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Lifesize looks to make outfitting huddle rooms cheaper

Lifesize has released a cloud-based device for wireless screen sharing. The vendor also previewed a video conferencing kit designed for outfitting huddle rooms for video conferencing.

Lifesize this week released a device for wireless screen sharing and previewed a software-based video conferencing room kit. The products should appeal to businesses looking for relatively cheap ways to add collaboration technology to huddle rooms.

Companies can plug Lifesize Share into any monitor with an HDMI port, including the video conferencing systems of third-party providers. The device lets users wirelessly share files, individual browser tabs or their computer screens. It also syncs with cellphones.

Users can manage all of the Lifesize Share displays through an online portal, which is accessible via a customizable URL. Lifesize, meanwhile, keeps the software of the Share devices updated via the cloud. The devices could be particularly useful in huddle rooms, which often lack the more expensive equipment found in large conference rooms.

"Really, it's about keeping it simple for users when they bring their own device into the room," said Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "This alleviates that physical connection problem."

Cisco released a similar product last month, Cisco Webex Share, which is expected to become available this fall. Dozens of other products for sharing content wirelessly from PCs and mobile devices are already on the market -- perhaps the best-selling among them being Barco ClickShare, Arnold said. Despite the number of available products, demand for more options is growing.

Businesses often cite "content" as the second most important aspect of a meeting, behind audio and above video, Arnold said. "Some rooms don't really need video, but you need content, and you need audio."

The ability to manage Lifesize Share devices from an online portal could help the product stand out, said Ira Weinstein, managing partner of Recon Research Inc., based in Coral Springs, Fla.

"It's a lower-cost device with some of the features of some of the more expensive platforms," Weinstein said. Lifesize Share costs $499, which includes a two-year subscription and warranty.

Lifesize meeting room kit targets huddle rooms

The Lifesize meeting room kit, called Dash, lets businesses turn meeting rooms into resources people can reserve through calendaring software and manage using an Android or iOS tablet left in the room. The software application that facilitates the connection runs on a Chromebox.

The vendor plans to demo its meeting room kit at the InfoComm conference in Las Vegas next week. The platform competes against similar products available from web conferencing vendors, including Zoom and BlueJeans.

Lifesize is known for its Icon series video conferencing cameras and conference phones. However, many businesses can't afford to purchase those endpoints for all of their huddle rooms. Therefore, Lifesize hopes Dash appeals to existing customers as a lower-cost alternative.

Lifesize released a cloud-based web conferencing platform four years ago to replace its on-premises video conferencing servers. The announcements of Dash and Share this week are the vendor's latest attempts to pivot toward a business model based on the sale of software and services that complement its hardware.

"This is a way for taking an existing Lifesize customer and making it more cost-effective for them to scale," Weinstein said of Dash. "And I think it's a great way to drop the overall cost of people who are considering getting further into video, but have found it cost-prohibitive."

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