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R.I.P. Conference Room Projection Cable

- December 9, 2016 - 24 Comments

We’ve all been there.

You walk into a conference room, and you have a simple task – project your laptop screen onto the screen at the end of the conference room. Yet, until now, this simple task has been really hard.

The first step is the hunt for the cable. Sometimes it’s right there on the table. Sometimes it’s buried in one of these hidden nooks in fancy conference rooms and you have to flip open all of them to find the cable. Often it’s on the floor, underneath the conference room table or hidden behind the TV or screen. Sometimes, you find more than one of these cables in the room. Then you have to play guessing games about which one connects to the projector and which one connects to the video conferencing unit.

If you do manage to find the stupid cable, your next dilemma is dealing with the fact that it probably doesn’t reach to your seat at the conference table. So, you have to move seats and eject someone just to sit next to the cable. Some rooms have the opposite problem – the cable is so long that you feel like a cowboy, unrolling a lasso to make it reach across the table, knocking over coffee cups and displacing papers.

But the problems don’t end there! The next trick is the dongle game. The cable is VGA but your laptop only has HDMI; or the cable is HDMI and you only have display port. Maybe if you’re lucky, the cable has a keyring with dongles attached. So, you flip through them until you find the right one. Now, just as you reach the moment of truth – you plug in and – nothing! What now? You need to find the source selector for the projector or screen to manage to tell it to actually show the output of your laptop.

It’s time for this cable to meet its end.

I’m pleased to announce that today, we’ve shipped an update to Cisco Spark that will once and for all end the evil tyranny of the conference-room projection cable.

How does it work? Easy. With Cisco Spark on your laptop (now supported on our Mac and Windows clients), just walk into any Cisco Spark enabled conference room. Your laptop will automatically pair with the video system, and the Spark app will show an icon with the name of the video unit and a button to share your screen. Press the button. That’s it! Your laptop will go into presentation mode and the contents will show up on the screen.

spark conf-room share

 

This one-click-magic is enabled by no less than four innovations we’ve built into the solution.

  • It works with your laptop on any network – even cellular. There are other solutions in-market for wireless sharing, but they typically require the laptop to be on the same LAN as the video system. In an era of BYO devices, guest wifi, and network segmentation, this is less and less the case. With Cisco Spark, your laptop doesn’t need to be on the same LAN as the Cisco Spark room system. It only needs to be able to reach the Internet.
  • It works in any Cisco Spark conference room – not just those in your own company. Think about it: If you visit someone else’s office, you can plug in your HDMI cable into their projectors. With Cisco Spark, the same is true. Walk into any conference room with a Cisco Spark room system, and the wireless-sharing feature works.
  • The projector app and meeting app are the same. Many modern projectors in conference rooms offer downloadable apps you can use to project your screen without plugging in. However, if you want to share your screen into an online meeting, you also need a meeting app. With Cisco Spark, they’re one and the same. The Cisco Spark Room OS endpoint serves as both a wireless projector and video-conferencing system, and the associated Cisco Spark app also accomplishes both goals. You use the same app to project your laptop onto the screen as you would to join an online meeting.
  • Go there to show there. A common concern with wireless projection technologies is whether someone can project content onto the screen without being in the conference room. An HDMI cable does have the benefit that only someone in the room can project content onto the screen. Competitors that offer wireless presentation apps for their projectors often use cumbersome codes to ensure your presence in the room. Again, Cisco Spark makes it easy. Cisco Spark’s wireless presentation-sharing feature uses our unique ultrasonic proximity technology. With it, users can project their screens only if they are physically within the conference room – no codes required.

Oh, did I mention that this feature is available for both free users and paid users? Of course, someone needs to have purchased the room system, but once it’s there, any Cisco Spark user can share wirelessly.

I’m really excited that we’re finally able to bring this feature to the world. I’ve been using it internally for many months now and it’s a game changer.

Happy sharing. And, to our old friend the projector cable, may you rest in peace.

Cisco Spark Event 1.24.17

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24 Comments

  1. What about guests visiting the office that don't have Spark and need to share a presentation?

    • They can just download Cisco Spark for free at www.ciscospark.com

  2. Cisco Spark is a free download for anyone. We put a little tent card on the middle of the meeting table.

  3. Not bad

  4. Is the content being tunneled via Spark PoP. Is the frame rate the same as Proximity?

      Yes, the content is being sent via the Spark Cloud. This is how we are able to make it work when the user and the video unit are not on the same network. When used in concert with Hybrid media Services we can avoid the cloud hairpin for cases when the user is on the campus network.

  5. Why no Linux support? Maybe only 10 Linux user per year will use it, but that shouldn't matter. More and more people are moving away from Windows and iOS.

      Like all things, its about finite resources. Our solution for Linux is our web client, which works very well. Unfortunately, this particular feature doesnt work on the web due to its requirement for low level mic access. Please provide feedback via the other apps about your desire for Linux. We take user feedback into account to help with backlog prioritization. Thanks!

      • You could try StarLeaf, they have a Linux client

  6. Can we do a share screen from Spark with a Telepresence endpoint registered to CUCM or is proximity still the option? We currently use CMR with our Telepresence endpoints, when is it recommended to move to Spark for Telepresence registration instead of CUCM?

      For a premise connected endpoint, you cannot share from the Spark app. The Spark app will prompt the user to use the standalone Intelligent Proximity App. Alternative is to update the software on your TP units and registe them to the cloud. Whether you should or shouldn't depends on your use cases and there is no universal answer to that.

  7. What resolutions and frame rates will this support?

  8. Can Cisco Spark do 30 to 60 fps for HD videos wirelessly?

      Not yet. The focus is on classic PPT type of sharing.

  9. What is a "Cisco Spark room system"? Where do I get information abot that if I would like to set up one?

      Here is some information on them: https://support.ciscospark.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2349263-cisco-spark-room-systems-guide We sell them through partners - contact your Cisco Partner for more info on pricing.

      • Pleased to see support for Spark has grown beyond SX10. Support for MX range will be very welcome. Is interop between Spark and 3rd party platforms on the roadmap? Has Acano's technology been integrated into Spark cloud?

    Not to mention, my clumsy self won't be tripping over the cables - or having to crawl under the table to find where it got disconnected!

  10. an enjoyable read and informative, thanks, Jon!

    Does Cisco Spark stream allow selective application sharing like a video clip or audio clip? Does Cisco spark ensure the secure connectivity to enterprise network for only authentic users?

      The wireless sharing feature is the entire screen, not selective - like plugging in the hdmi cable. Cisco Spark also uses authentication - including support for corporate SSO - for all users connecting to our cloud services, and that authentication is required to access the wireless sharing service.

    We already support interop between spark and third party platforms for a bunch of use cases. From any cloud connected video endpoint or Spark app you can dial external SIP URLs; you can join third party meeting services or place calls that way. Similarly, spark users are assigned SIP URLs for making and receiving regular voip calls. We are also working on integrating the Acano tech into the Spark cloud to further improve these interop capabilities.

  11. super awesome!! Thank you JDR and CiscoSpark!! carrying the dongles the right ones had always been a P.A.I.N CiscoSpark is a gamechanger!! Super excited about the innovations you keep bringing to make collab a piece of cake!!

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