Cisco set to acquire AI company MindMeld; to power conversational interfaces for Cisco’s collaboration suite

Cisco announced Thursday its intent to acquire privately held artificial intelligence (AI) company MindMeld to pioneer the development of a unique AI platform that enables customers to build intelligent and human-like conversational interfaces for any application or device. Through its proprietary machine learning (ML) technology, MindMeld delivers incredible accuracy to help users interact with voice and chat assistants in a more natural way.

Cisco is unlocking capabilities through AI that were unthinkable in the past — for example, empowering our customers to self-manage their network and data center, stay ahead of security attacks, embed intelligence at the edge, deliver predictive analytics, and revolutionize the workplace. AI and ML technology is already represented across Cisco’s portfolio, powering products like StealthwatchCisco Spark Board, and Cisco Spark Room Kit and features like SpeakerTrack and VoiceTrack across its video portfolio.

The Cisco Spark Board revolutionizes the way work is done by combining key requirements for team collaboration in the physical meeting room into a single device and connects it to the cloud for continuous workflow. It’s a wireless presentation screen, a digital whiteboard, and an audio and video conferencing system, all in one. The Cisco Spark Board helps teams collaborate in physical meeting rooms, but also securely connects to virtual meeting spaces to facilitate continuous workflow before, during, and after everyone has left the physical conference room.

The Cisco Spark Board draws its power from the Cisco Spark service, which combines meeting, messaging, calling, and new white boarding capabilities on any Cisco Spark app-enabled device. The Cisco Spark Board solution offers an integrated, secure, and comprehensive lifecycle approach to teamwork that is as yet unimagined, by any other solution on the market.

The Cisco Spark Board 55 is a fully self-contained system on a high-resolution 4K 55-inch LED screen. With an integrated 4K camera, embedded microphones, and a capacitive touch interface, the board brings intelligence, style, and usability to meeting rooms, from small to large. Designed with minimal wires, so as not to disrupt its elegance, Cisco’s latest collaboration device is touch-based for easy and rich team collaboration.

Since 2011, MindMeld has focused on building intelligent conversational interfaces for companies to interact with their customers across almost any device or application. They have become an industry leader in AI, providing natural language interfaces for such use cases as shopping online, ordering products or contacting customer support.

“At the core of MindMeld’s technology is a powerful machine learning platform that is able to ingest customer data and create a highly accurate and customized natural language model, tailored to each company’s industry and requirements,” wrote Rob Salvagno, a Cisco executive in a company blog post. “MindMeld also delivers a dialog manager that enables a computer to respond to user requests through chat and voice applications in a human-like fashion.”

With MindMeld, Cisco will enhance Collaboration suite, adding new conversational interfaces to our collaboration products starting with Cisco Spark. “I’m excited for the potential represented by the MindMeld team and their technology, coupled with Cisco’s market-leading collaboration portfolio, to enable us to create a user experience that is unlike anything that exists in the market today. Together, we will work to create the next generation collaboration experience,” Salvagno added.

The MindMeld team will form the Cognitive Collaboration team and report into the IoT and Applications group under Jens Meggers, senior vice president and general manager.

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