Video conferencing equipment is not only expensive, it is also painstakingly difficult to set up most of the time, but a startup by the name of Highfive is hoping to change that with its all-in-one video conferencing system, and carve out a space for itself in a highly competitive market, which is already dominated by the likes of Cisco, Polycom, and more.
"Meetings suck. We all know that. We waste the first 15 minutes of every meeting navigating technology to get people connected. Projectors, speakerphones, conference bridges, dongles, pin codes... the list goes on and on", said Shan Sinha, the startup's co-founder and chief executive, in a blog post. "15 minutes later, once everyone is finally connected, our prize is an extremely awkward conference call".
Sinha is an an ex-Googler who has worked as a product manager for Google Apps. When he joined Google back in 2010, he found that every conference room in the company is equipped with a video-conferencing system developed by the search giant itself, enabling employees to communicate and collaborate with colleagues working at other Google offices.
"There was a pretty magical transformation at Google", he said. "My teams communicated differently than at any other company I've ever worked at".
However, not every organization can afford that kind of multimillion-dollar video conferencing setup. Just to give you an idea, its installation cost is around $20,000 per room. So, in 2012, Sinha left Google, and founded the startup with a vision to develop a higher quality video conferencing experience, but at a much lower cost.
After two years of hardwork, the startup has now introduced its first product – a $799 device equipped with an HD camera and a noise-canceling mic array, and accompanying cloud-based software. The device, which you can mount on the wall and connect to a TV, takes little time to set up and requires no additional cables or remote controls.
You can invite other participants to join a conference by sending a link, which they can open in a browser or through the Highfive mobile app (currently available for iPhone only), and start video conferencing. If a participant enters a conference room that has a Highfive device installed, they can transfer the video to the Highfive-connected flat-panel display with just a swipe on their hand-held device, which can then serve as a remote control.
Aside from the Highfive device, the service is free to use, but the company is planning to offer a $10 per active user per month premium option which will add features like custom branding, single sign-on, priority support, and more.
The product, which is already being used by around 100 companies including Shutterfly, HotelTonight, NxStage Medical, Mimeo, and more, is now available for purchase on the Highfive website.