Google has unveiled a video conferencing suite of tools for businesses, including hardware built by Asus, called Chromebox for meetings, as it continues to push its offerings in the enterprise market.
The launch sees Google entering the video conferencing space by bringing numerous enterprise features to its Hangouts tool, and offering the necessary hardware for firms to host video meetings for up to 15 people.
On the hardware side, the kit comes with a Chromebox from Asus that connects to the screen used to host the video calls and is powered by an Intel i7 Core processor. There is also a seperate HD 1080p camera, audio base unit and remote control, although the manufacturer of these kits was not confirmed.
Google also confirmed HP and Dell would release Chromebox hardware in the future.
Google touted a number of features within the software as ideal for business use, including Google Calendar integration to make it easier to arrange meetings and security controls, including encrypting all data sent over the service.
It will launch in the US for around $1,000, with wider rollout in the UK and beyond planned for a few months time, although no set date was given. The price includes one year of support and maintenance, which then costs $250 per year.
Google Enterprise manager for the UK Mark van der Linden said the tool would help “democratise” the use of video conferencing tools by helping firms turn any room in their building into a fully functioning video conference location.
“People are used to using video tools at home all the time, but not in the office, where it is seen as complicated and expensive, while more affordable solutions lacked quality,” he said at an event attended by V3.
“We’ve addressed that with HD quality video and audio, at an available price point.”
Google said customers including Woolworths, Eventbrite and Premier Foods have already been using the tool.
The tool integrates with some third-party video conferencing tools, from Uber Conference and Vidyo, but support for popular tools such as Skype or Cisco TelePresence is not offered as yet.
Google will no doubt be hoping – given that most people have some interaction with its services such as, Gmail, Google+ or YouTube – that it will be straightforward enough for people to access a Chromebox for meetings Hangout.
The push by Google to turn its Hangouts service into a more fully fledged enterprise service sees the firm continuing to encroach on Microsoft, which is pushing Skype more into the enterprise, as well as other vendors such as Cisco and Logitech.
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