Logitech Grows Video Options With ConferenceCam Connect

The small, highly portable all-in-one system is aimed at enabling full video conferencing capabilities for small groups meeting in "huddle rooms."

Logitech video camera

Logitech continues to expand its video conferencing portfolio, rolling out its latest system aimed at bringing video capabilities to smaller meeting rooms that don't currently have video.

The company's ConferenceCam Connect is a portable all-in-one offering aimed at what Ziva Nissan, senior B2B video product manager at Logitech, called "huddle rooms." Businesses have a choice of systems from other vendors for their larger conference rooms, while smaller groups had to try to run a video conference huddled around a notebook or desktop PC, Nissan said during an interview with eWEEK in Boston.

However, people increasingly want a better video conferencing experience in these smaller rooms, where three to five people can meet and leverage all the benefits of the technology. Nissan estimated that there are 21 million such huddle rooms worldwide, and fewer than 1 million of them have video capabilities.

"There's this gap in the middle," she said. "Folks want to get into a room and get into a conference."

The ConferenceCam Connect, which will be available in March starting at $499, is designed to be portable and easy to use; the system can connect to any device via a USB connection. It works with a broad array of platforms—including Lync and Skype from Microsoft, Cisco Systems' Jabber and WebEx, Citrix Systems' GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and products from Blue Jeans Network, Vidyo, Zoom and LifeSize Communications (which is owned by Logitech).

It's compatible with PCs, Macs and Chromebooks for video conferencing, and leverages the Miracast screen-mirroring technology for devices running Windows and Google's Android operating systems. The technology enables the ConferenceCam Connect to automatically mirror the presentations, spreadsheets, videos or Internet content from a mobile device to a TV screen via a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connection. Apple uses another mirroring technology, AirPlay, for its iOS-based devices.

The video conferencing system—which is optimized for Lync 2013 and Jabber and is WebEx-compatible and Skype-certified—offers a 90-degree field of view and a camera with Full HD zoom, autofocus, and the ability to pan and tilt. The speakerphone includes Bluetooth wireless technology, near-field communication (NFC) and a USB port. It also includes 360-degree sound, giving users the ability to hear anyone within a 12-foot radius, Nissan said. On a full battery charge, the device can run a video conference for up to three hours or an audio conference for up to 15 hours.

Logitech's Nissan said the ConferenceCam Connect was designed to be easy to move from one room to another and easy to use.

"No IT person or end user wants something they need to spend a lot of time on installing," she said.

Logitech, which is best known for its wide array of peripherals for consumers, has grown its presence in video conferencing over the last several years. The company bought LifeSize in 2009, and in 2012 launched the BCC950 ConferenceCam, its first effort to bring easy video conferencing to smaller groups. Last year, Logitech rolled out anther system, the ConferenceCam CC3000e, an all-in-one offering for groups of up to 10 people.

The ConferenceCam Connect is the latest model, Nissan said. The system dovetails with the growing transition in the video conferencing market away from high-priced conference-room systems to smaller, easier-to-use solutions that address the growing demand among workers for portable systems that enable them to easily connect, even in an ad hoc fashion without having to schedule a meeting ahead of time. In addition, an increasingly mobile workforce is pushing for products that enable them to connect at any time and from anywhere, and on any device they want.

Other vendors also are pushing new solutions that address these demands. LifeSize itself earlier this month unveiled the Icon 400 for huddle rooms. Nissan said Logitech's products complement the offerings from LifeSize, which is focused more on building out its cloud capabilities for larger customers looking for solutions that offer them everything.

Logitech's products can support a range of different applications, systems and platforms.

"We're a company about choice," she said.