologies such as AR, VR and AI are becoming more important to understand daily.

AI and machine learning have entered and influenced the AV market the most, with analytics now a must-have for digital signage systems and device and building management, targeted marketing through gender, age and mood recognition and voice control offering the simplest user interface we could hope to achieve. 

Demand for AI and machine learning is already there, and the market is frantically playing catch up to offer the variations on solutions required.

AR has been around for some time and can be achieved using any display technology, but it has been difficult to prove its ROI outside of apps such as Ikea Place and similar. 

For now, AR remains niche mostly found in high end retail environments and interactive training. 

VR is possibly the most exciting as it has so much further to go. What we see now is technology that is suitable and impressive for gaming, museum and leisure applications, but it has so much further to go.

 In many installations, VR drives demand for new hardware such as headsets and will likely increase demand for projection, warp and blending technologies as immersive spaces become more popular with the rise of 360 video content. 

Headsets have a long way to go in terms of development but the future will see us wearing technology to participate in video conferences and suddenly headsets could be as important to us as VC room systems and displays. 

It is an exciting time to be in the industry as the future is filled with completely new tech not simply improved variations of what we already have.

TK: Are there any EMEA countries with a particularly bright or gloomy AV market over the next year or two? And why?  

JH: The UK’s market outlook is impossible to predict with Brexit pending, and we can expect a period of uncertainty that affects spending following Brexit regardless of a deal or no-deal conclusion.

The Middle East is an exciting market for impressive large-scale projects, and all research suggests the DACH region will continue to see success.

TK: How might the trade wars affect pro AV, and how should/could AV firms respond? For example, how might tariffs and currency swings affect prices and margins? Should vendors, distributors and integrators rethink how much inventory they carry and which countries to keep it in?

JH: It is inevitable that prices and resulting margins will be affected by the trade wars, but also likely that negative impact will swing to be positive or vice versa as details become clearer and agreements made. 

Clever buying will be required of distributors to maintain stability for integrators and users.

It feels as though the manufacturers and distributors are all working closely to protect the market in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, so should the channel eventually experience cost increases, it should be a gradual and smooth transition.

Read in-depth feature:Digesting AVIXA's latest IOTA report

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