Cisco to sell enterprise version of $400 Bang & Olufsen earbuds
Make Webex more collaborative and secure, while you enjoy its AI additions and active noise cancellation
Cisco has co-branded a pair of high-end electronics vendor Bang & Olufsen's earbuds, and suggested they'll make Webex videoconferences more productive and secure.
The rebadged buds are dubbed Bang & Olufsen Cisco 950. You can see them at left in the image below. At right are the upmarket audio brand's own BEOPLAY EX – more about them after the pic.
Cisco will start to sell its buds in November, at an unspecified price. The Register suggests they'll be at least $399 – the price of the BEOPLAY EX on which they're based. The BEOPLAY EX are billed as offering "Comfort that never gives up. Sound that always picks you up" and capable of bringing you "closer to the artists you love – wherever you go, whatever you do." The buds include active noise cancelling and a charging case – the same features as can be found in Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro.
The networking giant describes its collab-o-buds as "Offering a trendy minimalistic design in Black Anthracite showcasing luxury materials, the best sound quality, and features that make your work day a little more engaging."
Cisco also suggests they make videoconferencing just a little more secure, because the buds can be managed with the same Webex Control Hub it provides to manage collaboration hardware. "Simplify deployments, track inventory, troubleshoot issues, and push new firmware to ensure users have the latest features and enjoy optimal performance," gushes Cisco's product blurb.
The buds are vanilla Bluetooth. The Register asked if they’ll connect to personal devices and was told "They are platform agnostic and are able to quickly and simultaneously pair with both Android and iOS devices without compromising sound quality."
You're now over 300 words into a story about announcements made by a major tech company at its annual gabfest, in this case WebexOne – and we're yet to mention AI.
But you knew it was coming: Webex has created a "real-time media model" for its flagship vidchat service. The model analyses chats in real time so that if you step away, your device considers what's being said or indicated and offers to generate you a summary. Similar tech – named the Webex AI Assistant – will use generative AI to summarize a meeting you missed entirely, or catch you up on a long chat thread.
Another AI offering is an audio codec that The Register was told requires between one and six kilobits per second to deliver flawless real-time voice transmission – down from the 16kbit/sec required for the widely used Opus codec for excellent quality.
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Cisco also wants you to consider how vidchats might feel if you hired a director and seven camera operators. The result is "cinematic meetings," AI employed to detect who is speaking in a vidchat, and the best camera or microphone with which to capture them. The presence of Nvidia silicon in Cisco devices makes this possible. Cisco has also allowed users to bring their own screens, instead of having to acquire Cisco-branded kit.
Cisco told The Register all of the above AI will never leak corporate data to a model – a clarification likely inserted into a presentation we attended to avoid messes like Zoom's privacy SNAFU from August or Webex's own unauthorized telemetry transmission traumas.
Maybe AI can also help to explain to your boss how you lost a pair of $399 earbuds. ®