Cisco Ships Breakthrough All-in-One Cloud-Based Meeting Room Product to End the Pain of Meetings

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 24, 2017 – At Cisco, we want to end miserable meetings. That means we need to clean up the cacophony of dongles, wires, and outdated hardware in most conference rooms today. We also need to solve problems that people experience as they get ready to meet (Where’s the agenda? Who has the latest presentation?) and when they need to follow up after.

To put an end to miserable meetings, you can’t just bolt on a new device or create a new app. Solving the pain of meetings means building breakthrough new hardware that is designed, developed and deployed together with new software in the cloud. It must all be dead simple to use, comprehensive, and priced affordably so more people can use it. Today, Cisco delivers exactly that with Cisco Spark™ Board and Cisco Spark Meetings.

Cisco Spark Board: New All-in-One Meeting Room Product

While we’re more connected than ever, surprisingly many meeting rooms have just an old speakerphone. When they do have more technology, it often doesn’t work, is hard to use or breaks down. Wires and remotes litter the table. No wonder meetings can feel like a waste of time—we can’t fully engage and get things done with all of the disconnected technology getting in the way.

We created the Cisco Spark Board to clean up the conference-room chaos and connect physical rooms to the virtual spaces where so much work gets done. The Cisco Spark Board is an incredible, cloud-powered all-in-one device. It gives you:

1. A wireless presentation device that works for everyone, everywhere.
Walk up to any Cisco Spark Board in the world – yours or not – and with one click you can share. This is unprecedented; we are creating a global, worldwide network of workspaces, which you can access from anywhere. As you approach, the board will recognize and greet you. No Bluetooth or special WiFi or network connection required. You control it all from your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile phone. This is screen sharing that just works. We achieved it through a tight integration with the Cisco Spark platform plus groundbreaking new ultrasound wireless pairing technology. Remote controls are a thing of the past.

2. An interactive digital whiteboard that everyone can edit.
Whiteboards are where some of the best ideas take root. But there are a lot problems with traditional whiteboards. Beyond snapping a photo, it’s difficult to save and share your work. And that photo doesn’t do much good if you want to go back and change something later. Past attempts at digital whiteboards have tried to solve such problems. But the experience has been terrible, so adoption has not been great.

Cisco Spark Board sets the bar high. It makes sure your content is shareable, editable, and safe.

Top features include:

– Working remotely? Not a problem. Anyone can make her mark in real time—even from a mobile phone. In fact, as long as they have the Cisco Spark app, all participants can simultaneously whiteboard.

– It automatically saves your hard work to a space that the whole team shares. Take a break and pick up where you left off later—you can keep iterating.

– Want to all be on a video call while you whiteboard? You can do that, too.

– Thanks to Cisco Spark’s industry-leading crypto, every stroke you make is safe from prying eyes.

3. A theater-quality conferencing device.
Say goodbye to that old speakerphone. The Cisco Spark Board gives you theater-quality audio and video at an attractive price. Its 4K camera gives a broad, crisp view of the room without being obtrusive. The incredible microphone array and VoiceTrack technology ensures that your message will come through crystal-clear on the other end. Setup is as simple as mounting it to the wall and plugging it in. For our partners, this expands the market for video conferencing dramatically. For our customers, this gets great technology into every room.

Introducing Cisco Spark Meetings

Another reason people hate meetings is because getting the work done leading up to it and coming out of it can be a real hassle. People arrive unprepared, they didn’t get an agenda or no one seems to have the latest presentation.

The meeting itself is one point in a longer series of interactions. We need a great experience that supports this whole flow. That’s why today we announce Cisco Spark Meetings. By adding some of the popular meeting capabilities from Cisco WebEx®, it in essence extends the meeting to include the time before and after—and in the process creates a fundamentally new way to meet. This is all made possible by the tight integration of hardware, software, apps and the cloud. And because it is delivered by the Cisco Spark platform, it gives the security and reliability that enterprises demand.

Highlights include:

  • Cisco Spark Meetings is your Cisco Spark Board in your pocket. You can whiteboard together—even if no one has a Cisco Spark Board. We’ve built it right into all of our Cisco Spark apps.
  • Schedule a meeting in the app, and you’ll automatically get what you need to prepare for the meeting. It creates a team space so you can create the agenda, get all the right people involved, share content, and chat back and forth. Chances are good that the meeting itself will be shorter and better; in the end you may not even need to meet at all.
  • We’ve designed it to be incredibly simple—one touch starts the meeting.
  • Brainstorming throughout the meeting can be captured and easily saved within the Cisco Spark space.
  • Post meeting comments, follow-up action items or notes from the meeting in the same space. Everything needed for continued collaboration is in one place.
  • We have also totally changed the way you navigate in the Cisco Spark app. Take a tour of our new activities-based user experience to see how it makes it easier than ever to get things done. The activity-based workflow will be the same on all of your devices: desktop, mobile phone, tablet, Cisco Spark Board. Use one, know the other.

“Our philosophy is the best meeting is no meeting at all,” said Rowan Trollope, the SVP and GM of the IoT and Applications Group at Cisco. “We’ve shown that people who use Cisco Spark have fewer meetings—and when they do meet, it’s better. You can’t schedule innovation. It happens on its own schedule. Cisco Spark—and now the Cisco Spark Board—are all about giving you the tools to make that magic happen.”

“We are always looking to explore new opportunities to enhance our global teams communication, which is why we are launching our new Innovation Center with Cisco Spark and Cisco Spark Boards,” says Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Maritime & Newbuilding, of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “These transformative tools will enable Royal Caribbean to develop a work culture to drive innovation through collaboration and continue to push the envelope to build industry leading vessels.”

Pricing and Availability

You can get the 55-inch version of the Cisco Spark Board from Cisco partners at the end of this month for a suggested price of $4,990. The monthly subscription will cost $199 per month. The monthly subscription covers the cloud service, help desk and software upgrades. You can also buy through the Cisco Spark Flex Plan. We’ll make a 70-inch version of the board available later this year for a suggested price of $9,990.