Logitech, a longtime vendor of consumer tech products, made its first foray into the corporate side in 2009 with its $405 million acquisition of video conferencing company LifeSize Communications, a move that brought it into direct competition with the likes of Cisco Systems and Polycom.
Since that time, as the LifeSize unit has expanded its capabilities, Logitech itself has stayed true to its consumer nature, selling everything from mice to keyboards to laptop accessories. However, thats changing. At the Enterprise Connect show in Orlando, Fla., March 26, Logitech officials will unveil the Logitech-branded BCC950 ConferenceCam, a combination high-definition video and audio device designed to enable small groups of people to collaborate in such settings as meeting rooms and closed offices.
This is the first in a line of products designed and developed by Logitech for the business market, Eric Kintz, vice president and general manager of the Logitech for Business group, told eWEEK.
Kintz and Ziva Nissan, senior product manager of video products, said the BCC950 ConferenceCam filled a gap in the video collaboration space, where the norm is either large telepresence systems set up in conference rooms for large numbers of people or video conferencing capabilities for individuals on laptops, tablets or smartphones.
With such trends as globalization and mobility, more meetings now are done in a virtual fashion among small groups of people, Kintz said. Whats been needed is a way to let such small groups meet comfortably and have a solution that is portable to such spaces as offices and small meeting rooms. Logitechs new device enables this, Nissan said.
It works for both smaller businesses as well as enterprises, which might have 500 rooms in their buildings, but only 50 that have video-enabled meeting rooms. Now people can meet through video conferencing in the other rooms.
If you try to huddle three or four people around an iPhone or even a Mac or iPad, its much too uncomfortable, Kintz said.
The BCC950 ConferenceCam combines a full high-definition Webcam that can pan an area, tilt and zoom in, either from a control pad on the device or via remote control. In addition, through the control pad or remote, users also can do everything from answer or end calls, adjust the volume or mute the microphone, according to Logitech.
It has a 78-degree area that it can view, a 180-degree video pan and a speakerphone that enables anyone in the meeting to be heard from up to 8 feet away. It also offers 1,080p, 30 frames-per-second capabilities and H.264 video technology. It weighs 20 ounces, making it easy to move from room to room.
Its optimized for Microsoft Lync and is certified to work with Skype, Kintz said. It also can work with most unified communications and video conferencing platforms, including those from Cisco and Polycom, he said.
The BCC950 ConferenceCam, which will be available in May for $249.99 from resellers, features the control pad as the base, with the camera at the top of a long neck coming from the base. Kintz said the device has a sharp, sleek look of a consumer product, which is what Logitech was aiming for. The company took its cue from Apple, whose beautifully designed consumer-based iPhones and iPads are finding wide acceptance in businesses. Logitech didnt want a boxy-looking gray enterprise device.
We wanted a cool design around this, Kintz said. It wouldnt have been something we could have done five years ago, but Apple paved the way.