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Cynthia Wisehart on Technological Advances

You’ll often hear technologists say that we jumped ahead five years in pandemic. Certainly it will be considered one of science and engineering’s finest hours in ways big and small across industries including ours. Where livelihoods and cultural continuity were at stake, AV is coming through. Partly people are more receptive to what we have always been able to do. Partly there has been unforeseen innovation. Of course there has been necessity.

For this issue. I got to talk to Scott Adamertz, head of global tech for Riot Games. He and his colleagues are credited with pulling off one of the best live entertainment adaptations of 2020. They used all the tools—big LED screens, Cisco networks, heavy processing, extended reality, mixed, reality and streaming. They reached millions of viewers. They impressed the world’s elite gamers.

This is an extreme high end example but the little victories are everywhere. My own colleagues Megan A. Dutta and Tom Kenny are putting on truly compelling events—multiples this year for AVIT Summit and the Oscars, just to name two. They’re securing sponsorship from our industry but also for companies including Netflix, Amazon, and Apple—companies that, candidly, would not have looked at our platforms before they were virtual.

Sweetwater has reported that their revenues exceeded $1 billion for the first time. Businesses are thriving and businesses are in pain—sometimes both at once.

So what’s next? Will our reinvention survive a return to “normal”? Will schools be different, will virtual learning be better and permanently available for those who need it or will it be abandoned? Will telehealth continue to take the load off bricks and mortar healthcare? Will it get more people to get help for things that don’t have to happen in person? Will we keep working from home? Or flexibly? Will live entertainment keep up options for those who cannot attend an event in person?

Will we be sick of all this and traumatized? Or will we be changed? At this moment, we have passed through the emergency response and I see more AV options that are adaptive and iterative. I see things happening that are improvements and not just crisis management. But I wonder if it will stick. Will these changes be always associated with trauma? Or will we emerge proud and welcoming of new skills and workflows? What do you think?

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