Last night, PGi and Plantronics launched a set of new products set to enable more effective collaboration between knowledge workers. The event, entitled Smarter Working 2013 SF was held at Gensler’s San Francisco offices. Gensler is one of the top architectural and interior design firms, and recently re-designed Plantronics’ headquarters in Santa Cruz.

PGi’s expertise in virtual meeting technology has been combined with Plantronics’ in audio communications, resulting in an integrated solution with contextual intelligence. Plantronics’ Voyager Legend UC headset coupled with PGi’s iMeet cloud-based social video service provides contextual information to all attendees on a call. iMeet can sense when a caller has taken off their headset, if they are being interrupted, so that other people on the call can visually see their status. There is no need for a caller to hit a mute button or pull down a menu selection in the session software to leave or come back to calls.

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Source: Plantronics

Further integration includes the ability to launch an iMeet virtual meeting simply by a single tap of the headset. If anyone mutes or takes off their headsets, all other callers visually see that that particular caller is no longer available.

What I as impressed by most was the iMeet UI and integration of touch controls on the headset. The iMeet console was clean, and devoid of the annoying drop down menus and additional windows running over top of other virtual meeting solutions such as Go2Meeting and Webex. PGi confirmed that it redesigned iMeet this time around to provide a clutterless, yet intuitive display to allow people to do what they do best in this environment, conduct meetings without distractions.

What I also liked was the automatic generation of meeting notices with all the appropriate links, access numbers, and access codes that get automatically sent and activated on a smartphone with just one touch. This means you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel to enter in a separate access code, especially if it’s a long one.

The PGi/Plantronics Smarter Working solution supports both Windows and Mac-based computing platforms as well as iPad and iPhone. The demo I saw included tablet solutions. Android support is expected down the road.

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Source: PGi

PGi is planning to provide other integration features with the Voyager Legend UC headset including switching from mobile to VoIP calls. Plantronics also launched the Plantronics Developer Connection and its Spokes SDK to allow developers to integrate even more contextual information into the solution such as mobile caller id.

The Voyager Legend UC headset runs $199.95 while iMeet plans start at $55 per month and allow up to 15 people on an HD video quality call. Video quality is dependant upon the receiving device.

Companies looking for more intuitive and contextual virtual meeting solutions across their global employee base will like the new Smarter Working solution from PGi and Plantronics. However, service oriented companies and consultants who attend and run hundreds of virtual meetings each year across a wide client base, will still find multiple meeting clients installed on their desktops. Add iMeet to that list, through its integration work with Plantronics helps it differentiate itself from other meeting solutions, as the two deliver a more natural experience. That’s smarter working!

– Randy Giusto