Why Audio Is So Important in the Age of COVID-19

In the age of COVID-19 – when it’s critically important that people follow social distancing guidelines and wear protective equipment – audio technology solutions are just as important as visual ones.

That’s leading to a heightened awareness of how people react to audio cues in a variety of environments, including retail, healthcare, transportation and dozens of other types of organizations, says Chris Wildfoerster, business development manager for audio solutions at Axis Communications.

For example, a person waiting in line at a campus bookstore might react more immediately to a public service announcement (PSA) about wearing a mask and social distancing than if that information were displayed visually.

When combined with sensors and a video-based analytics platform, PSAs can be triggered to remind people outside a store of social distancing guidelines when the line gets past a certain point.

According to Wildfoerster, it can be easy to overlook signage, but it’s hard to ignore audio.

“You can always close your eyes, but you can never close your ears,” he says.

With most teams unable to meet in person and schools shifting to a remote- or hybrid-learning strategy, videoconferencing has risen as a go-to tool to keep collaboration and workflow moving as well as it did prior to the pandemic.

However, what if no audio came with the video?

“If there were no audio technology solutions, there would be no conversation,” Wildfoerster says. “How many videoconferences have we been on and the pictures are coming through perfect, but the audio keeps dropping out? There’s no communication there, so there’s no meeting.”

In today’s world of pandemics, mass shootings and other emergencies, it’s important that all organizations are equipped to repeat critical instructions.

“You want to keep people informed as to what’s going on around them – especially if its COVID, an emergency, weather alert, active shooter or whatever it might be,” Wildfoerster says.

According to Wildfoerster, Axis is seeing a significant uptick in using networked video and audio together.

The company’s networked solutions use sensors and analytics to trigger video and audio together for things like occupancy and que management.

“If there are people standing in line, you can make sure they’re social distancing, or if the line gets too long, you can notify the attendants of the store to open another register or terminal,” Wildfoerster says.

For healthcare – an industry currently scrambling to catch up to the pandemic – networked audio technology solutions can help nurses and clinical staff respond to patient needs.

“We have an analytic that measures the ambient noise in a room and if a certain pattern of noise is recognized, you can play a message in that room or notify the nursing staff that something’s going on there,” Wildfoerster says.

The same technology can be used in aggression detection, in which a camera is equipped with a microphone that can trigger a response if a certain frequency is met. A camera would then focus on that specific location.


This article originally ran in CS sister publication Commercial Integrator and has been edited. Zachary Comeau is CI’s web editor.

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