Lifesize launches new video gear for huddle rooms

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In the world of videoconferencing, there’s a gap between the large conference room systems and lecture hall gear, and the individual’s webcam on their computer, tablet or smartphone. For smaller conference rooms, many of which have been renamed “huddle rooms”, neither  option seems appropriate, because of cost (using a larger system) or convenience (2-4 people shouldn’t have to crowd around a laptop screen).

Videoconferencing vendors continue to address this need, with Lifesize being the latest – the company announced today its Icon 450 system, a videoconferencing camera and audio system aimed specifically at the huddle room. The system connects to the Lifesize Cloud, the company’s cloud-based videoconferencing platform.

On the hardware side, the Icon 450 includes a wide-angle lens (82-degree horizontal field of view, 59-degree vertical), a 1080p resolution lens with 5x optical zoom, and auto-focus features. New to this gear is what Lifesize calls its “Smart Framing Sensor”, which automatically adjusts the camera to center on everyone on a particular call, reducing the need for an employee to manually pan or zoom in on a specific speaker. The camera connects via HDMI to a display (not included), which supports both 1080p or 720p resolutions. For audio, the Icon 450 includes the Lifesize Phone HD device – not only does it have an audio speaker for the call, but a touch-screen display lets employees create and launch meetings at the touch of a button.

The cloud-based service lets you launch meetings from Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for  Work and supports Skype for Business sessions as well. Integration with these and other services lets them send invites via email, start a meeting via their calendar or provide a meeting URL. The goal is to make creating and using a videoconferencing system a lot easier than current larger room systems, Lifesize says.

The system starts at $4,999 (including the camera, Phone HD device, remote control and cables); subscriptions for the Lifesize Cloud service start at $29 per month per user, with an annual contract.