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Google adds digital whiteboard to device line-up

Published:Wednesday | October 26, 2016 | 10:00 AM
This image provided by Google shows a demonstration of the company's new product called ‘Jamboard’.

Google has designed a giant touch-screen canvas for companies trying to make it easier for their employees to brainstorm as they work on team projects and other assignments.

The product is called Jamboard, an allusion to its goal of replacing the physical whiteboards that companies have been setting up in meeting rooms for decades. It boasts a 55-inch, ultrahigh-definition screen capable of recognising the difference between when someone is writing on it with a stylus or touching it with a finger.

Google released the device to a small group of companies on Tuesday before making it widely available early next year.

As with a whiteboard, employees can post their ideas, documents and images on the Jamboard, only they won't need markers, tape or sticky notes to do it. Instead, they can use their fingers, a stylus or smartphones and smaller tablets to share information and content from anywhere with an online connection. All the work posted on a Jamboard can be saved in Google's online storage service, Drive.

Jamboard represents Google's latest effort to lure business and government customers away from Microsoft, which makes a similar product called the Surface Hub. Google is undercutting Microsoft by pricing Jamboard at about US$6,000, a 33 per cent markdown from the US$9,000 Surface Hub.

Using Jamboard will require a subscription to Google's G Suite of email and other business applications, a service that starts at US$5 per month.

Jamboard reinforces Google's push to make its own gear in an attempt to hook more people on its software and other digital services. Until this fall, Google had teamed up with other manufacturers whenever it made a phone or other gadget.

But Google just rolled out a fancy smartphone called the Pixel that it designed itself. Soon, it will start selling an Internet-connected speaker called Home. Both those devices feature a digital assistant powered by Google's artificial-intelligence programs.

Jamboard operates with an application that works on smartphones and tablets powered either by Google's Android software or Apple's operating system for iPhones and Pads.

Jamboard will not work with Microsoft's Windows system, making it incompatible with Surface tablets and most personal computers.

- AP