Plantronics has an interesting new headset that appears to have it all: wireless, active noise cancelling, and dual-ear. In a previous post I talked about distinguishing music-first and voice-first headphones. With the Voyager Focus, Plantronics may have eliminated the issue. I haven’t tried these yet, but the specs are intriguing. I’ve always preferred single ear headsets for voice because i like to be able to hear what’s going on around me. However, with the Plantronics Backbeat Pro (music-first/no boom) Plantronics introduced a clever new feature called OpenMic which uses the mics that are necessary for active noise cancelling. OpenMic has a mode that brings the outside noise in. Thus, these headsets offer an ideal isolation mode for noisy environments (dual ear + active noise cancellation) and the ability to engage with the outside world when in OpenMic mode.
Active noise cancellation works best with constant background noises – like jet engines, cocktail lounges, and call centers.
Like all good voice headsets, the Voyager Focus UC has a boom mic. However, for some reason some people like the mic on the left side (weird). Plantronics allows the mic to flip around and the headset can be worn either way. This will alarm the music-first crowd that must have the Left on the left side and the Right on the right side. Fear not: headset sensors know which way is left and right and the unit flips its electronics. – not just the audio paths, but everything like the volume up/down button. As with other Plantronics headsets, the sensors add a lot of value. The most useful feature is wear detection – take off the headset and it mutes the mic.
This is a BlueTooth headset. For PCs and Macs, they recommend using the USB Bluetooth dongle that comes with it. Mobile devices can connect directly.
I had my first meeting with Ezuce, it’s an interesting next generation cloud UC/video company. I call it next generation because the company is leveraging Amazon, Google, and IBM to rapidly build out its global cloud infrastructure. I met with the CEO and Co-Founder Jerry Stabile who took me through the eZuce experience. With some user experience (formerly openUC with 350k user licenses), recent acquisitions (Evogh), and WebRTC technologies Ezuce created a fairly robust offering.
The ViewMe Cloud Service is the VCaaS offering. It has all the basic features I expected, but one feature in particular caught my attention: “Aparte” Communications. Most UC/Video solutions have group chat, and most of those have private chats as well – but these are all IM. Aparte mode allows you to establish a private audio path to converse with someone during a broader conference. You can completely mute the larger conference or continue to listen to it – perfect for private wise cracking. ViewMe also supports video recording and H.323 for room system interop.
Ezuce is also in the process of launching its UniteMe hosted UC offering. The Unite offering has desktop, mobile, and web interfaces for IM, UM, and call control. There’s also specialized offerings such as ReachMe which is aimed for Help Desks. All services are available retail and wholesale.
Genband Makes Smart Office Smarter with Vidyo
Genband’s Smart Office is one the most robust WebRTC-based UC offerings I’ve seen. Now Genband turns it up a notch by turning to Vidyo VidyoWorks. Vidyo makes some great enterprise video solutions, but what really sets the company apart is its Video as a platform capabilities (VidyoWorks) which offers rich APIs and SDKs. This allows companies like Genband (and Mitel, Fuze, Barclays, and more) to create branded solutions with Vidyo inside. Genband is using VidyoWorks to give Smart Office better quality, scalability, mobility, and interoperability. The result is a very powerful lightweight video collaboration solution.
Genband’s Smart Office solution is browser-ready with SVC benefits (extremely tolerant with OTT and network congestion). Conferences include group chat, active speaker display, robust moderator controls, dynamic screen sharing, and support for audio dial-in. It’s a win for both companies as Genband has a richer, better product – particularly for mobile users while Vidyo adds another VidyoWorks customer (its revised strategy) to a growing list.