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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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February 6, 2017 |

Intel Updates Unite Conference Room Solution

The latest release features a meeting moderator feature, new support for Android tablets, and more.

Intel Corp. has released an updated edition of its Unite collaboration and conference room solution.

Enhancements in the new release include a meeting moderator feature that lets a leader determine who among a conference’s attendees controls the presentation. That can help businesses keep large meetings flowing smoothly by preventing multiple people from attempting to share content at once, and is also useful in classroom settings, according to Tom Garrison, vice president and general manager for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel’s Business Client division.

“You need to have a person in control of the sharing and making sure that the sharing is done in a way that is coordinated and what the teacher expects,” he observes.

New static access code functionality added to Unite today should also prove valuable to education customers, Garrison continues. By default, Unite automatically changes the 6-digit pin that meeting attendees must use to connect with the system every few minutes. That protects meetings from unauthorized viewers, but can be confusing for K-12 students, so Intel has added the ability to assign a fixed pin instead.

“For business, we still think having the rotating pin is the right way to go,” Garrison notes, as it will better keep sensitive content private.

Also debuting today is a new mobile app that lets users of Android tablets join meetings, view content, and present content remotely. Intel has also added the ability to present content to its previously released iPad app, which could only view conference materials before.

Usability enhancements to Unite’s web-based management portal and a new plug-in that provides analytics data on when the system is most and least used, how many presentations it supports in a typical day or hour, and related topics are the final new additions announced today. The latter feature gives administrators and facilities operators information they can use to optimize conference room budgets and layouts.

Intel first introduced Unite in June 2015, and has been upgrading its capabilities steadily ever since. Early last summer, for example, the company added high-definition audio and video support, functionality for scheduling meetings, and the ability to include visitors without local network permissions in Unite conferences.

There are nearly 100,000 Unite deployments in operation today, according to Garrison, who credits the system’s low cost and robust functionality for that brisk adoption. As ChannelPro reported last year, businesses need only purchase a PC bearing Intel Core vPro processors, at a cost of $1,000 or less typically, to equip a conference room for use with Unite. There are no additional investments required in server infrastructure or ongoing license fees.

“If you look at many of the other solutions that are in the market today, they are multiple thousands of dollars in some cases,” Garrison says. “We offer a higher level of capability than anyone else in the industry, and we are one of the, if not the, lowest cost solution.”

Plug-ins like the new analytics add-on have been a feature of Unite since its launch, and are a key part of how it enables businesses to upgrade rather than replace the product when new functionality becomes available.

“They don’t have to worry about buying a solution only to find out 6 months later that there’s something else they wish they really had,” Garrison notes.

That two of the new features rolled out today respond to needs specific to classrooms reflects strong momentum for Unite among K-12 and higher education buyers.

“We’ve had interest from education customers since the inception of Unite,” Garrison says, adding that retail and healthcare organizations have been receptive to the system as well. Intel plans to add more capabilities tailored to the needs of those and other verticals in the future alongside additional features with cross-industry appeal.

“We will continue to add new capabilities on a very regular cadence,” Garrison says.

The latest edition of Unite arrives just two weeks after Cisco introduced a new conference room solution for use with its Spark collaboration tool. Microsoft and Google both have comparable systems, named Surface Hub and Jamboard respectively. Unlike Intel’s, however, those products feature specialized displays costing thousands of dollars. Users of Cisco’s offering must pay subscription fees as well.

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