My Latent Brain and the Future of AV Technology

The second in a 3-part series on AV over IP


Image Credit: Franklin Institute

Last weekend I took my kids to the Franklin Institute, a science museum located right in the heart of Philadelphia. For me, the best exhibit there was Your Brain, which explores the complex inner workings of the brain and how it makes sense of the world around us. I learned all about how neurons send electrical and chemical signals, which parts of the brain control which parts of the body, and how the brain constantly processes everything going on around us.

Much to my dismay (and my kids’ delight), I also learned how much slower my 40-something-year-old brain reacts to stimuli than theirs do. In a test where we had to remove our hands from a device as soon as we felt a vibration, my reaction time was more than twice theirs. My signals just don’t travel as fast. Blame it on age, tired muscles, or my cluttered mind; whatever the reason, my brain is a high-latency system.

Simply put, latency refers to the time it takes for a signal to pass from one place to another. It’s a word we hear a lot when we’re talking about AV systems, especially with applications like video conferencing, where there’s real-time interaction with content.

Latency is caused by many different factors, but probably the most significant contributor is video compression. With the advent of HD and 4K (UHD) video, users have come to expect flawless image quality. A true uncompressed 4k signal consumes about 18Gbps of bandwidth, which is greater than what today’s enterprise networks (even 10G) can effectively manage. Therefore, to transmit a 4K signal, the data needs to be compressed.

It takes time to compress and decompress signals, and this time contributes to latency. An ideal AV system would reduce latency to the point that no human can detect it. While zero latency is impossible to achieve, advanced compression technologies (such as H.264 and H.265) now have latencies of 100 milliseconds or less.  (That’s WAY faster than my reaction time if anyone was wondering.)

To learn more about current and future AV technologies, and designing a network that will optimize performance, register for the next Berk-Tek webinar – 3 Key Essentials for Moving AV to the LAN on December 12.

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