As the warm days of summer come to an end, a new season is upon us…football season.

Regardless of how much you love or hate the game, the impact that televised football has on our society is undeniable.  Live sporting events have arguably been the greatest driving force for widespread acceptance of and demand for high definition broadcasting.  Once people see a referee’s blown call in slow-motion, super-sharp resolution, there is no going back.  Couple that with the dramatically decreasing price for large flat panel displays and we have a new digital standard for the TV watching experience.

Long gone are the days of watching Lawrence Welk on a console tube television in a parlor room as entertainment in a modern senior living community.   Future residents will expect the clarity and large screen size they have at home.  This demand for a digital signal may cause some headaches for existing operations.  It also offers a different set of choices for new construction in order to ensure a cost effective implementation.  A few stumbling blocks to overcome are new wiring methods as well as the limitations of transmitting the digital signals throughout large buildings and to multiple display locations. 

Today, the TV is more than just a device to be watched.  As we connect to the internet, new types of information may be brought to the screen and a new level of interactivity and connectivity is part of the experience.    

Community operators are now addressing the following digital expectations:

  • Video quality – High definition is becoming a must have, especially on large screens where a standard definition picture may look blurry.  This is a key driver of cabling method choices as digital signals are much more fickle than analog.
  • Sound quality – Center channel voice level may be increased and surround channel background music reduced to make watching more comfortable.
  • Internet connectivity – Current news and weather feeds may allow seniors to stay in touch with the world around them.  Shopping opportunities minimize travel needs.
  • Interactive experience – Communication with distant family members can be done with web cameras to maintain a connection to loved ones.
  • Source options – Physical media (DVDs) may soon be replaced with streaming content as is already occurring in some single family households. Wired/wireless internet provides access to movies, music and information. 

We have tried to future-proof or build some flexibility into systems in the past.  Bob Angeli of Entertainment Concept Services has been a systems integrator for over thirty years and sees changes in technology are happening even more rapidly.  “In the 1990’s we thought running an extra coaxial cable to a TV was going to provide that extra video capacity in the future, but we didn’t see the internet coming.  Now it makes sense to run an extra CAT-5e cable to each location.”

According to Angeli, the only reason we haven’t seen an even greater adoption of downloadable or streaming content is due to the aging infrastructure of phone and cable companies.  As they upgrade old copper lines to fiber optic cable, more content will be possible.  Public demand and expectations are forcing telecom and cable companies to evolve.  Internet connectivity is becoming commonplace in our society to keep us informed, entertained and in touch with friends and family.  There may be a delay before the average senior population makes those same demands, but there is no denying that all demographics are becoming more tech savvy. 

As the weekend approaches, I look forward to watching my favorite team march down the field, listening to the crowd…all from the comfort of home in front of a big screen.   Scores and updates are coming in to me as well.  I may even want to video chat with my distant family member who insists on cheering for the opposing team.  Technology and sports have combined to bring people together and make us feel like part of a greater society group.  Each drives the other to continually improve the fan/user entertainment experience.  With careful planning and minimal investment, that experience can be provided throughout your community.