Intel's Unite meeting tech comes to the iPad, and soon to Chromebooks

Intel is making it easier to join meetings via the iPad with its Unite meeting room technology.

Intel's Unite meeting room technology.

Intel's Unite makes collaboration in meetings easier.

Credit: Intel

Intel is providing fewer excuses to miss meetings by bringing support for its Unite technology to iPads, and later, to Chromebooks.

Unite is designed to make it easier for on-site and remote attendees to log in, securely collaborate and share whiteboards and monitors during meetings. After logging into a central hub PC -- a Windows desktop typically located in a meeting room -- attendees can share documents and video, or switch on hardware like projectors.

The Unite client software logs attendees, who may use either Mac or Windows machines, into the hub PC. Through the hub, attendees in a conference room and outside can share presentations on a large monitor or other computing devices.

The client software will now work with the iPad, and support will be added for Chromebooks in the future, said Tom Garrison, vice president in the Client Computing Group and general manager of the Business Client Platforms division at Intel.

Garrison didn't provide a timeline for when Chromebook support would be added. Intel adds new features to Unite every six months, and Chromebook support could be in one of those upgrade cycles. Chromebooks have been popular in the education market, which is where Intel is also targeting Unite.

Unite has competition in the form of Webex, Skype, GoToMeeting and other client software designed for meetings and collaboration. But the chip-maker hopes to reach a wider audience by getting its software pre-installed in PCs. It remains to be seen whether most PC buyers welcome the move, or consider the technology to be unwanted bloatware.

Internally, Intel has been using the software for more than a year. Unite helps start meetings quickly, which helps save time and money. Intel has said this year it hopes to improve productivity by 112,000 hours with Unite deployed in 2,300 meeting rooms.

Intel has also made incremental improvements to Unite. Videos can be shared between participants in meetings, which is an improvement over the ability to share only static images and Powerpoint slides. Improvements have also been made to security, scheduling and log-in features.

For Intel, Unite is an unconventional product as it doesn't necessarily highlight the chip-maker's hardware technology. One prerequisite is that the hub PC needs a Core processor with vPro technology. But the client PCs using the Unite client software have no such requirement of using Intel technology.

Over time, Intel has larger plans to tie Unite with WiGig, which the chip-maker says will be useful in meeting rooms. Intel currently sells a wireless dock with WiGig, which is faster than Wi-Fi, and it could be used to project presentations on large conference room monitors. Unite currently relies mostly on Wi-Fi technology.

Garrison said Unite will also make its way into areas like Internet of Things, which is a major area of focus for Intel as it moves beyond being just a PC company.

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