Google announces Hangouts Meet hardware kit

Partnering G Suite's new hardware components with Hangouts Meet software will make video conference meetings 'more productive', Google said.
Written by Jonathan Chadwick, Contributor

Hangouts Meet hardware kit

(Image: G Suite)

Google's G Suite has unveiled its Hangouts Meet hardware kit, a set of four components that claims to enable high-quality video conference meetings of any size.

The kit, which works with Hangouts Meet video-conferencing software, includes a touchscreen controller, speakermic, 4K sensor camera, and Asus Chromebox.

With the touchscreen controller, users can join scheduled events from Google Calendar with a tap; pin and mute team members; control the camera; and add participants with the dial-a-phone feature.

The speakermic, meanwhile, eliminates echo and background noise for a clearer audio. Up to five of the speakermics can be linked with a single wire, providing coverage for larger rooms, the company said.

The 4K sensor camera has a 120-degree view and includes machine-learning capabilities to detect and automatically crop and zoom participants; while the Chrome OS-powered Asus Chromebox automatically pushes updates to other kit components.

"We're focused on building tools that help you bring great ideas to life," Katie Roberts-Hoffman, product manager at G Suite, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. "We know meetings are the main entry point for teams to share and shape ideas into action.

"Combined with Calendar and Drive, these tools extend collaboration beyond four walls and transform how we work -- so every team member has a voice, no matter location."

IT analyst for End User Computing at Woolworths Australia Bradley Rhodes said the new offering will improve operations for the company.

"The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms," he said. "We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via touch-to-record functionality, which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively."

Also on Tuesday, Google announced updates to Meet, including the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive, hold meetings with up to 50 participants, as well as extending the dial-in feature to additional markets.

Google split Hangouts into Meet and Chat earlier this year, replacing Google Talk in the process. Meet, which is fully integrated with G Suite, covers Hangouts' video-conferencing features, enabling users to join meetings directly from a Calendar invite and share video meetings via a single link.

Chats, meanwhile, is a dedicated messaging app for teams -- basically, Google's take on Slack.

G Suite also launched the Jamboard connected whiteboard earlier this year as a reply to Microsoft's Surface Hub.

Google previously stressed that Hangouts in future would be developed for business users with a focus on group collaboration and enterprise productivity.


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