IBM and Ricoh are seeking to revolutionise teleconferencing by launching an interactive whiteboard that leverages the power of IBM's Watson supercomputer and its artificial intelligence. The whiteboard can translate verbal communications in real time into a multitude of languages.
IBTimes UK was at IBM's global Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich, Germany, to get a first look at the new technology. The Intelligent Workplace Solution is designed to replace all existing teleconferencing technology. Users won't need a TV monitor or any existing video conferencing tools, just the whiteboard, which comes with Voice over IP (VoIP) capabilities.
Meetings hosted via the internet will become collaborative affairs, with users on one end sketching out designs and concepts that the other can see immediately.
While interactive whiteboard products already exist, Ricoh has has teamed up with IBM to differentiate their offering.
IBM Watson's cognitive computing power enables the whiteboard to understand verbal commands, take notes, and even translate what the meeting participants are saying in real time.
While one user speaks, their voice is sent to the cloud for processing by Watson. Within seconds, each party will receive a translation of any dialogue spoken in their chosen language as a text transcript on the screen.
The whiteboard can log everything that goes on in the meeting, from attendance to key agenda items, and reminds meeting participants if they've forgotten to discuss anything. Voice commands can be used to move through presentation slides, and side discussions can be displayed on the same whiteboard at the same time as the main meeting.
The interactive whiteboard is just one example of IBM's mission to create an artificially intelligent Internet of Things (IoT), whereby connected devices send data to Watson, and machine learning means that computers can work hand-in-hand with humans to detect new patterns from unstructured data to make more intelligent decisions.
Ricoh's senior vice president for services, Mona Abutaleb, told IBTimes UK: "How can you take a meeting, which is something that many people don't want to do, and make it useful? Our focus is always on the end user and managing data. If you think about the cost of a business trip, when you think about the cost of the airline, the cost of the hotel, the cost of the person's time, and you think about the number of meetings. We often feel compelled to travel to meetings – the interactive whiteboard takes that away."
"The whiteboards are affordable and more importantly they deliver value, particularly to cost-conscious businesses. This takes away the cost of travel – I can see you as clearly on the whiteboard as I can see you in person and we can talk at any time, at any hour. We can pull up data that I'm not carrying with m, as it's connected to our network."