Cisco is bringing Webex Meetings to Ford's new EVs

There are no escaping conference calls in the era of the connected car. With Webex Meetings in Ford's new EVs, Cisco thinks you'll at least get a better on-the-go experience.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

The pandemic era has made "Zoom fatigue" a well-recognized problem in the past couple of years. Yet, with hybrid work models here to stay, virtual meetings aren't going anywhere. In fact, they're following you just about everywhere, including your car. Cisco on Tuesday announced it's partnering with Ford to extend Webex Meetings to vehicles. 

Taking a conference call in your car may sound kind of miserable -- and Cisco insists the integration isn't intended to encourage in-car meetings. 

"I don't think people are going to go to their car and take a meeting in the car because they have this feature," Javed Khan, Cisco SVP and GM at Webex, said to ZDNet

At the same time, he said, the new norms of hybrid work mean that "collaboration needs to be enabled in every possible place. We've learned how to work from home the last couple of years -- that's opened up the possibility of working from different places and using different tools and being connected all the time."

If anything, Khan added, the integration into the Ford infotainment system "started off with a security focus," given that people may already be trying to join meetings in their vehicles. 

"People are taking phone calls from their cars today," Khan said. "On their way between meetings, people are fumbling through dialing" while in traffic. 

With Webex Meetings in new Ford EVs rolling out later this year, he said, people should be able to join meetings more safely. With your vehicle synced up to your accounts, you'll be able to simply click an on-screen button to join a meeting rather than having to dial in. Furthermore, Webex won't allow any video to play while the car is moving, only audio. 

A driver could, for instance, join a meeting on audio-only while driving their child to soccer practice and then turn on the video component once the car is at rest in the parking lot. At that point, the user gets the full Webex experience, with features like noise cancellation and transcription. 

Additionally, over the last 18 months, Webex has gotten better at dealing with connectivity constraints. So while connectivity in cars is quickly improving, the program can make adjustments for lower bandwidth. For instance, if there's not enough bandwidth on your call for video, Webex will automatically switch to audio-only.

The integration with Ford is just one example of how Cisco is building an ecosystem of tools that work with Webex. Also, on Tuesday, the company announced that within Webex's Embedded Apps Framework, customers can access more apps, including InVision for visual whiteboarding.

Webex on Tuesday announced other updates that are designed to facilitate flexible workstyles. For instance, Vidcast, Webex's asynchronous video messaging solution, is getting new capabilities. Users can embed Vidcast within a Slido poll for virtual check-ins or training, as well as in Webex Events.

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