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On the interactive web conference, nobody will hear you are a dog

Cisco's WebEx to gain sound-screening powers so you clam up at noisy moments

By Simon Sharwood, 11 Aug 2017

Cisco's updating the old internet anonymity maxim - "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" - by training its WebEx conferencing wares to recognise sounds.

The company says that "in the next couple of weeks, sounds like knocking, typing, sirens, and barking dogs are classified as background noise by WebEx."

Artificial intelligence techniques, applied to Cisco's immense collection of past WebEx sessions, has been applied to detect the sounds of interruption.

The enhanced service won't block those sounds, but will pop up a suggestion to mute your microphone so that other meeting participants can't hear you.

Sadly, the company says the changes will only work "if you have called into the meeting from your computer", which probably means the dog-detection software won't work on WebEx apps. So scratch the idea of pretending to participate in a meeting while actually walking your dog and using a WebEx app.

The idea has merit: plenty of folk as Reg operatives to participate in web meetings, and there's always someone that mucks it up for everyone else by typing or working in a noisy environment. Automated prompts to shut off microphones should improve matters.

As will the siren detectors: if they're coming to take you away, it's nice to know that your colleagues won't know too far in advance.

Users will do well to note that muting sound won't stop video from flowing, as BBC reporter Rob Kelly so memorably learned in early 2017. ®

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