Audio Visual Design Guidelines

Control Systems

255 views November 22, 2018 November 19, 2019 aetm 1

This chapter covers the primary components, ICT architecture considerations, and best practices for planning, designing, and deploying control systems for integrated AV systems.

A control system consists of three key components:

  • User Interface is the method of receiving input from, or representing the system status to the user
  • Control Processor would traditionally have been a piece of intermediary hardware bringing together disparate third-party controllable devices as a cohesive integrated whole. This function can now be performed by either hardware or software, and can be server-based.
  • Asset Management is the method of reporting and analytics for maintenance and support purposes

A control system is a network of connected devices and computers communicating over a variety of control interfaces and communication protocols. Automation of the connected devices is managed by a hardware or software processor running control code. The control processor communicates with equipment associated with the AV system and building services by transmitting and receiving commands with third-party controllable devices.

Control communications may be established through a variety of signal types and methods, and the control system must feature the correct hardware or software interface to communicate with any given device. For instance, if a device only features an RS232 port for third-party control, the control system must also feature an RS232 port.

However, with modern server or cloud-based control systems, it is possible to run all the communications over the network using standard managed switching, provided all the devices have either IP control or a device to convert IP control to the correct protocol for the device (eg. RS232). 

The following diagram represents the traditional hardware based approach. In a software based system, all devices would connect to the ‘Control Processor’ via IP.


Scope of this Section

This chapter focuses on control systems as it relates to commercial AV integrated technology.

Other specialised control systems such as show control (Midi or SMPTE), lighting (DMX), and industrial mechanised automation are outside the scope of this document. However, ultimately it is possible to integrate any system with the AV control system, where this makes sense.

Reference will be made to integrations with Building Management Systems (BMS) and ICT enterprise solutions as a catalyst for further consideration of what is possible to achieve within an organisation’s systems architecture.


Glossary of Terms

Term Definition
API A software program through which software may interact with an AV system component, third-party software, or sub-system.
AV Audiovisual (AV) encompasses the integrated devices for managing the routing, processing, and presentation of video and audio content. It may also include associated AV network data streams, user control interfaces, and automation processes.
AV System A multimedia presentation system for video and audio presentations
BMS Building Management System (BMS) also known as Building Automation System (BAS) is a control system for automating and monitoring a building mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power, fire, and security systems
Control System A control system is a collection of hardware and software components that work together in a cohesive manner to perform a task.
Control Processor A computer that processes that runs control processor software
Control Processor Software Custom back-end software running on a control processor
Control Interface The communication interface port between two AV system components for the transmission of control signals (RS232, IR, Ethernet IP,  et al). 
Enterprise-grade Products designed to integrate into an ICT infrastructure with high compatibility with ICT standards, minimal complexity, and remote management support
GUI Graphical User Interface (GUI) is an interactive user interface presented on an LCD or LED display. Typically touch-enabled and commonly referred to as a “Touch Panel”
IR Infrared. In AV systems, IR is typically used for one-way control and automation of third-party controllable devices
IP Address An Internet Protocol Address (IP Address) is used for network communication between computer devices. The IP address allows a device to be identified on the network
LAN Local Area Network (LAN) is a network of interconnected computers within a building or department
Middleware Back-end software to unify disparate system components to function as a cohesive whole.
Module Similar to an Application Programming Interface, a module is a software program for simplifying control processor programming required to communicated with a third-party controllable device
Relay Contact closure relay is a mechanical switch that activates to complete an electrical circuit which sends a signal to, and causes a third-party controllable device to perform an action in response



A telecommunications standard for serial communication and data transmission. In AV systems, typically used for point-to-point two-way control and automation of third-party controllable devices
TCP/IP A suite of communications protocols to connect computers on the internet and is the standard for transmitting data over networks.
Third-Party Controllable Device Equipment that features a control interface for receiving and processing control commands and performing the corresponding action
Turing Complete A system capable of solving any computational problem. Such systems are capable of arithmetic (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, et al), logic (if, else conditional statements), and managing data (store, retrieve, erase)
User Input An interaction with the control system via the user interface initiated by the end user
User Interface The method by which the user may tell the control system what to do, and if applicable receive indications of the control system status.
VLAN Virtual Local Area Network is a logical partition of a physical LAN. Multiple computers may be physically connected to the same network switch, but may be part of various isolated VLANs. Assigning groups of computers to VLANs allows for compartmentalisation and segregation of network traffic and may also improve network security



Below is a list of stakeholders commonly involved in the planning, deployment, and maintenance of a control system solution:

  • AV and ICT Managers (design of integrated technology)
  • End Users (functionality, features, and user experience)

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