IEC TC work sustains media expansion harmonisation through collaboration with other relevant bodies

Issue 36 – March 2012

The audio-visual and multimedia sectors contain some of the world's most dynamic and productive industries. They are not limited to manufacturing systems and products for professionals and consumers, but also include an entire global and highly valuable content production chain in the entertainment, broadcasting, information and communications technology, and telecommunication domains.

Expansion of both equipment and content sectors is made possible in no small measure by the work of several International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) technical committees (TCs), in particular TC 100, 'audio, video, and multimedia systems and equipment'.

Huge market – complex standardisation

Nearly every individual in the world has access to some kind of audio-visual (AV) device. In addition, an ever larger number of households possess multimedia systems. Multimedia is the integration of any form of audio, video, graphics, data, and telecommunication. This integration includes the production, storage, processing, transmission, display, and reproduction of such information, and requires special equipment.

According to market estimates from GfK Boutique Research and the US Consumer Electronics Association, global sales of consumer electronics goods will exceed USD $1,000 billion for the first time ever in 2012, up 5% on 2011. Most of the systems and equipment in these categories rely on international Standards prepared by TC 100.

Given the broad range of equipment and systems produced for and used in the audio, video and multimedia sectors, many organisations besides the IEC, such as the International Telecommunication Union or International Organization for Standardization are also developing Standards for these. TC 100 maintains an extensive network of liaisons at different levels with many of these organisations, to avoid duplication with existing Standards.

Flexible structure, quicker process

The audio, video, and multimedia markets are fast-moving environments with manufacturers constantly rolling out new products and consumers renewing their equipment or acquiring devices such as tablets, e-book readers, or so-called smart phones, to access content. A lengthy standardisation process would hold up the production and adoption of new equipment. TC 100 has adopted a flexible organisation structure and effective working style to speed up approval.

Heavy workload

The constantly expanding range of applications for AV and multimedia systems and the fast-changing pace of the industry mean that TC 100, already one of the most prolific IEC TCs, has a full agenda. Its standardisation work for AV and multimedia systems implies being both a user and customer of Standards from other TCs and Subcommittees, such as TC 110, 'Electronic display devices', or TC 86, 'Fibre optics', to name just two.

As of February 2012, TC 100 had released 395 publications and had 48 active projects under way.

Summarised from the International Electrotechnical Commission's e-tech, January/February 2012.

Related Touchstone articles

Published in business and ICT.