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Cisco Webex gets AI vision

New Real-Time Media Models in Webex promise crystal-clear audio and video regardless of bandwidth.

Cisco has announced a new AI strategy for Webex that will improve audio and video communication and collaboration. 

Unlike AI offerings that solely focus on text or documents, Webex will use AI for real-time communications, Cisco announced at the Webex One hybrid event that took place both online and in Anaheim, California, last week.

It also announced the launch of its new Webex AI Assistant, with capabilities that will bolster productivity and accuracy for customers. The Webex AI strategy and Webex AI Assistant will be applied across the full Webex portfolio: the Webex Suite, Cisco Collaboration devices, Webex Contact Center, Webex Connect and Webex Control Hub. 

Customers like McLaren Racing and Team DSM are already testing Webex’s new AI capabilities.

“We’re at the tipping point of a new era of hybrid work, with AI holding the key to helping us bridge the gap and enable us all to work and communicate to our full potential,” said Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager of Cisco security and collaboration. “Our Webex platform has long enabled our rapid pace of innovation… customers will benefit from AI being pervasive in every aspect of the Webex platform.”

Real-Time Media Models

Visual and audible cues like gestures and walking out of the room during a meeting provide invaluable context about human interactions. Cisco’s new Real-Time Media Models (RMMs) in Webex will enhance audio and video quality. The models have the ability to take multiple media streams and produce multiple outputs, such as people and object recognition and action analytics like movement and gestures. 

RMMs in Webex will also enable audio and video channels to be used as signals of context in traditional text-based capabilities like meeting summaries and highlights. By uniquely fusing together AI for text, audio and video, Webex users will benefit from rich real-time insights. For example, in the future, Webex may be able to recognise that a meeting participant stepped away from a meeting, and capture meeting notes to bring that person up to speed when they return.

New Webex AI Codec

People are regularly impacted by network impairments, which may have a direct impact on calls and meetings. For example, a user may experience disruption when connecting from their car, a hotel room, or a rural area with poor connectivity. Choppy audio or video often derails conversations and frustrates people — from meeting participants to customers calling into a business’ contact center.

Cisco is unveiling a new AI Codec in Webex, a new generative AI solution that will redefine real-time communication and solve the challenge of audio quality. The audio Codec aims to deliver crystal-clear audio regardless of network conditions, even in areas with spotty connections. Webex’s efficiency with its AI Codec allows for massive transmission redundancy to recover from network packet loss. 

Webex AI Codec also has built-in speech enhancement functions like noise removal, de-reverberation and bandwidth extension, to deliver unprecedented audio clarity.

Webex will similarly apply machine learning techniques to improve video quality using Super Resolution. It will deliver high-definition meetings with amazing video quality regardless of bandwidth conditions. 

Cisco provided the following information on new capabilities:

The newly launched Webex AI Assistant will power a robust set of capabilities that empower people to do their best work. It will also minimize work and costs for IT, ultimately driving business value. Webex AI Assistant will prompt users with questions, like “ask me about the meeting,” that users can respond to with typing sentences, such as “catch me up on the 15 minutes I missed in the meeting” or “catch me up on all the meetings I missed on Friday while I was on PTO,” to generate answers in real-time. Webex AI Assistant is already natively integrated into Cisco Collaboration devices and will span the Webex portfolio. New Webex AI Assistant capabilities will include:

  • Change Message Tone provides recommended changes to tone, format, phrasing in Webex Messaging and Slido. For example, the Webex AI Assistant may suggest changing a blunt response like “this isn’t good; rework the summary,” to a more professional option of “this is a fantastic document, but the upfront summary could use some improvement.”
  • Suggested Responses to messages for contact center agents responding to customers on digital channels. Suggestions of text are informed by context history and surrounding intelligence. 
  • Meeting Summaries will help users catch up on missed portions of meetings or entire meetings in real-time, with an easily digestible summary of what was missed. Meeting Summaries will be organised into chapters and highlights. With chapters, people can skip to various topics. For example, they may prefer to focus in-depth on the written portion of the finance discussion, then watch a brief video that summarises the focus of the meeting in its entirety.  
  • Message Summaries help people stay up to date by recapping unread messages or recapping spaces. They are customised, so a user can ask Webex AI Assistant to summarise messages from their boss in a space that contains messages from multiple people, for example. 
  • Slido Topic Summaries generate common topics shared in interactive Q&A and polling during virtual and hybrid events for participants to easily navigate what’s trending. 

These new capabilities are in various stages of availability, with shipping planned to begin before the end of 2023. 

Harnessing the Best Large Language Model Based on Use Case 

Understanding that certain Large Language Models (LLMs) will be better suited than others based on the use case and training, Webex will use a combination of best-of-breed models. Webex’s federated approach combines commercial, open source, Cisco-proprietary and select customer models to deliver the best possible experience. 

Cisco’s Approach to Responsible AI

Cisco has leveraged AI with natural language, audio intelligence, video intelligence and analytics for years—all designed with attention to security, privacy and human rights built in from the start. Realising AI’s significant promise while adhering to standards for transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, security and reliability is an ongoing mission at Cisco. This is the promise of Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework, which applies to our AI offerings. The Webex AI strategy and Webex AI Assistant capabilities are secure and align with Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework. 

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