Google’s aims to reinvent the whiteboard with its massive, cloud-connected Jamboard

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Google’ Jamboard is a massive touch display and accompanying cloud service that’s supposed to help business users brainstorm together. It works like a digital whiteboard, letting users sketch out ideas, attach digital sticky notes, plus bring in content from the web into a single, constantly updating workspace. People can use Jamboard to collaborate both on the 55-inch mega-display of the same name, or using accompanying tablet and smartphone apps for iOS and Android.

The Jamboard is available in private beta for business customers of Google’s G Suite productivity service very soon. The company expects to make it generally available early next year.

Jamboard also supports technology that will turn handwriting drawn on the screen into text, and convert drawn shapes into digital ones. It’s a way to dress up the work that people are doing on the device.

All Jams are backed up to one user’s Google Drive account, which means that in the event the Jamboard appliance loses power, users’ work is backed up to the cloud.

The Jamboard appliance can support the full Hangouts experience using its built-in camera, speakers and microphone. That means users could interact with a call that has up to 50 participants on it while whiteboarding at the same time. That turns the device into a roving collaboration hub, which could be useful.

Users will also be able to interact with the full Jamboard canvas using the tablet apps that Google has developed for Android and iOS. That way, people who don’t have control of the mega-display can still contribute fully to the conversation at hand, whether they’re in the room or working remotely.

People can also add content to a Jam using the Jamboard phone app for iPhone and Android. It won’t give users the full ability to edit what people are working on, but will make it easier for them to do things like add outside content and sticky notes to what’s being discussed.

After all, this feels a bit like the second coming of Google Wave, a before-its-time collaboration product that let people work together on constantly evolving, live-updating digital whiteboards (without a physical component). Wave launched in 2009 and shut down in 2012, due to lack of interest.

 

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