At Computex 2018 this week, Microsoft announced a collaboration with Japanese display giant Sharp. The company unveiled the Windows Collaboration Displays platform. As the name suggests the partnership sees Sharp build room-sized meeting and collaboration devices that run Windows 10.
Yes, this is very much similar to Microsoft’s own Surface Hub devices. However, whereas the Surface Hub is essentially a PC wrapped inside a smart TV shell, the Sharp built devices are more like collaborative displays.
Microsoft’s Nick Parker described in a blog post how the Windows Collaborative Displays work within an enterprise environment.
“Windows Collaboration Displays [are] large, interactive displays [that] will let people experience Microsoft 365 collaboration tools—Office, Teams, and Whiteboard—at room scale, and [they] include built-in sensors that can connect to Azure IoT spatial intelligence capabilities. This incredible technology will allow facility managers to utilize environmental data to make real-time decisions. A variety of collaboration displays, from Sharp and Avocor will be available later this year.”
On stage at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, Microsoft called Windows Collaboration Displays “a new category of teamwork devices”.
Pushing OEM Development
While we can see the difference between Surface Hub and this new category, it is clear the former is following the general Surface ethos. Microsoft’s hardware products are supposed to serve as reference products for OEMs to create similar devices that are ideal for Windows integration.
Dinesh Narayanan explained how the platform furthers Microsoft’s push towards creating smart devices that leverage the intelligent cloud. In other words, the company wants to bring new experiences to existing product forms.
Windows Collaboration Displays basically bring Microsoft and other cloud service to what is in visual terms a TV display. Sharp’s device has a 70-inch panel with handles and a camera and sensor setup.