Cisco Spark Gets a Voice

Cisco integrates technology from its MindMeld acquisition to provide a voice-assistant for collaboration and meetings.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Nov 3, 2017
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In the consumer space, the use of voice assistants has become increasingly common with Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. In the enterprise space, voice assistants haven't been as common, but that's now starting to change thanks to Cisco.

Cisco announced its new Spark Assistant on Nov. 2, bringing voice commands to its collaboration and meeting hardware. The new technology came to Cisco from artificial intelligence vendor MindMeld, which Cisco acquired in May 2017.

Over the last several months, MindMeld's technology has been enhanced to enable the new Cisco Spark integration.

"We continued to innovate on the MindMeld technology by continuing to train the machine learning systems, applying our deep knowledge of meetings, and began incorporating it into the Cisco Collaboration portfolio," Tim Tuttle, CTO of the Cognitive Collaboration Group and former CEO and founder of MindMeld, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

The new Spark Assistant provide a number of hands-free capabilities to enable meeting participants to do different actions. Among the different commands that Spark Assistant enables are:

  • Start your meeting without any typing or dialing:
    • 
"Hey, Spark. Join the meeting."
    • 
"Hey, Spark. I want to start the meeting."  

    • "Hey, Spark. Let's get started."


  • Effortlessly join your own Cisco® WebEx® personal meeting room or one of your co-workers' rooms:
    • 
"Hey, Spark. Call my meeting room." 

    • "Hey, Spark. Call Victor's PMR."
    • 
"Hey, Spark. Call Michael's meeting room."


  • Quickly call anyone in your organization without lifting a finger:
    • "Hey, Spark. Call Sydney."


  • Control your Cisco Spark endpoint without getting out of your chair:
    • 
"Hey, Spark. End the meeting."

Tuttle noted that the capabilities of Spark Assistant will be enhanced in the future.

"As we expand the capabilities of Spark Assistant to do higher levels of meeting AI, it will tap into other sources of enterprise AI as appropriate," Tuttle said.

From a hardware perspective, Tuttle noted that initially Spark Assistant will run on the Cisco Spark Room 70 but it will also be available across all Cisco Spark clients and hardware devices over time.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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