Exploring the Untapped Potential of Digital Audio

By Wai King Wong, Regional Director at Axis Communications

20 years of transformation has led us to the digitisation of audio, but the efficiency, convenience and opportunity born from this advancement is yet to be realised by the majority of the market. Digital audio facilitates the recording, storage, manipulation, generation and reproduction of sound using audio signals encoded in digital form. Just as businesses have grown accustomed to the increasingly sophisticated capabilities of their video cameras and visual surveillance systems, so too should they expect more from their audio solutions.

A diverse cross-section of industries have so far embraced the potential of digital audio products, turning to IP speakers that have the technology to fulfill their unique needs. Early adopters in the retail space have enjoyed the capabilities of a centralised IP speaker system, which can play suitable music and audio tracks customised to the shopper demographics in different areas of a precinct, ultimately contributing to an improved customer experience. These customers also require multiple speakers installed across a vast space, and are able to remotely monitor if any of the speakers are experiencing outages without the inconvenience of manually checking all inventory across their network.

The education sector has also moved to update their outdated, analogue-supported PA systems, and are now able to communicate targeted bells and announcements to different student cohorts. Industries like these, which lack dedicated tech support staff, are especially reliant on smart, streamlined audio solutions that require minimal technical intervention. The Fullarton School, located in South Australia, sought audio technology that could be driven from a central location, with zoning capabilities and the option to easily customise the system further once deployed. IP speakers, which operate free from a supporting network of cables and amplifiers, allowed for enhanced user capability by removing complicated and tedious technical barriers.

The capabilities of these modern audio solutions are also critical for safety and risk and damage mitigation. An inbuilt microphone in IP speakers offers audio intelligence, picking up gunshots and any sounds of distress. The speaker can then play different sounds to neutralise high stress situations and help to control the environment through eliciting a desired emotional response. Various customers have utilised this technology to alert thieves and vandals that they are being surveyed, which has had proven success in deterring escalating threats and further damages.

Why then, do these significantly more compact and intelligent digital audio solutions have only 1 percent market penetration? The simple answer is this technology is still brand new, and customers are only now realising the digitalised movement extends to all their security needs. From a cost perspective, IP speakers are also more expensive than analogue speakers – but unlike analogue, they are also a holistic solution that don’t require a network of supporting assets in order to function. Aesthetically, customers may also want a speaker to look a certain style, and analogue modes offer more variety than IP at this stage, which is to be expected given how much longer they’ve been available to the market.

We can expect to see a greater conversion to digital audio solutions in the years ahead, once the awareness of this technology and all its benefits are widely known to the market. Products like IP speakers, which are internet-supported, are also the best way to future-proof any business, given our reliance on internet-connected devices is increasing all the time. In the interest of scalability, flexibility and a fully-integrated security system, digital audio solutions are the one investment worth considering.