Buckle up for meetings on the road as Cisco brings Webex to Audi autos

Have you considered taking up cycling?

Nothing says Happy Friday like news that Cisco is trying to help your boss pry yet more of your time and personal space from you: the Webex collaboration app will be equipped in select Audi cars from next year.

The networking biz has said it is working with the Volkswagen Group's software developer CARIAD and Samsung subsidiary HARMAN to create the "first app for hybrid work" in vehicles from 2024.

So not only are you faced with endless meetings in the home office, the office office, and just about anywhere else you can take a laptop or a phone, now there'll be one fewer place to hide. Instead of resisting the urge to shout at reckless drivers, you'll be holding your tongue tight to not tell John in accounts that he shouldn't be extending the meeting by contesting the contents of slide 50.

Cisco wants you to know that the modern place of work is no longer "confined to a single space or device."

"We're on a mission to transform the connected car into another extension of the hybrid workplace," said Cisco's Jeetu Patel, exec veep and General Manager for Security & Collaboration. "Our work with leading manufacturers like Audi will empower customers with a safe and seamless way to stay connected and be productive regardless of where or how you're working."

The Webex app, which was developed by CARIAD and HARMAN, will be available to download via the in-vehicle Audi Application Store on new production models of the Audi A4, A5, Q5, A6, A7, A8 Q8 e-tron and e-tron GT in Europe, North America, Mexico, and other regions.

We're told that allowing for flexible work cultures presents people with "access to elevated work experiences that can be personalized to fit their lifestyles." And there was us thinking technology was supposed to make our lives easier, more productive, and less stressful. Go meetings!

Before you think, "Come on, El Reg, driving and chatting to the boss and my peers while racing to a customer site isn't the safest way to conduct one's self." And you'd be right. Luckily, Cisco considered this.

"With features designed to prioritize safety, Webex goes into audio-only mode when the car is in transit to ensure that drivers can participate in meetings without taking their eyes off the road. When parked, drivers can take advantage of Webex's full immersive collaboration experience and are able to view meeting participants, shared content and closed captioning."

Phew. Oh, and it comes with added AI because why not. These AI-enhanced meetings will, we're told, provide "best-in-class noise removal and voice optimization" so that drivers can be heard "without disruptive background sounds" including "roadway noise or construction."

Ah meetings, you've got to love 'em. According to historic studies, meetings keep growing in length with company execs often spending almost 23 hours a week locked in them, up from 10 hours in the 1960s. They are intended to foster collaboration and creativity – and some undoubtedly do. Other can be joyless, grinding affairs that reduce productivity and zap morale.

So there you have it, people. The toilet is officially the last place where the dreaded meeting cannot take place, at least not with video enabled.

Where's the weirdest place you've ever held or joined a meeting? Are you excited about the paradigm shift in comms that in-vehicle Webex can bring? Let us know in the comments. ®

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