But today, the company is announcing new Google Meet videoconferencing hardware - though the hardware is designed for conference rooms, not for your home.
To see everyone better, the Series One groupset either comes with a standard smart camera or an "extra large" version up to 4K.
Google's Series One hardware comes in kits sized for small, medium, and large rooms. "Google aims to address that with dedicated partnerships that certify the integration between hardware and software". Yes, but that was in October 2017, as in pre-pandemic.
This isn't the first conference room hardware created to work with Google Meet.
Prices start at $2,699 for the small room kit, $2,999 for the medium, and $3,999 for the large.
Google is now in a virtual meeting war with Microsoft and Zoom.
These high-end room kits are powered by the Google Meet Compute System, which serves as a kind of nerve center for the hardware and uses much of the same technology found in Google's cloud data centers.
Series one features TrueVoice®, their multi-channel noise cancellation and voice amplification technology that minimizes distractions to ensure every voice is heard.
This means cameras can help keep track of the number of people in the room, and group product manager TJ Varghese briefly said this could extend to "any new types of requirements, be it social distancing requirements etc".
There's also a Smart Audio Bar, which has a 2.5-inch woofer, a one-inch tweeter, and eight beam-forming microphones that Google claims can process "up to 44 channels simultaneously".
The Series One hardware is comprised of a 12-megapixel Smart Camera; an alternate 20.3-megapixel Smart Camera XL is offered for larger conference rooms. The high resolution makes digital PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) effects and automatic participant framing possible, Google says. The camera's ability to frame people of different races, however, is a work in progress. "I think this is something the industry has finally acknowledged and is accepting".
With soft silhouettes and quality materials that complement any meeting space, the new Series One room kits were designed specifically with customers and administrators in mind. Controllers (both touch screen and simple manual remote control) will support voice control so you can call into a meeting by asking the assistant to connect you.
Automatic over-the-air updates ensure easy fleet management. Everything is securely managed through the Google Admin console, including device setup, status checks, and minor issue resolution without ever having to visit the room. Each kit can anonymously sense the number of room participants and visits. Mic Pods - of which the medium kit gets one, the large two - for extended aural reach to individual participants. One-touch audio calibration for room acoustics can automatically optimize system audio settings for different room sizes and surfaces. The devices easily blend into any room and come in two color models, Charcoal and Chalk. Indeed, the kits come with three years of Lenovo Premier Support and five years EOL support.
The devices will arrive in late October - Lenovo plans to share the exact date at its own event in mid-October. Rounded corners, quality fabric and Google's signature industrial design make Series One a welcome addition to any architectural style.