Cisco is introducing new features and devices for Webex that aim to improve the videoconferencing experience, help remote workers stay connected and employees return to the office safely.
The new features come as a new global survey finds the overwhelming majority of workers are uncomfortable about returning to the office, a future dependency on remote work and a desire of intelligent technology to help improve the workplace experience.
In a statement, Jeetu Patel, senior vice president and general manager of security and application at Cisco, said hybrid work is here to stay.
“Our mission is to make the Webex experience 10x better than in-person interactions,” Patel says. “And when people do have in-person interactions, we want Webex to make those experiences 10x better than before, with our deeply integrated collaboration devices and software stack.
“The innovations we announced today are a great step forward in providing seamless collaboration to empower remote work in a secure way while also enabling a smart hybrid work experiences to enable safe returns to work.”
New Webex Meeting Features
In Webex meetings, users in room lobbies will have more options to personalize how they appear in the meeting, including an enlarged preview of their video feed and the ability to select from new virtual backgrounds so users can continue to keep their home lives private from coworkers and customers.
Cisco also redesigned the user interface to give users more accessible control without covering shared content or video feeds. Users simply need to hover over other participants to chat with them and can change their audio or video settings by hovering over their own feed.
Users can also now hide participants who don’t have their video turned on.
By the end of October, Cisco will integrate audio filtering technology from BabbleLabs into its meeting platform to help mask background noise and enhance the speaker’s voice.
Many of Cisco’s new announcements were made possible thanks to three new integrations with digital signage company Appspace, unified communications analytics company Vypota and wayfinding company MazeMap.
New Webex Devices
For Webex devices, Cisco is bringing more environmental sensors to its collaboration gear to provide more data points so the IT department can keep meetings safe and ensure social distancing guidelines are being met.
Along with to sensors that can detect ambient noise levels and count the number of people in a meeting room, additional sensors will collect data on room temperature, humidity, air quality and light.
The sensors’ people-counting abilities are also enhanced with machine learning technology to help companies maintain compliance with health guidelines.
The company also announced two versions of its new Webex Room Navigator, a device that contains all of its new sensors announced above.
The devices can be placed either inside or outside meeting rooms for room booking and provide deep data for IT and facility managers.
The devices can be voice activated to avoid touching and provide alerts for social distancing, cleaning schedules and more.
Both versions come equipped with a digital signage mode that allow users to convey important information.
Cisco also announced the Webex Control Hub will now provide historical insights into both room utilization and room environment metrics like unused rooms, median occupancy across all rooms and ambient noise levels to help optimize room usage.