Google made hardware to replace your office’s horrible video call system – The Verge

Google is trying to make video conferencing less awful by designing its own speaker-mic and other hardware that works with Google Calendar. It’s bundled together a touchscreen controller, a speaker-mic, a camera, and an Asus Chromebox that work in sync to let offices coordinate meetings.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen controller lets you join events scheduled on Google Calendar and look up meeting details. You can also pin or mute team members, control the camera, and add people to a call. The controller can be connected to a laptop via an HDMI cable and has a 1280 x 800 display.

Google designed the speaker-mic to reduce echo and background noise. The speaker has a 360-degree pickup with four cardioid mics and a 250-square-foot range. For meetings in larger rooms, you can daisy chain up to five speaker-mics together with a wire.

The camera shoots in 4K with a 120-degree field of view to capture a large group of people at a time. It’s built with machine learning so it can auto-crop and zoom in on video call participants.

Finally, the Asus Chromebox runs on ChromeOS and can automatically push updates to the controller, camera, and speaker-mic. It has an Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated hardware video accelerator. It also features remote device monitoring for IT admins.

Google also announced today that if you have G Suite Enterprise, you can now record and save meetings into Google Drive and host meetings with up to 50 participants.

All four tools are compatible with the Hangouts Meet video chat service the company launched back in March, as well as with the Jamboard, Google’s $5,000 digital whiteboard released in May. The bundle costs $1,999 and is available in twelve countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

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