Since the release of Google+ in the summer of 2011 I always wondered why Google did not enable video conferencing streaming from Gmail. They have supported video chat in Gmail since 2008 but only for peer-to-peer connections. I guess they must be feeling the heat from AnyMeeting, Join.Me, MeetingBurner and Skype among others, because today Google announced it will gradually start to roll out this new feature to Gmail users over the next few weeks giving you the ability to start Hangouts straight from the chat pane. Very Cool!
If you haven’t used Google+ Hangouts you should give it a try; for starters is Free. They allow you to connect with up to 10 people at a time and if you enable the On-Air feature your meeting is automatically recorded, and uploaded to your very own YouTube channel immediately after you end the meeting. This could easily be used as a low cost lecture capture solution, project based learning multimedia tool or any other class project that could use the introduction of video as an engagement tool. So go ahead an give it a try, all you need is a Gmail account, webcam and a set of headsets. For more information watch this video for a short demonstration on how it all works.