It takes a lot to amaze me or even 'Wow' me at best.  Recently I attended a Cisco launch event where a new product was announced.  Let me tell you this, it truly "Sparked" my interest; no pun intended.  

Cisco introduced the Spark Board, an all-in-one collaboration device that can be a screen-sharing presentation tool, a digital whiteboard and a videoconferencing display. It’s designed to make it easier to set up and use connected conference rooms, taking the place of a hodgepodge of components that are managed and operated separately.   The best part is that there are no wires, dongles needed, or a remote control.  There are only two things you can use to control the Spark Board; 1) a user’s Smartphone device running the Cisco Spark app, and 2) the two tools you were born with…your Hands.    At first glance my thoughts were "it's a really big iPad on the wall" which to some extent…IT IS, but so much more.   The ease of you is amazing, plus it utilizes the Cisco Spark platform which is on the path to revolutionize the network.

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Cisco has had various Unified Communications and Telepresence tools for years,  Spark is now the centerpiece of the company’s collaboration portfolio. It’s a text messaging, voice, videoconferencing and presentation platform that runs completely in the CLOUD, with encryption, so meeting participants on the road can use all those functions.

Spark and Spark Board’s competition are as follows: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google’s Jamboard and Microsoft’s Surface Hub.

Here’s how the Spark Board works: A user comes into a meeting or conference room carrying a laptop with Spark and walks towards the screen. The devices find each other with ultrasonic signals and the Board displays a greeting. Then the user hits a Share button in Spark to start presenting on the screen.

Presenters can show slides, call up documents, and run video sessions on the Board from the Spark app. Remote participants can follow along on their mobile devices. Meanwhile, the digital whiteboard is interactive, so all participants can draw on it at the same time.

Some Highlights of the new Cisco Spark board are:

  • Includes a 4K video camera with a wide-angle
  • Wireless Network only, and contains only one wire…the Power Cable
  • Advanced whiteboard capabilities, where all the whiteboard work/drawings is saved automatically within Spark cloud
  • Cisco Webex is fully Integrated within Spark
  • 15 built-in microphones with beam-forming technology that can find and isolate the voice of the participant who’s currently talking.
  • The 4K display will be available in a 55-inch model and in a 70-inch version soon.
  • Spark Board eliminates projectors, speakerphones, video screens and whiteboards.  No need to have separate devices, all you need is the Spark Board
  • Spark Board Operating System is Android based, with an Apple iOS look and feel
  • No microphones are needed on the table
  • Spark Board will have the ability to interact with Existing Telepresence units connected to CUCM.
  • No remote control at all.
  • Touchscreen board that can only be operated by your fingers or a built-in stylus
  • Applications can be developed leveraging APIs

Cisco Spark was launched back in 2014 as a messaging app before being revamped in 2015 as an end-to-end collaboration solution.  We are in 2017 now, and look how much it has evolved, and I only foresee it getting better and better.   If you're not on the Spark train, you're just going to burn out!!   

Find me on Spark!