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Google's video conferencing kit gets an AI camera and display

Chromebox for meetings now comes packaged with upgraded hardware.
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Google has been trying to get a seat in your board room this year, courtesy of its tools and products for meetings. In March, it pivoted its Hangouts app to businesses, following it up with a $5,000 interactive display with collaborative cloud features. Not content with the two-punch software and hardware combo, the big G is now taking another stab at video conferencing. Remember the Chromebox for meetings bundle the company dropped in 2014? Well, it's back, courtesy of some rebranding and a bunch of upgraded products.

Google's new Hangouts Meet kit essentially packages the ASUS Chromebox hub, a 4K-sensor camera (with added AI wizardry), a mic and a touchscreen display. It's the type of thing the search giant rolls out every 18 to 24 months.

But, the new additions are notable. This time round, the $2,000 bundle includes some useful G Suite enterprise edition integrations. For example, you can use the display to join scheduled events from Calendar or view meeting details with a tap. It also puts you in charge of business huddles: You can use it to mute team members, control the camera, and record conferences to Google Drive.

Speaking of the camera, it comes with a 120-degree field of view that can capture more faces, even in tight meeting rooms. As Google is prone to doing nowadays, it's also fitted the snapper with its machine learning tech, allowing it to detect people, and auto-crop and zoom to better frame them.

To coincide with the bundle, Google is also updating its Hangouts Meet app for businesses. Now you can host meetings with up to 50 participants, up from 30 at launch. And, you don't need the hardware kit to record meetings to Google Drive. Finally, there's the option to call in to conferences from more than a dozen regions, with Meet auto-updating your dial-in listing to a local phone number.

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