Cisco Aims New Video Tools at the Individual

At Cisco Live, the company unveils two new desktop systems, the DX70 and DX80, and a cloud-based service.

Cisco Systems officials, who earlier this year have rolled out offerings to make video conferencing better for businesses of varying sizes, are now looking at collaboration at a more personal level.

At the Cisco Live 2014 event in San Francisco May 19, the giant networking vendor unveiled two video systems designed to sit on the desktop, and another personal video communications offering that sits in the cloud.

The new products are designed to put high-quality video collaboration tools into the hands of anyone who needs them, not just a company's executives, according to Angie Mistretta, director of collaboration endpoint solutions marketing at Cisco.

"There's the idea that the enterprise-quality experience is only available to C-level [company officials]," Mistretta told eWEEK. "We want to prove that that's not true."

The new offerings are the latest moves by Cisco this year to build out its video conferencing portfolio and improve the user experience for all users. In March, company officials unveiled new solutions that customers can use in conference rooms of all sizes, including three integrated TelePresence video systems, a new Business Edition 6000 packaged offering for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and enhancements to its Hosted Collaboration Solution. Company officials said they want to disprove the false choice between performance and price.

In April, Cisco introduced an initiative called Project Spring Roll, which brings what officials call "augmented collaboration" to the high-end TelePresence portfolio.

Now, the company wants to enhance the video conferencing experience for individual users. At Cisco Live, the vendor introduced two new desktop systems, the DX70 and DX80. The systems, which run Google's Android mobile operating system, are designed to bring together the range of collaboration tools that now sit on users' desks—from voice-only phones to Webcams to monitors—into a single product.

"With this, you'll have all the collaboration [tools] you'll need on one device," Mistretta said.

For workers, the result will be a more consistent experience across all collaboration modes, and a workspace that is significantly less cluttered, she said. Organizations will find that it will be less costly and complex to manage and support fewer devices. With Android on the systems, Cisco also is offering developers a known architecture that include well-known APIs, which will enable in-house and third-party developers to more easily create software for the DX70 and DX80.

The DX80 comes with a 23-inch high-definition touch-screen display and Cisco's new Intelligent Audio technology, which is designed to reduce distracting background noises, from a barking dog to surrounding co-workers. The DX70 offers a 14-inch HD touch-screen display, and both come with Cisco's Intelligent Proximity technology, which enables users to pair their DX displays with their mobile devices and move the calls from one device to another while they're on the move. They can be used as displays for tablets and notebooks running not only Android, but also Apple's iOS and MacOS, Linux and Microsoft's Windows, according to officials.

The systems will ship in June, starting at $3,990 for the DX80 and $2,750 for the DX70.

For the cloud, Cisco has created what officials are calling collaboration meeting rooms, or CMRs. The CMRs essentially bring telepresence-quality video conferencing to Cisco's WebEx online meeting technology to offer users a personal video collaboration space in the cloud, officials said. Users can host meetings that enable others to join via any device they want, including standards-based endpoints from third parties or soft clients likes Microsoft's Lync.

CMRs give workers a great deal of flexibility, from setting up a meeting to inviting participants to deciding what endpoint they want to use, Mistretta said.

"Customers should be able to deliver this experience any way," she said.

Cisco also is rolling out the IP Phone 8800 Series phones, which not only offer an enhanced audio experience but also include USB ports on some models for charging mobile devices and Intelligent Proximity for Mobile Voice for not only importing contacts and call history but also to move calls from their mobile devices to the 8800 Series desk phones.