Home Peripherals Cisco demos new collaboration device

Cisco demos new collaboration device

Cisco has launched a three-in-one collaboration device that includes a 55” digital whiteboard, video conferencing and a wireless display screen at a fraction of the cost of other dedicated video conferencing and meeting room collaboration products.

The company gave a demonstration of the Cisco Spark Board on a new 55” “oversized tablet” at its new Sydney office. Cisco has managed to combine the Spark Board with the best elements of its cloud-based WebEx meetings software — called Cisco Spark Meetings — and make it hardware agnostic so Windows, Android, Linux, macOS and iOS devices can all be used.

At first glance, it looks like a giant iPad. It can be wall- or stand-mounted. The home screen belies its scope and shows three icons for call, whiteboard, and input.

Spark stand

But the real power is up in the Spark Cloud that means continuous innovation adding more features as users request them.

The technical specifications:

  • Screen: 55”, 4K, LED edge lit, +/- 89° (178°) viewing angle, 4000:1 contrast.
  • Camera: 4K @60fps, f/2.8, fixed lens, infinite focus; Horizontal field of view: 86°, Vertical field of view: 55°, tilt: -25°.
  • Microphones: 12 with intelligent voice tracking, video lip syncing, auto gain control, and automatics noise reduction.
  • Touch: currently four but will go to 10-point capacitance touch.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi AC, dual band; Bluetooth, Ethernet; HDMI input (up to HD res); audio out; 2 x USB (not enabled for data yet). Users can “cast” to it from their Spark enabled device.
  • Size/Weight: 814 x 1283 x 49 mm x 39.8kg plus stand.
  • Interface: touchscreen or using Cisco Spark app-enabled personal device.
  • Cost/Availability: US$4990 for 55”. A 70” version is coming soon at US$9990. There is a monthly subscription to the Spark Cloud of US$199. Available from April 2017.

The demonstration involved using a range of devices to join the Spark cloud and it all showed on the Spark board. Users could all draw on the whiteboard (local and remote) and annotation of documents is coming.

Cisco Spark devices

All Spark Cloud data is encrypted and leaves no “footprint” on the device. Data can be called up from any Spark-enabled device.

It is unlikely to replace larger dedicated teleconference set-ups but can be used in “huddle-rooms” and small boardrooms where one needs to connect and collaborate with a local and remote team.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!