Audiovisual systems designer Bonnie J. Metro has a unique perspective on user experience and the importance of AV standards. For the first half of her career, she was the user, hiring AV designers and installers to provide services for a financial institution where she worked for more than 20 years. In 2017, she shifted gears, with a new position as AV systems designer for the Innovative Technology Design Group (ITDG), a multidisciplined technology design group at international architecture and engineering firm DLR Group.
Her work involves “partnering with the architect in creating a sustainable, usable space that elevates the experience of the end-user,” on projects such as museums, K-12 institutions, universities, arenas, and cultural and performing arts spaces. ITDG supports and consults with all 30 of the company’s national and international offices.
“I come into design with years of experience of what it’s like to be the end user, so having that customer experience gives a different perspective in design and helps to focus on the AV industry: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we heading,” she says.
For Metro, utilizing standards in AV design is a key part of her work and she frequently turns to AVIXA standards when creating designs for her clients. “Every client is different and everyone perceives things differently, so by creating these standards AVIXA is defining what the end-result should be, as opposed to spelling out exactly how to do it,” she says.
“The standards provide a way to maintain flexibility but achieve uniformity, as well as an evidence library of how we should work,” she continues. “They don’t limit one’s creativity at getting to the end result, instead they provide a way of measuring and the mathematical parameters you need to complete the task, and they level the playing field.”
Having a generation coming into the workplace that’s been raised on YouTube, she says, has brought with it an expectation that people will be seen and heard. “There isn’t anywhere you go where you’re not bombarded with a visual or auditory message. What was a luxury 20 years ago is now essential and ubiquitous in business life,” she says. “That music or that moving picture has to get there somehow, somebody designs that. You’ve got a 2D image; there’s a standard for that. The projected image contrast ratio; there’s a standard for that. How a rack for all the pieces are assembled; there’s a standard for that, because all the great signage that’s going on the side of a building is getting driven from somewhere—probably a rack in a closet, which should be designed and labeled efficiently.
“It all stems back to what we’re doing as an industry in building a results-driven library for commercial places. To the end-user or passer-by, that’s invisible. But at the same time, there’s no limitation in creativity as to how you achieve that end product.”
She points to several standards she uses on a regular basis, including the Projected Image System Contrast Ratio; Audio Coverage Uniformity in Listener Areas; Audiovisual Systems Energy Management; and AV Systems Performance Verification.
“The whole idea of standardizing is increasing efficiency,” she says. “We’re on the precipice of a revolution in AV, with things like smart city design, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G bandwidth, and as these things get deployed over the next five years, these standards are going to allow us to go further and faster together.
“How are we going to adapt and change? Without standards and without globalization of technology we could have a really uneven result. The investment in using audiovisual professional standards is about delivering consistent expectations resulting in an enhanced experience.”