3 min read

Few days back I wrote about how the cloud collaboration with Google could overturn Cisco’s dwindling fortunes. Seems like the internet tech pioneer is now back into full throttle. It has a reason to remind the world what it did with internet, after all. And no prizes in guessing that it intends to do the same with the next generation tech sensation – artificial intelligence.

To start with, let’s be honest with the daily corporate meetings – it’s boring. Meetings after meetings – every Monday, every other day, client meetings, internal meetings, vendor meetings – and possible all kinds of stakeholders meetings that are ‘serious’ stuffs. Devoid of smile.

Enter Cisco Spark Assistant. As you set up your office meetings, AI takes over with a simple, “Hey, Spark.”

Basically bots have entered your meeting rooms. “During the next few years, AI meeting bots will be joining our work teams. When they do, people will be able to ditch the drudgery of meeting setup and other logistics to become more creative than ever,” says Cisco SVP and GM Rowan Trollope, “The future of great meetings is Spark with AI and our partners have an incredible opportunity to help customers take advantage of this game-changing technology.”

Cisco Spark Assistant is the latest in the series of innovations on the Cisco Spark platform. The announcement was made at Cisco Partner Summit, and the company said the world’s first enterprise-ready voice assistant for meetings will see a phased rollout. Early next year, it will be available first on the Cisco Spark Room Series portfolio, including the new flagship Cisco Spark Room 70.

In May, Cisco had entered a $125 million deal to buy MindMeld. The new service leverages machine learning technology out of that acquisition.

So how it is going to bring down the hassles? The Assistant will let you speak commands to Spark-registered devices, and it’s kind of going to be a zero-touch meeting scenario. Just tell the AI bots what you want it do. From ‘Hey, Spark. Let’s get started.’ and ‘Hey, Spark. Call Wilson’s meeting room.’ to ‘Hey, Spark. End the meeting.’ All without lifting a finger.

Apart from machine learning, speech recognition technology and natural language understanding, Cisco said it has also applied its deep knowledge of meetings, honed over time: “Because we deliver 50 billion minutes of meetings every year. With this, we optimized the AI for the conference room.” Don’t forget since the time you started your first job, you have always seen a Cisco conference phone in every meeting room.

In future, Cisco plans to further enhance the service based on the feedback from early trials. The Assistant could become smarter with added capabilities to assign action items and prepare minutes of the meeting. “Spark Assistant takes advantage of our meeting room endpoints’ industry-first advancements such as intelligent proximity, speaker tracking and real-time face recognition. These let it see and hear. As a result, Cisco Spark Assistant knows who enters the room, who leaves the room and who is speaking,” the company said in its official announcement.

The initial focus looks clearly on simplifying everyday meetings. And voice commands promise to streamline the things. Above all, they definitely induce an ‘interactive’ incentive to drive away your Monday blues.

Writes and reports on lnformation Technology. Full stack on artificial intelligence, data science, and music.


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