Redmond is bringing touch where it’s never been before -- at least not in the enterprise world. Microsoft just announced two versions of its megascreen Surface Hub collaboration device aimed at the business market.
The 84-inch Surface Hub, sporting a $19,999 price tag, and the 55-inch priced at $6,999, will roll out in 24 markets beginning on July 1. The company relied on touch and ink innovations to deliver Windows 10, Skype for Business, OneNote, Office and Universal Windows apps to the megascreen Surface Hub to drive what it calls a “new kind” of productivity geared toward groups.
“While there are a number of devices designed to improve our productivity as individuals, there has yet to be a device that is truly optimized for a group of people to use together -- designed not just for what we need to do, but how we want to work. Until now,” said Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices.
A Revolutionary Hub?
Microsoft is betting Surface Hub will be revolutionary. Essentially, it’s an oversize, cloud-connected Windows 10 device with a user-friendly interface that’s designed for groups. Anyone in the group can walk up to the Hub and share ideas.
Here’s how it works: A welcome screen invites you to use features like a white board. You can initiate a video conference or share content. You can tap into Windows apps to display real-time business data in meetings and use various business tools to drive your points home. The idea is to help decision-makers leave meetings with the compelling, relevant facts.
The center of the experience, of course, is the touchscreen. Surface Hub can detect 100 touch points of multitouch and up to three pen inputs at the same time. The machine is also equipped with dual 1080p front-facing video cameras, and a four-element microphone array that detects and follows your voice and does away with background noise during videoconferencing sessions. Finally, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC (near field communication) and a variety of ports so devices can share content to the screen.
This Should Resonate
We turned to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his reaction to the newfangled technology. Will Surface Hub really resonate with enterprises? Enderle told us he thinks it will -- and for a very good reason.
“[It's the] most advanced system for groups collaborating remotely,” Enderle said. “[It has a] fascinating blend of audio, 4k video, and touch technology. People that have used it have been amazed at how good it is.”
Microsoft is certainly pulling out all the stops to ensure the Surface Hub is more successful than the Surface Pro tablet. Redmond is working with a laundry list of companies to offer the best possible sales and integration experiences. Microsoft rattled off partner names like Ingram Micro, Telstra, AMX, and Herman Miller, spanning distributors, resellers, advanced control, automation and conference system makers and thought leaders.
Surface Hub and related accessories will initially be available in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, Qatar, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.