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With TechCrunch, Google is launching a new piece of hardware for meeting rooms with AI

Google today announced the Google Meet Series One, a new video conferencing hardware suite for meeting rooms. The Series One was developed in collaboration with Lenovo and uses high-end cameras and microphones. Thanks to the use of Google’s own Coral M.2 accelerator modules with the company’s Edge TPUs, these are then combined with Google’s AI smarts.

Previous Google Meet hardware efforts by companies like ASUS, Acer, and Logitech have generally been based on a Chromebox. This new initiative essentially uses a specially developed computer system and combines it with an almost Google Nest-like screen the size of a tablet, a soundbar with eight integrated microphones, additional microphone pods and one of two cameras.

Credit: Google

The cameras are perhaps the most interesting option here. The Smart Camera XL has a 20.3 megapixel sensor and 4.3x optical zoom. Thanks to these specifications, it can be used as a digital PTZ camera (pan, tilt, zoom). This allows the system to always automatically zoom in to frame everyone in the room, and when the next person joins it can zoom and pan as needed to make sure everyone is still visible.

The normal smart camera can do most of it, but it doesn’t have the optical zoom, which makes it a better solution for smaller rooms. Google partnered with Huddly to develop this camera system (and the two companies have also worked together on previous Meet hardware projects).

But Google also put a lot of effort into the audio system. With its eight beam-shaping microphones built into the soundbar and advanced noise-canceling techniques executed on Google’s AI chips, the system should be able to filter out most distractions. Businesses can add additional soundbars that only have speakers and microphones with no AI chips to cover even larger rooms. These additional units only have the speakers and microphones without the additional AI hardware, as all processing has to be done centrally.

Credit: Google

A nice touch is that the team has also simplified the installation of these systems thanks to Power-over-Ethernet. That should make installing one of these systems in a conference room pretty easy.

Since this is Google, it’s probably no surprise that you can also use the Google Assistant on this system to control space hands-free (something that may be more important today than ever).

The smallest room kit with the basic smart camera but without the tablet-style meeting controller and microphone pod, will retail for $ 2,699. For $ 2,999, you get a full set that includes a standard camera, soundbar, microphone pod, and controller. If you have a very large room, you can go for the $ 3,999 version with the additional soundbar, two microphone pods, and the Smart Camera XL.

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