Intel Brings More Security, iPad Support to Unite Conferencing Product

Initially developed for internal use, the chip maker's collaboration solution is now being used by such vendors as HP Inc. and Lenovo.

video collaboration

An internal technology that was developed by Intel engineers to help them better collaborate hit the market last year, and it's putting the chip maker into an unusual market for it.

Intel introduced the Unite technology a year ago during the Computex 2015 show, and now the company is adding a new range of features that brings new security enhancements and broadens the systems it can run on.

The new capabilities include a feature that "locks" a conference call or video meeting to ensure that additional attendees can't join in, which is important for conferences in which sensitive topics are being discussed. In addition, Intel is offering a native mobile app for Apple's iPad tablet.

Other features enable in-room participants to display video content that is accompanied by audio, and now users can more easily book a room and create a shortcut URL to the meeting invite, according to Intel officials. They also plan to integrate the technology further with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook to bring more scheduling capabilities, and the guest plug-in was improved to enable guests to be present wirelessly without them being able to access the corporate network.

These features add to the capabilities already in Unite, including peer-to-peer sharing, wireless connectivity to office devices and a rotating PIN for improved security. The conference room platform was developed as a way of enabling employees—both within the office and those working remotely—to collaborate and share content in a secure environment, officials said. Unite enables businesses to use a mini-PC powered by an Intel Core vPro chip in the conference room and the Unite applications running on devices to wirelessly connect to displays and projectors.

The connection is made through a secure WiFi connection and a unique, rotating PIN for users to quickly and securely join a meeting. Those in the meeting can communicate, share files and edit documents, while IT departments can manage and secure the devices and deploy the technology in rooms of varying sizes without the need of wires or dongles.

For Intel, it's another way to expand the use of its silicon products. The hub device needs to be powered by a Core vPro chip, though the devices used by the attendees can vary, as evidenced by the inclusion of the Apple iPad. It's also part of Intel's vision of a future where devices can wirelessly connect easily.

That said, Unite also puts Intel into a crowded and competitive collaboration space that includes a broad range of vendors, including Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Avaya and Polycom.

The chip maker itself has seen the benefits of the Unite technology. According to officials, after implementing it internally, Intel employees found that they could start meetings 70 percent faster than previously. Unite enables enterprises to overcome the time-consuming issues that arise when trying to get a meeting going among people located in multiple places and using a broad array of devices and platforms that can be incompatible.

The chip maker is looking to expand the use of the technology within the company, hoping to improve productivity by 112,000 hours when Unite is deployed into 2,300 meeting rooms worldwide this year.

Other tech vendors also are embracing the technology. HP Inc. offers its Collaboration PC, which is based on the company's EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini and includes Intel's Unite technology and the Skype for Business plug-in from Microsoft. Lenovo last month introduced its Smart Meeting Room Solution, which includes the company's ThinkCentre Tiny desktop and the Unite solution from Intel.