Cisco revolutionizing Video Conferencing

Recently Cisco announced two new room video systems called the Spark Room Kit and Spark Room Kit Plus.

The room kits are videoconferencing solutions that can be used with either premises-based infrastructure or cloud-delivered services such as WebEx and Spark. Each system is a single all-in-one device with camera(s), microphones and speakers. The primary difference between the two models is that the Room Kit has a single fixed-camera and the Room Kit Plus has four fixed-cameras that can cover a larger room. Despite the advanced technologies, the room kits are positioned for small to mid-sized rooms.

For decades, the best room video cameras have had pan, zoom and tilt. These not only added complexity but also distractions to a meeting. Even the automated solutions that use visual and audio cues to automatically switch and adjust cameras create distracting movements and sounds.

The new room kits offer this automation without any moving parts. Super high-resolution 5K camera sensors enable digital processing (virtual pan, tilt and zoom) without compromising the quality. The equipment is silent, yet automatically and seamlessly adjusts, switches and frames the video.

Even the remotes and the troubles associated with using them are gone. If you do need a remote, it’s on your smartphone. The system automatically wakes up when people enter the room, and it identifies them (and their meetings) via smartphone app pairing. In case participants forget their smartphone, the system can also be controlled by voice.

These room kits also have conversational aspects to them. Users can ask them to start or end the conference. This is delivered by a combination of cloud backend services and the Nvidia Tegra X1 chips that Cisco built into the kits.

Cisco intends to use facial recognition technology. Cisco says in its blog, the Room Kits have a high-performing face-detection module that tracks where people are and the angle they’re facing. Telemetry data on conferences include the number of participants (or faces) in a conference. Management can use this information for custom applications. Cisco plans to have each participant’s name displayed on screen. This will facilitate collaboration and improve analytics. With such features we can soon expect features such as automated calling and content delivery based on a meeting’s participants.

Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Logitech are all targeting unconnected rooms with new offers. With the increasing competition, we will see better features that deliver high-quality, next-gen meeting experiences to every room.