As Google unveiled its first videoconferencing hardware on Thursday, it also introduced software with partner Vidyo that can bring together employees in video meeting rooms and users of Google+ Hangouts.
The software, called VidyoH2O for Google+ Hangouts, is the first product to come out of a long-term partnership between Google and Vidyo aimed at improving the quality of Web browser-based video meetings. It will be available March 31, priced at US$99 per month for on-premises use or $149 per month as a cloud-based hosted service.
VidyoH2O acts as a bridge between Google+ Hangouts and legacy collaboration platforms, including videoconferencing room systems from Cisco Systems, Polycom, Avaya, Logitech Lifesize and Vidyo as well as voice PBX (private branch exchange) systems. The result is that enterprise employees can use Hangouts to join meetings with colleagues or outside partners who are on room systems or office phones.
There are more tools than ever for doing video chats on the Web and mobile devices, but the big, expensive, dedicated systems that once were the only options are still installed in many enterprises. Vidyo and Google, like some other vendors, want to bring together as many platforms as possible so more potential contributors can get in on meetings. Last month, Logitech announced the ConferenceCam CC3000e, a hardware system that can be used with popular collaboration software from vendors including Microsoft, Cisco and Vidyo.
Google+ Hangouts, the group video chatting feature of Google's social network, runs on WebRTC, an emerging platform designed to make video and audio conferences possible in a browser without plug-ins. VidyoH2O acts as a bridge between Google's offering and traditional collaboration systems that use standard H.323, H.264 and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) technologies.
The Chromebox video meeting system Google introduced on Thursday consists of a Chromebox compact PC, an 1080p camera module, a combination speaker/microphone and a radio-frequency remote, and is intended for videoconferences in small "huddle rooms" in an office. It has a Hangouts-style interface and is designed to work with Google software such as Google Calendar, Hangouts and Gmail. The product, priced at $999, is one of the meeting systems that could be linked together through VidyoH2O, said Ofer Shapiro, co-founder and CEO of Vidyo.