Never mind that you can run Meet on any old computer, Google unveils specialised hardware for vid-chat plat

Ad giant takes aim at the meeting room – even though nobody's there

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Keen to remind everyone that Google Meet is still a thing in a world seemingly obsessed with Zoom, the Chocolate Factory has announced hardware for anyone trying to run its video conferencing service.

The search 'n' ads giant has buddied up with Lenovo for its latest take on workspace hardware with the Google Meet Series One.

Looking for all the world like a jumped-up webcam (the sort that suddenly became unavailable in March), Series One kit features a regular or extra-large 4K camera. The Smart Camera XL sports 20.3 megapixels and a 4.3x zoom, meaning that no meeting room detail or stray nasal hair will go unnoticed by Google's "AI-powered audio and video processing".

The latter, Google insists, also preserves privacy so one can be confident that the discussions had online won't suddenly spawn targeted ads.

The Smart Audio Bar has eight beam-forming microphones, with the largest of the three options able to process up to 44 channels simultaneously. Sounds such as snacking or frantic keyboard tapping should be filtered out by proprietary noise cancellation technology, although we maintain there should be a special circle of hell reserved for those who insist on masticating into the mic.

A compute brick, replete with an Intel i7 and Google Edge TPUs, is also included as well as a touch control display. The type and quantity of Series One tech hinges on room size: small, medium, or large.

Google's gear is not yet available, and it is dipping its toe into a busy market. Microsoft has a wide variety of devices from a multitude of vendors aimed at making the Teams experience more bearable in meeting rooms and remotely, from webcams and speakerphones through to its elaborate whiteboard, Surface Hub 2.

Also missing from all the excited spurtings was a reference to Jamboard, Google's take on collaboration. We asked Google where the £4,000 G Suite-enabled screen fitted into the Series One world and will update should an explanation be forthcoming.

Will the impending release of Series One go some way to prop up the appeal of Google Meet, along with its other efforts, such as plugging the platform into its Gmail service?

Remote working and distributed teams appear to be here for the long haul but whether businesses want to pay for Lenovo-made Google hardware is less clear. Some may be receptive to Google's take on not just the future, but the all-too-present workspace. Others will balk at the purchase. ®

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