Zoom unveils a dedicated video conferencing device with a 27-inch touchscreen that costs $600 and is aimed at home workers

  • The high-end ‘Zoom for Home’ device can be used independently of a computer
  • The product will be released next month but the final UK price is to be confirmed
  • Zoom came to prominence after being heavily relied upon during the lockdown 
  • The ‘Zoom for Home’ moniker will apply to a new category of hardware devices 

Zoom has announced a dedicated video-conferencing device aimed specifically at home workers and retailing for a whopping $600 (about £475). 

The US firm is taking advantage of a huge boom in users of its video-conferencing software during the coronavirus pandemic with its first ever physical product. 

The ‘Zoom for Home’ has a 27-inch touchscreen with three wide-angle cameras for HD video calls, integrated speakers and an eight-microphone array for clearer audio.  

The device can be used independently of a computer, as well as being a second screen during Zoom meetings, and dwarfs a standard laptop. 

The new Zoom for Home device (pictured) has a multi-touch display, three wide-angle cameras for HD video calls, integrated speakers and an eight-microphone array for clearer audio

As a second screen, home users are given a whole extra display for video calls, meaning they don’t have to toggle between their work and the Zoom application. 

Zoom from Home users can get on with their work on their desktop or laptop while keeping an eye on their colleagues thanks to the generous display. 

But users can also use Zoom from Home as their sole device throughout their working day, as it allows them to annotate documents with the touch of a finger.

US pre-orders have begun for the new device, which will ship from next month, although Zoom has not yet confirmed an exact UK price for the product when it ships to Europe ‘later in the year’.

Customers in Europe, including the UK, can pre-order from September. 

The firm said the ‘Zoom for Home’ name will apply to a whole new category of hardware devices to support remote working, meaning more Zoom devices will be revealed at a later date. 

Pictured is the 27-inch Zoom for Home touchscreen device (left) next to a  laptop. It can be used for presenting and annotating information on-screen, and can be used independently of a computer

The rise of home working during the pandemic was a key factor in the creation of the new device, the company has admitted. 

The video conferencing app came to prominence during the coronavirus lockdown as millions turned to the service to help communicate with colleagues while working from home. 

Zoom previously said in April that it has around 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants globally, while in the UK, user numbers rose from 659,000 UK users in January to 13 million in April, according to Ofcom. 

But despite being busy with its efforts to boost the security of the platform to keep up with demand, the company is now tapping into the hardware market. 

Zoom from Home users can get on with their work on their laptop while keeping an eye on their colleagues

‘After experiencing remote work ourselves for the past several months, it was clear that we needed to innovate a new category dedicated to remote workers,’ said Eric Yuan, Zoom’s chief executive.

‘I’m so proud of the team for continuing to think outside the box and prove why Zoom is the best unified communications platform that can meet the needs of all types of users.’    

The device’s ‘ultra-light’ screen has a thickness of half an inch and the whole device weighs 14.5 pounds. 

From the side angle, the new device’s ultra-thin body becomes evident – it’s only half an inch

Zoom said the three cameras up top above the device display help to ‘optimise the view of the room’

On the front of the display is a smart camera that optimises the whole of the room while it delivers ‘crystal clear’ audio. 

Zoom said the devices set-up process is simple and works right out of the box to seamlessly connect for anyone with a Zoom Meeting license – the chat participant who hosts the video call. 

Users of the device, made by US-based firm DTEN, can log into Zoom with their existing credentials to present and annotate information on-screen.      

But users can also make Zoom from Home as their sole device throughout their working day, making it ideal for annotating documents with the touch of a finger.

Zoom said the future of knowledge work will be a mixture of virtual and in-person experience, although many are considering the benefits of working from home permanently.

In a recent study by IBM, 81 per cent of a group of survey respondents – up from 75 per cent in April – indicated they want to continue working remotely at least some of the time and 61 per cent would like this to become their primary way of working.   

Zoom’s huge rise in subscriber numbers over the lockdown has also boosted the company’s profile, although this has also attracted the interest of cyber criminals.   

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, seen here at the firm’s IPO in New York in April 2019, said the rise of home working during the pandemic was a key factor in the creation of the new device

The company previously launched a programme of security upgrades in April to improve its privacy settings. 

As part of that programme, the company has released a number of security updates designed to better secure user accounts and prevent strangers from breaking into meetings – incidents which had become known as ‘Zoombombing’. 

Sometimes those disruptions have included broadcasting porn in video chats or intruders making vulgar or racist comments. 

It was already reported that Zoom credentials belonging to more than 500,000 Zoom users were stolen and sold on the dark web for less than a penny each.

The information was obtained through ‘credential stuff’, where data previously leaked in breaches are used to access different services.

Security company Cyble first noticed an influx of Zoom accounts for purchase in a hacker forum on April 1 and were able to obtain 530,000 for just $0.002 each – although some were also being shared for free.

The credentials included personal meeting URLs, email addresses and passwords, along with host keys that allow them to enter meetings and carry out ‘Zoomboming’ attacks.

Back in March, Zoom was also found to be sharing sensitive data with Facebook – such as the exact time the Zoom app was opened, phone carrier, device specs and location – to help inform the social network’s targeted ads.   

WHAT IS ZOOM DOING TO ADDRESS SECURITY CONCERNS?  

To address concerns, the company has hired former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an adviser.

It also formed an advisory board to look into its privacy and safety practices.

Zoom has also sent out an update with a new security menu to make accessing privacy tools easier.

The platform has introduced a dedicated security icon at the bottom of the screen from which users can quickly access all the app’s safety features. 

The new menu now allows to update security settings while live in a call for the first time, rather than making meeting hosts set security settings before a call.

This was something critics said was leading to gaps in meeting security and privacy, because users unaware of all Zoom’s safety features often started meetings without seeing all the options.

In addition to the new centralised security menu, Zoom said meeting IDs would no longer be displayed on the title toolbar.

The company said this was to prevent others seeing active meeting IDs when ‘Zoom screenshots are posted publicly’, and using the information to crash meetings.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticised when hosting a virtual Cabinet meeting on the platform last month, after he revealed the meeting ID and usernames of several Cabinet ministers by posting a screenshot to Twitter.

 

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