Cisco brings AI to conferencing with Spark Assistant

Digital assistant will use voice commands to perform common tasks in meetings

Cisco is aiming to take the headache out of meetings and conferencing,with the launch of a new AI-powered digital assistant for controlling its meeting-room hardware.

The new feature, Cisco Spark Assistant, will be integrated into the company's Cisco Spark conferencing equipment and used to perform tasks like joining a meeting, adjusting the volume and inviting participants via audio commands.

Cisco is planning to use initial customer interactions in order to gather data which can then be used to improve the service and introduce additional features, such as the ability to schedule meetings, compose meeting summaries and adding items to to-do lists.

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Announced at Cisco's Partner Summit in Dallas, the company is looking for early adopters to trial the feature towards the start of next year, before it rolls it out to its wider customer base.

The feature operates in a similar way to existing digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri, but Cisco says it's not planning to branch out to cover similar markets or use-cases. Instead, the company is planning to concentrate their efforts on meeting-room applications.

The technology behind the Spark Assistant comes from AI and language-processing specialists MindMeld. Cisco purchased the company back in May for the princely sum of $125 million.

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AI has become something of a hot button topic in modern IT, with the CBI advocating for the creation of a government commission in order to analyse the impact of AI and automation on UK jobs.

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