Polycom is adding another capability to its room-based video conferencing solution, enabling participants to better leverage the whiteboards that are common in conference rooms.
Polycom's UC Board, announced Oct. 27, is integrated with the company's RealPresence Room HDX offerings, enabling users to write on a whiteboard in one room and have participants in other locations see what is being written.
According to Polycom officials, during meetings, some people will get out of their seats and start writing on a whiteboard. In a video conference scenario, there was no easy way for people in other locations to easily see what was being written, short of moving the camera to more closely see the whiteboard or to take a photo of it and project it to the other participants. Having to do this hampers the collaborative feel of a meeting, they said.
With the UC Board, what's being written in one room on a whiteboard will appear on the screen of other participants.
"The Polycom UC Board is the first integrated video collaboration solution to make sharing whiteboard content as easy as picking up a pen," Sudhakar Ramakrishna, executive vice president and general manager of UC solutions and chief development officer at Polycom, said in a statement. "That's great news for organizations of all kinds looking to bring remote employees and customers in a sales presentation, brainstorm, planning meeting, or training class with clear access to all the visual content being presented and discussed."
The UC Board is the latest innovation from Polycom in the hotly contested video collaboration space, which includes not only Cisco Systems but also such players as Logitech's LifeSize Communications business, Radvision and Vidyo. It's a market that research firm Infonetics Research says will see double-digit growth at least through 2015, and one that Cisco is the leader with 52 percent revenue share, followed by Polycom at 25 percent, according to Wainhouse Research.
Polycom has been aggressive in building out its capabilities, including launching an ambitious software strategy and bringing its video collaboration capabilities to Apple's iPads and Android-based tablets. In addition, Polycom this month bought video collaboration software maker ViVu.
Its rivals also are extending their portfolios, including expanding their technologies onto mobile devices. Cisco on Oct. 26 rolled out a number of new additions to its TelePresence line to grow the reach of the solutions to SMBs, which in the past have shied away from the vendor's immersive video collaboration products due to price or the belief that it was a closed environment.
According to Polycom officials, the UC Board leverages a wireless stylus and receiver to enable meeting members to write on a whiteboard in one location that remote participants can view on their screens. A compact infrared sensor is attached to a whiteboard and stylus, and it's plugged into the Polycom video communications system via a USB connection. As users write on the blackboard, the image is streamed to other participants. It works with any standards-based system, including tablets, according to the company.
Polycom officials said they see multiple applications of the technology, from doctors working with patients who are in another location to remote students doing class work.
The UC Board is available immediately, starting at $1,999.