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IP speakers growing dynamic outside the security industry

IP speakers growing dynamic outside the security industry
From paging to playing music, the applications are numerous.
IP Speakers are primarily used as a security solution as most of the large manufacturers that offer this technology are from the security industry. However, this does not mean its use is limited to protecting people and assets. In many verticals, IP speakers are taking over the role of traditional speakers in announcements and paging. Retail, for instance, has been one of the early adopters in this aspect.

Bells to paging systems

According to Ian Bridgewater, Director at TOA UK, the education sector has a number of uses for IP speakers that are clearly beyond the domain of security. There are several instances in a school’s daily functioning where mass announcements are required. IP speakers prove to be a good solution for this, as they can be integrated into the normal operations of a school.

“Currently security is the biggest market, however, there are growing demands especially in the hospital and school markets,” said Ian Bridgewater, Director at TOA UK. “IP allows flexibility of the system how it is used and can be reconfigured over hard-wired solutions. A growing trend in schools is for the class change messages to be changed on a weekly basis, with built-in time scheduling then this is possible.” Bob Mesnik, President of Kintronics agreed to this, adding that the most growth has been the addition of automated announcements in schools. The addition of school “bells” that announce the change of classes, provides increased value to the total paging system.

Music and announcements

Rex Lam,
Consultant, Guardian Forest Research
We have already seen how the retail industry has been one of the key adopters of IP speaker systems. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that many stores like to play background music to attract customers. Axis Communications, in its brochure for IP speakers, explains that a network audio system can support retail stores and hotels, for example, in creating the perfect ambiance background music. You benefit from pre-set volume and music choices as well as both central and remote control for easy management. And you can choose to combine background music with scheduled and live announcements for the best possible customer experience.

Rex Lam, Senior Consultant at Guardian Forest Security agrees that retail is one of the verticals that could benefit most from IP speakers, but adoption is slow due to a few factors. Many customers already have traditional speaker systems in place and are often not convinced an investment in IP is worth it. Hinting on a similar note, Mesnik also pointed out that he was not seeing any major growth in this vertical now. Nevertheless, Bridgewater further pointed out a factor that should be taken into consideration. “Retail applications where music is required and can be streamed directly to each IP speaker, but you must make sure that all speakers are synchronized, or the music will sound terrible,” he said.

Public address

Lam suggested that some of the other verticals that can make use of IP speakers include places where mass gatherings take place. In crowded stadiums, for instance, they can be used to make announcements for crowd control. In short, an IP speaker can address various requirements that a vertical may have, from paging someone in a specific area, scheduled announcements to start a day at schools, call for someone during an emergency in verticals like hospitals, or even just to play music.
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