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Turn Hangouts into business meetings with Google’s new hardware suite

Google Hangouts Meet hardware
Google Hangouts Meet is designed to transform the typical Hangout into a chat system for businesses and now the platform has the hardware to match. On Tuesday, October 31, Google announced the Hangouts Meet hardware, a set of tools for video chats for businesses, with a touchscreen controller, speaker mic, 4K camera and the Asus Chromebox.

Together, the system works as a way for businesses to allow video meetings without the low quality of a webcam but also without the complex set up of more advanced systems. Along with integration into Google Hangouts video chat, the system is also integrated with Google Calendar, with options to view the meeting or join a scheduled meeting with a tap on the touchscreen.  G Suite Enterprise customers can also save the recording to Google Drive.

Video is recorded through the Huddly Go, a 4K camera with a 120-degree angle that allows more meeting participants to fit in the field of view without crowding around each other. But besides the resolution and field of view, the Huddly Go uses machine learning to adapt to the number of people actually in that virtual meeting. Huddly said that the camera recognizes how many people are in the frame, then automatically adjusts the lighting and volume. That same software can also detect who is talking and use digital zoom and tilt to frame the speaker.

Huddly says that the camera’s wide-angle view, small design, and software coupled with an API program allowed for easy integration led to the camera’s inclusion on the hardware suite.

The camera is controlled through the touchscreen, along with options for presenting through a laptop using the HDMI port. Google designed the speaker mic with a focus on eliminating echoes and background noise. Up to five of the mics can be used with the system for larger meetings. An Asus Chromebox brings it all together, including automatic hardware updates.

The announcement also comes with new features for G Suite Enterprise, including meetings up to 50 people, more countries on the dial-in option and recording meetings to Google Drive.

“We are very excited about the new Hangouts Meet hardware, particularly the easy-to-use touchscreen,” Bradley Rhodes, an IT analyst at Woolworths Limited, said in a statement. “The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via the touch-to-record functionality which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively.”

The new hardware set retails for $1,999 for the entire suite. The Huddly Go camera also sells for $499 separately.

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