Google takes on Zoom with launch of Meet hardware

The Lenovo-made Series One meeting room kits will become available in November

Google has unveiled Google Meet hardware as it aims to facilitate video conferencing for employees working in combined remote and in-person work environments.

The Series One meeting room kits were created in partnership with Lenovo and feature an array of useful tools that make it easier for G Suite users to collaborate with co-workers, whether they are at home or in the office.

The new devices use artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver enhanced audio and video clarity, and users can join a meeting with the hands-free Google Assistant control by saying “Hey Google, join my meeting".

Google’s multi-channel noise cancellation and voice amplification technology TrueVoice aims to minimise distracting sounds, such as typing on a keyboard or unwanted background noises. 

The Coral M.2 accelerator modules with Google Edge TPUs, which are used in Google’s data centres, utilise AI-powered audio and video processing while also preserving privacy. This allows Series One hardware to make the most of future machine learning innovations, while maintaining high performance and reliability for AV workloads.

Each kit includes a true 4K smart camera which also features digital PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) effects.

According to TJ Varghese, group product manager of Google Meet hardware, the kits will “complement any meeting space”.

“The new Series One room kits were designed specifically with customers and administrators in mind,” he said. “The devices easily blend into any room and come in two color models, Charcoal and Chalk. Rounded corners, quality fabric and Google’s signature industrial design make Series One a welcome addition to any architectural style.”

Varghese also described the installation and management of the kits as “effortless”.

“The Compute System in Series One is purpose-built for Meet on Chrome OS, making it easy to install and keep up to date. Everything is securely managed through the Google Admin console, including device setup, status checks, and minor issue resolution without ever having to visit the room,” he said.

The kits can also be expanded by adding more mic pods and audio bars for enhanced stereo sound, and users can also audio-calibrate the system audio settings to suit different room sizes and surfaces.

Google’s Series One comes in three configurations:

  • Small Room Kit, which includes the compute device, 12MP Camera, Speaker Bar with integrated mics and a remote controller
  • Medium Room: Compute device, 12MP Camera, Speaker Bar, one Mic Pod, and a 10.1in touchscreen controller
  • Large Room Kit consists of: Compute device, 20.3MP Camera with zoom, two Speaker Bars, two Mic Pods and a 10.1in touchscreen controller. 

All configurations are expected to become available in November 2020, with prices ranging from $2,699 to $3,999 depending on the size of the kit. UK pricing is yet to be announced.

The launch follows similar releases from Google’s video conferencing rivals. In July, Zoom announced DTEN ME, the first-ever Zoom for Home device created in partnership with office-tools provider DTEN.

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