Intel is pushing the benefits of its Unite technology for cost-effective collaboration, enabling employees to easily set up a meeting where they can share screens and other content using a variety of endpoint devices and existing meeting room resources.
Unite was announced by Intel at the Computex show in Taiwan last month, and is designed to drive compute power into the conference room to enable new capabilities, as well as allowing businesses to make use of existing resources such as projectors and screens that they may already have installed.
The technology comprises Unite software that the customer purchases ready installed on a mini PC based on Intel's Core vPro platform. This essentially acts as the central hub for meetings, enabling users to view content or share their own screen via wireless connectivity, and even include colleagues connecting remotely via the internet.
Intel said that Unite is designed to build on the technologies for workplace transformation introduced in the latest generation of the Core vPro platform in January.
Chad Constant, director of marketing for Intel's business client platforms, said that it is designed to offer a cost-effective solution for collaboration that lets customers reuse assets, rather than being a rival for technologies such as Microsoft's Surface Hub hardware coming later this year.
"If you already have a projector or a big screen in a meeting room and you need a low-cost collaboration solution, this is for you. If you are an organisation building out a new meeting room, you will be more likely to install something like Surface Hub," he said.
Intel has in fact been working with Microsoft to make Unite work with Lync and Surface Hub, as well as other collaboration technologies from the likes of Polycom, he added. Intel has also deployed the technology internally in over 200 meeting rooms.
Unite has been made easy to use, according to Intel. Workers just need to point their web browser at a page hosted by the system to download and install a small software client. Once installed, they just need to key in a unique PIN to join the meeting. The entire process takes just moments, the firm said.
The client software currently supports Windows and Mac OS laptops, and versions for Android, Chrome OS and Apple iOS devices are in the pipeline. Using the client, up to four users can share their screen simultaneously on the main display, and mark up the content using the mouse or touch screen of their own device.
However, Intel conceded that the frame rate and supported screen resolutions are limited in the first release. An update due within a year will add full HD video support, the firm said.
Intel said that putting compute power into the conference room also enables the IT department to manage and monitor the hardware, and link it in with other systems such as the meeting room lighting.
"The feedback we get from business customers is that they want compute in the conference room to monitor the temperature, whether the display is working, and to track how the equipment is being used," Constant said.
Unite is currently available with the HP EliteDesk 800 Mini PC, but is expected to be offered on mini PCs from other vendors such as Fujitsu, Dell, Lenovo and Asus later this year.
Intel declined to detail exactly how much the Unite host software costs, but indicated that it would not substantially increase the price of the system on which it is installed. There is no extra charge for the endpoint client software, no matter how many times it is deployed, Intel said.
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