Google Enters the Videoconferencing Market With Hardware Kit

Google has had Hangouts — a software-based SORT-OF videoconferencing suite for years. But hardly anyone uses it. But now the company’s launched a hardware kit hardware including an ASUS Chromebox, USB camera (10.1” diagonal, IPS, 16:10, 1280×800 resolution), controller, speaker and mic set, known as the Speakermic. The Speakermic, custom designed and built by Google, claims to intelligently reduces echoes and actively manages background noise to deliver rich, immersive, 360˚ sound. The whole hardware kit is called the Hangouts Meet Kit.

Google told rAVe that the camera is 4K and designed for huddle rooms. It automatically zooms and crops based on the number of people in the room. The camera has a 120-degree field of view and both it and the Speakermic are designed for rooms of up to 250 square feet. For customers with larger conference rooms, you can daisy chain up to five Speakermics together.

It also has a touch-screen control system integrated into it. It’s purpose-built for Google Hangouts and the kit, but can also control the room and Nest gear too.

It seems as though Google is simultaneously targeting ZOOM Rooms and Skype with a hybrid-hardware approach more like those from Polycom and Cisco. The $2,000 kit is here.