Jamboard. It’s Google’s 55-inch 4K touchscreen-- the first hardware product in Google’s rebranded G Suite of cloud-based tools. Formerly Google Apps for Work, G Suite is a set of intelligent apps for business by Google Cloud.—you know many of these collaboration tools from apps like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs.
The problem that Google saw: their tools make online long-distance collaboration easy online, but put everyone in the same huddle room and there’s Google confusion. People would have to agree which tools to use--and spend meeting time sorting it all out. They couldn’t walk in and be both creative and collaborative in G Suite at the same time.
With a Jamboard session, now people can join in from anywhere via a Jamboard app on an Android or iOS device. As they see a real-time feed from the board, they can add text, photos, and drawings to the mix. The leader of the session can share it all with Google Hangout participants.
You can drive a meeting from a tablet, but the big Jamboard is mission control. It includes two stylii and the screen is pressure-sensitive when you’re writing on it. Magnets keep the stylii and microfiber eraser at rest on Jamboard’s metal base. (Any rubber-tipped stylus works, and you could use your hand to erase.).
Jamboard does an impressive job converting your scrawl to searchable text. And it can straighten your lines, shapes, and symbols so everything looks neat and tidy. Work is saved to Google Drive (because Jamboard doesn’t have internal memory.)
From the board, you can dial in participants via Google Hangouts and search for images, maps, videos, and web pages to drag and drop into a Jam session. An HD camera above the screen lets you snap pics or selfies, while HDMI inputs and built-in Chromecast let you bring in other media like video .
The big-screen Jamboard session is mirrored on tablets. You can create and collaborate by adding or rearranging texts, images or maps from a side menu. On a smartphone your interaction is limited, but you do see what’s on the board in real time-- and you could add text or create digital notes.
No, you can’t join via laptop or desktop. You could watch a Jam session in your browser, but you would have to go mobile if you want to contribute to the session.
Sure, Jamboard competes against Sharp’s Aquos Board, Surface Hub and a horde of new challengers. Google hopes to leverage its USP-- how it ties together all of Google’s tools and cloud services.
Available next year, it should cost less than $6000, but you could register to be part of the early-adopter program.
If you can take a bird’s eye view and see where all this is going, work is changing and the big internet giants want to own it all. Microsoft, Facebook, Google…and a few others that don’t even know it yet (Apple, Oracle) will try to surround the new worker and chain all the work to all-encompassing platform.
EDITOR's NOTE: BenQ announced it will exclusively bring to market Jamboard, the 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) touch-enabled device aimed at enhancing collaboration in the enterprise workplace. For the UK region, Jamboard is scheduled for release in March 2017. Go BenQ Europe.