Google Chromebox Designed for Office Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing box hints at an expansion of hardware, TV gear.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, holds up a newly introduced Chromebox during Google's annual developer conference in San Francisco on June 28, 2012.

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Google has unveiled a videoconferencing tool called "Chromebox for meetings" that will enable offices to use the company's video hangout chats and apps. The move reflects the tech giant's efforts to expand into hardware and possibly increase its focus on TV technology.

Google functions as an advertising company through its suite of applications on the Web and smartphones, but is increasing its hardware-making business with the design of Google Glass and its purchase of Nest, which designs WiFi-connected thermostats. Chromebox for meetings could reflect a move by Google to expand into more video hardware.

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Chromebox for meetings includes a remote, camera and microphone for conference rooms. The device also can be compatible with existing conferencing setups, said a blog post by Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management at Google. 

A version of the device is available now in the U.S. for $999. Chromebox for meetings also will be available in 2014 in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K. 

Sengupta said the new Chromebox will make meetings simpler by running Google’s suite of programs, and simplifies the setup and login processes that often occur at the start of meetings.

"Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones," Sengupta said. "Need to meet with a customer who doesn’t use Chromebox for meetings? That’s easy too – all they need is a Gmail account."