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What happens as the technology costs drop?

By Cathy Hutchison

The best news in technology design for 2014 is falling costs.

The lowered cost of large LED boards is making them a viable option in applications that previously would have gone with video projection or TV walls. With high brightness, contrast and operational advantages, there are a variety of products that provide high value. There are other cost advantages to LED boards. Less building square footage is required compared to rear projection systems and there can be lower long term maintenance costs because there is no need to replace projector lamps.

For lighting, LED fixtures as a whole are maturing. The LED source is able to be used in fixtures that were previously incandescent. While the initial price of the LED fixtures can be up to five times the cost of comparable incandescent fixtures, when factoring in their onboard color mixing and dimming capabilities as well as the cost savings for power consumption and maintenance, the LEDs become an attractive option financially.

In video surveillance, we’ve seen recent improvements in quality coupled with reductions in cost of IP video surveillance cameras. High-quality IP cameras used to be cost prohibitive for most projects and budget IP cameras had very poor image quality. Up until a few years ago, most projects were still using analog cameras other than those with large budgets and/or high camera counts. In the past few years though, the image quality of lower-cost IP cameras has improved significantly and the cost of high-end cameras has dropped. That combination has made IP video surveillance economically feasible for all but the lowest budget projects.

As the technology becomes more accessible, client expectations rise and new high-end products are developed for the market to set the stage for the next round of innovation. Yet the real question for clients is: when the costs drop, will you still think strategically about how you spend? We all get distracted by shiny toys–especially when they become affordable–but the best technology decisions are still made when the decision is based on the project goals rather than the price.

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