Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 18 2014

Google Gets In The Virtual Meeting Game

By Jennifer Kingen Kush

You probably use Google everyday to conduct research, send emails or manage your calendar. Now, the search engine giant is hoping you’ll count on it for another important task: hosting meetings. Google Chromebox is a new tool that combines Google Hangouts and Google Apps for the ability to host and participate in video conferences. The start-up kit includes a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. The initial cost is $999 with a $250 recurring annual management fee.

The technology is designed to eliminate the typical hassles like dial-in codes and PINs that can make connecting virtually more challenging. Users can log-in to the meeting environment via a wide range of ways including their Gmail account or using a Google Hangout from a PC, Chromebook or Android phone. Users can easily share documents via their screens, and all faces are displayed at the bottom of the screen.

SEE ALSO: How This Huge Corporation Runs Its Virtual Meetings

Creating A More Collaborative Team

Some meeting professionals might worry that Google will position itself to eliminate the need for face-to-face conferences, but we can lay those fears to rest. It’s important to note that Chromebox is built to facilitate small internal collaboration rather than replace the need for hundreds of attendees to come together. If you’ve ever used Apple’s FaceTime, Google’s existing Hangouts or Microsoft’s Skype, this is similar. However, it’s designed to increase the number of participants. The technology allows up to 15 locations to join the video meeting. Currently, Skype and Hangouts maximum number is 10.

What The Tool Can Do For Your Organization

The technology can certainly make the planning process more effective. If your program includes a number of panel discussions, Chromebox can provide easy introductions for all the voices well before they arrive on-site.

For associations, the ability to remotely connect 15 video screens may even be able to facilitate more frequent and more cost-effective face-to-face discussions among Board members, volunteer committees or chapter leaders. Rather than one annual gathering followed countless emails, Chromebox provides a quick opportunity to schedule occasional one-hour brainstorming sessions regardless of location. It’s another example of how virtual tools can reinforce face-to-face relationships during the time between in-person meetings.

SEE ALSO: How Google Is Reshaping The Hotel Industry

What do you think of the technology? Could you use it within your organization? Is it worth the $999 price tag? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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