Author Topic: Google/Darpa/NSA Unleashes New Spybox for Office Video Conferencing  (Read 2099 times)

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Offline Bitz

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Inside Google offices across the globe, company engineers and other employees have long communicated over internet video-conferencing systems developed by the tech giant itself. Googlers call it the “VC” link — a video connection that runs to company meeting rooms as well as employee cubicles — and when collaborating with colleagues in other parts of the world, some engineers will keep it on all day long.

These systems were never available to the world at large, but on Thursday morning, inspired by its internal hardware and software tools, the tech giant unveiled a new video conferencing system that aims to make “VC” as ubiquitous outside the company as inside.

Dubbed Chromebox for meetings, the system is built around the Google Chromebox — a tiny PC that, like the increasingly popular Chromebook laptops, run the company’s browser-based Chrome operating system — and it plugs into a Google cloud service that lets you conference not only with people on other Chromeboxes but laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. “Today, we’re taking Chromeboxes and bringing them to meeting rooms,” said Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management for the Google’s Chrome hardware business, during an press event at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View.

The service is part of Google’s ever expanding array for products and services that serve the world’s businesses. The company is best known for its search engine and other consumer services, but it’s also pushing to reinvent the business world via the internet, challenging traditional players like Microsoft. The new video service is part of the company’s Google Apps suite of online business apps, which also include things like the Gmail email service and Google Docs, the online rival to Microsoft’s Office suite.

The company already offers video conferencing to the masses through its Google+ “hangouts,” but the new service is something different, a tool that aims to seamlessly connect as many as 15 people at once.

Sengupta tells WIRED that the new video conferencing system was developed, at least in part, by the same team that designed the company’s internal VC links. “It’s the same people that have been building our systems and are now bringing this to market,” he explained. “A number of our own video systems use this same technology stack.” It’s a common story at the company. Google ngineers will develop a tool for the company itself, but then the company will offer it to outside businesses and consumers. Gmail evolved in this way.

Selling for $999, the new system includes a high-definition camera as well as audio equipment, but you’ll need have to purchase a flat-display screen display separately. The accompanying cloud service is priced at $250 per year, per device. The entire package is available in the United States as of today, and it will reach other countries in the near future. Google is selling the system directly, but it can also be purchased through various resellers, including hardware maker Synnex and CDW.