Waterloo, Ont.-based Startup Ubiq Inc.’s new conference room solution launching on Monday can be described as part Apple TV, part digital signage management system.
Ubiq’s product is simple from a hardware perspective: a simple, rectangular black box that connects to your boardroom’s TV or projector via an HDMI output and to your company’s WiFi network. It allows users to connect with it via Wi-Fi to project their screen to the room from a PC or a Mac, and plans to support mobile devices in the near future.
From a software perspective, Ubiq hosts a web-accessible dashboard for company administrators to service those conference rooms, and transform dormant office monitors into a digital signage program potentially useful to employees or visitors. Users who want to present simply download a small client to their device and connect to the same Wi-Fi network as the Ubiq device.
“It’s the bread and butter of our solution,” says Jacqueline Chan, business development lead at Ubiq. “We’re trying to make use of any screen and not leave it blank.”
Ubiq’s cloud dashboard can be used to program a series of photos that are shown as a slideshow on the connected monitor. The device contains some tools to customize different wallpapers that are displayed and make it easy to add a company logo as well.
Beyond showing off pictures of your summer company barbeque to guests, Ubiq’s software makes it easy for the IT department to deploy multiple units. Once one is set up, a template can be created based on its configuration and applied to new Ubiq setups in other rooms. Also, monitoring features show the IT department logged usage details about the different units and it offers integration with Active Directory and Google Calendar.
From a security standpoint, Ubiq allows users to connect via your company’s guest Wi-Fi network, so the keys to your company’s sensitive information need not be handed over to anyone doing a presentation. Isolating networks in this way isn’t offered on consumer-grade devices, Chan says.
“We’ve had customers that use Apple TV,” she says. “For security purposes, it really doesn’t do the job.”
Ubiq Inc. is a new company that’s been stringing together stints at startup accelerators for the last several years. In 2014 it won funding from the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Fund – a total of $30,000 including a “best hardware” award – and this year completed a stint with Boston-based Y-Combinator.
During that time, Ubiq has been able to do a private beta test with some high-profile brands as customers, Chan says. Walmart and Shake Shack are included on that list, though the product is now targeted at mid-market companies. It also learned how to best price its product.
“We used to charge a monthly subscription for software, but people didn’t like that,” she says. “We find if we charge our customers for the hardware to break even, and then a bit for an annual licence fee, that’s better.”
Ubiq’s hardware costs $1,299 USD and an enterprise licence costs $396. For companies that want multiple units, bulk pricing can be negotiated.