If you haven’t been following the enterprise space of late, you may well have missed the memo that collaborative white boards are the hot newness. Microsoft has one and Google has one, and really, it was only a matter of time before those stalwarts of workplace hardware Cisco got in on the fun.
As its name implies, the Cisco Spark Board is built around the company’s proprietary cloud-based Spark service, leveraging mobile devices running the app for remote collaborations. The technology also autopairs, making the setup process less of a headache
The company says it opted to run everything through Spark (aside from all of the obvious proprietary reasons) for additional security purposes – opting for the technology instead of Bluetooth, which easily penetrates meeting room walls and glass.
The board connects via WiFi or through a hardwired connection, using screen sharing on a connected computer or mobile device through spark. Like the competition, the system works for collaborative whiteboard-style note taking, meeting scheduling and does video conferencing by way of an on-board 4K camera and a 12 microphone array featuring on-board VoiceTrack technology, which zooms in on specific speakers.
The Spark Board works with fingers or a stylus and saves automatically. The system is priced to compete with Google’s Jamboard (which puts it significantly below Microsoft’s $8,999 Surface Hub) at $4,990 for the 55-inch version due out at the end of the month. A 70-inch version is due out before year’s end, priced at $9,990.
You’ll also want to factor in the cost of Cisco’s Spark Flex software plan, a subscription service that runs $199 a month.