Google launches Chromebox for Meetings in Australia

Google has launched its Chromebox for Meetings enterprise video conferencing product in Australia, with the platform able to accommodate over 100 meeting participants at once.

Google today announced the Australian launch of its Chromebox for Meetings enterprise video conferencing product, with the platform able to accommodate over 100 meeting participants simultaneously.

The company first unveiled Chromebox for meetings at its Mountain View headquarters in California during February, saying that it would be available — following the US rollout — in several other markets, including Australia, later in the year.

The package comprises the ASUS Chromebox unit, along with a full HD camera featuring a Carl Zeiss autofocus lens, a dual omni-directional microphone/speaker, and a remote control sporting a QWERTY keyboard with a nano-sized USB adapter.

The system, which piggybacks off the Google+ Hangouts platform, has the potential to accommodate over 100 online meeting participants at once, according to the managing director of Google Enterprise in Australia and New Zealand, Kevin Ackhurst.

"You can have 15 rooms with six or eight people in them at once," Ackhurst told ZDNet. "We think it works best for six to eight people in the room, and if you combine that with the 15 streams, that's about between 90 and 120 people at once." 

When the Chromebox for meetings was first announced in February, Google said the system would support up to 15 participants at a time.

According to Ackhurst, the system runs out of Google's global datacentre footprint, which currently does not include Australia. However, Ackhurst added that although the service is not run out of any local datacentres, Australian users will not be impacted in terms of latency.

"The service is hosted within our own datacentres," said Ackhurst. "The interesting thing about the bandwidth issue is that the way in which this service works — it actively adapts to the quality of the network it's working on.

"All of our services are managed in such a way that the experience you have with them here in Australia is a great experience. We work together with partners like ISPs and telecommunications companies to enhance the experience you have locally," he said.

The system is designed to drop video to a lower definition if there is not enough bandwidth available for full HD. Additionally, Chromebox for meetings is also designed to automatically mute those in a meeting not actively speaking, which cuts down on data usage for sound.

The offering, aimed at the enterprise end of the market, sells at AU$1450 in Australia, which includes access to the service and ten Google Apps licences. There is also an ongoing annual fee, allowing access to continuing support and service.

While Google's Chromebox for Meetings is clearly designed to run circles around most consumer-targeted video chat services such as Skype, it is being rolled out into a market which has already seen some players offering video conferencing tools claiming a similar user capacity.

Just last week, cloud-based video conferencing platform, Blue Jeans Network, announced that it had upped its capacity from 25 meeting participants in a single meeting to up to 100 people at one time.

Online conferencing platform, Fast Viewer, also claims that up to 100 people can meet in a video conference, with the facility for eight people to transmit their video image at the same time, while online conferencing platform, Fuze, supports up to 12 HD video conferencing streams and up to 250 audio participants at one time.