AV Over IP Platform Interoperability: What We Learned at ISE 2019

You can learn a lot from attending an industry-leading event like ISE. Whether it was discovering the latest products from your favorite suppliers or witnessing groundbreaking demonstrations of projection mapping, ISE 2019 didn’t disappoint. 

What you may have missed among all the excitement, however, were two displays of platform interoperability that could foreshadow the future of AV over IP technology.

LANG AG Leads the Way in Interoperability

AV over IP interoperability was definitely something of a buzzword at ISE 2019, according to Semtech’s Don Shaver. And it was all thanks to LANG AG, a European systems integrator that provided the first live demonstration of platform interoperability.

Using different elements from four SDVoE systems (Christie, ZeeVee, IDK Corporation, and PureLink), the team at LANG AG were able to create a single seamless AV over IP system that ran off a NETGEAR SDVoE-ready M4300 Ethernet switch.

“Video signals from the four vendors were seamlessly switched together in wall mode, switched from one vendor’s encoder to another vendor’s decoder, some changed to 4K and others to HD — with zero-latency and uncompromised quality in each instance,” says Shaver.

The 2019 showcase built on the success of LANG AG’s ISE 2018 demonstration. Speaking ahead of the event, LANG AG’s Thomas Wendeler said:

“At ISE last year, we presented a technical comparison between various 10G and 1G Ethernet-based video distribution systems. That comparison demonstrated that SDVoE-based products offered lower latency and measurably higher image quality than competing solutions.”

For 2019, Wendeler and his team set their sights on demonstrating the seamless connections between SDVoE-based products from multiple vendors. This helps prove that they make a strong platform not only for AV distribution, but also for signal processing.

It’s no surprise LANG AG was the first AV supplier to pull off such a demonstration when you consider their pedigree. “As one of the leading system integrators that advocates quality and innovation, the company is confronted with situations where interoperability plays a critical role on a daily basis,” writes the team at ET Now

There are few companies better placed to deal with the issue of interoperability, either, says Semtech’s Kamran Ahmed. “LANG AG’s expertise and status as a trusted, unbiased third-party makes them uniquely positioned to show how BlueRiver technology allows SDVoE-based products from multiple vendors to operate seamlessly together as a platform for AV distribution and signal processing.”

This suggests that there is fierce competition for AV corporations moving into the SDVoE market, especially in the coming years.

IS SDVoE Taking the Lead over HDBaseT?

HDBaseT-IP and SDVoE may just be starting one of the largest industry changes that AV has seen. “HDBaseT-IP vs. SDVoE is the next big battle of the living room, each vying to become the reigning standard for long-distance AV over IP,” says CEPro’s Jason Knott.

When it comes to building an interoperable AV over IP solution, ISE 2019 suggests that SDVoE clearly has the upper hand.

An almost complete absence of interoperability was one reason that rAVe Pubs’ Gary Kayye labeled HDBaseT a disaster waiting to happen. With the seamless interoperability of SDVoE showcased at ISE 2019, Kayye could quickly be proved right.  

If LANG AG’s interoperability demonstration wasn’t enough, there was a further display on the SDVoE Alliance stand. The Alliance also held a roundtable on the topic, reports Installation International’s Michael Garwood. Led by LANG AG’s Thomas Wendeler, the talk explained some of the key benefits of having vendors that can work seamlessly together. 

The SDVoE Alliance certainly see themselves as the new standard, thanks to their success with interoperability. The SDVoE Alliance’s Janet Matey writes that while HDBaseT tried and failed to succeed with interoperability, SDVoE technology fulfils this promise.

The SDVoE Alliance may be in the lead, but they aren’t pulling clear in the interoperability race just yet. While LANG AG and the SDVoE were showcasing their interoperability success at their ISE booths, the HDBaseT Alliance were doing likewise. 

Ariel Sobelman, president of the HDBaseT Alliance, realizes the importance of interoperability when it comes to AV over IP. He used ISE to demonstrate that HDBaseT could also offer some level of interoperability from certified products. That being said, it appears the level of interoperability demonstrated by HDBaseT fell short of their AV over IP rivals. 

The Growing Importance of AV Over IP Interoperability

If ISE 2019 told us one thing for definite about the future of platform interoperability, it was that the concept is going to become even more important as the AV over IP market grows and expands. 

Proprietary technology is not the answer when it comes to AV over IP breakthroughs, says Justin Kennington, president of the SDVoE Alliance. “What’s attractive about IP is not cheap switches, and it’s not really fast-blinking activity LEDs. It’s the promise of interoperability. Interoperability is something that PC users, IT admins, and technology end users expect from every type of communications equipment that isn’t AV.”

Demand for AV over IP has been growing for several years. In 2017, AV Network’s Justin O’Connor wrote that interoperability is a noble quest. If it were achieved, it would mean that suppliers and manufacturers would be able to specialize their offerings, developing only what they were best at. It would also mean that integrators would be able to customize AV over IP systems to a client’s specific needs without having to worry about whether parts worked together or not. 

“It is very helpful to recognize that AV/IP is not a protocol, or a standard,” says Martin Fishman, VP at Arista Corporation. “AV/IP is a solution to distributing video streams that utilize IT networks and harnesses the benefits of network topography.”

It’s in harnessing this topography and making all the pieces fit that integrators would be able to offer a much more valuable service to their customers. That’s the promise of AV over IP.

And in offering a better service, integrators also work more efficiently, the team at Commercial Integrator writes. Integrators can receive a base level of training on the underlying platform (SDVoE, for instance) that lets them understand how any system can work, regardless of the component suppliers. 

At the same time, companies would be able to upgrade and expand their AV over IP systems quickly and cost-effectively, without having to stick to the original supplier or start over from scratch. 

For the first time in years, these prospective benefits look tantalizingly close. At ISE 2019, LANG AG and the SDVoE Alliance took one giant leap towards making AV over IP platform interoperability a reality for integrators and consumers. 

Images by Liam Martens, Thomas Jensen, Campaign Creators

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