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THE FAST PACE OF CHANGE

During the opening panel discussion of this year’s ISE, IT in AV: Interconnecting for Smart Solutions, discussion moderator and Wired UK’s editor-in-chief David Rowan discussed how AV and IT are colliding in today’s breakneck speeds of technological advancement, and how sensors in particular are bringing the AV and tech worlds together.

“If you think AV is going to be what it was last year, it’s all going to change very quickly,” said Rowan. “You’re in a very exciting moment of two worlds colliding: the sensor connected world colliding with the storytelling tools of audio-visual. I think that’s a big moment of potential growth for a lot of people’s businesses here [at ISE].”

Rowan name-dropped Moore’s Law, often seen as the reference point and explainer as to how quickly technology has been advancing in the 51 years since Gordon E Moore first made the predictions that crystalised into the Law.

In 1965 Gordon E Moore, who was co-founder of what was to become the Intel Corporation in 1968, made the observations that became known as Moore’s Law. Electronics magazine had asked him to write an article predicting what would happen in the semiconductor component industry in the subsequent 10 years. He was, at that time director of R&D at Fairchild Semiconductor, making him something of an expert in the field.

Moore looked at all of the elements being used in chips at the time (approximately 60 transistors, resistors, capacitors, and diodes) and based on their use in the preceding years, concluded that the semi conductor industry would double elements every year for 10 years until they hit 60,000 per chip.

Ten years on from this and his prediction was proved to be accurate, prompting a colleague to coin the term ‘Moore’s Law’. But Moore wasn’t done, and revised his prediction to a doubling of elements in a chip every two years, and the Law eventually became a driving force in itself, encouraging manufacturers to keep pace with it. Today’s chips boast billions of transistors, and this huge mass of tech was driven by Moore’s Law. The industry still uses the Law to guide planning and set targets for R&D!

Moore’s Law’s impact on technology cannot be overstated. If there had been no Moore’s Law would personal computers, the Internet, smartphones and touch displays exist, for instance? Almost certainly not. Moore’s Law has determined our technological reality and – as David Rowan asserts –continues to do so at a faster rate than ever.

Things are certainly moving very quickly indeed. You’ve only got to look at the pace of interactive technological advancement since Minority Report (“pretty good at predicting” what the future means for AV, according to Rowan) made its bold visual predictions for interactive tech in 2002 – a lifetime away in technological terms and a full five years before Apple launched the iPhone.

It took us a few years to catch-up with Spielberg’s vision – advised at the time by a future-gazing John Underkoffler, now Oblong’s CEO – but now things are racing along at Moore’s Law pace. Virtual Reality, gesture interaction and whatever it is that the $1.3million-invested wizards at Magic Leap are leading up to (“some kind of display technology” according to Rowan): AV and IT are converging at pace in our über-networked, über-connected world.

Great news for AV, of course. But there are potential pitfalls ahead, as those AV integrators with no head for IT are beginning to find out. As Rowan explained at the RAI: “Once you network everything, there is vulnerability.” As AV and IT continue to converge and the 20-years-established, corporate demands on IT companies (security, security and security!) become more applicable to AV businesses, we’re sure to witness a sea change in the AV industry; one that will almost certainly result in a reduction in traditional AV integrators plying their trade. Survival of the IT fittest, perhaps.

In the connected world of the Cloud, security is key. As John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco, commented: “There are two types of company: those who have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.”

By Bigger Boat Chief of Police Rob Lane. This is an abridged version of a commissioned piece for Installation magazine, April 2016. Read the full version here.

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