Cisco Systems this week showcased forthcoming IP telephony technology during its Innovation Through Convergence conference in Santa Clara, Calif.
By the end of the year, Cisco plans to introduce new IP videoconferencing technology into its CallManager call processing software that can automatically launch video during a voice call if both parties are video-enabled, said Don Proctor, vice president and general manager of the Voice Technology Group at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.
Users could also add video to an ongoing call with the push of a button, he said.
"The name of the game is to make video telephony as simple to use as voice telephony," Proctor said.
The new software features will integrate with third-party videoconferencing equipment from technology partners such as Polycom and Tandberg, he said.
"Our resellers will help connect our customers to the right technology," he said.
Cisco also plans to add a native Session Initiation Protocol interface into CallManager by year's end, he said.
Also at the show, Cisco introduced IP Phone 7970G, which features a high-resolution, color, touch-screen display and XML support. It is scheduled for general availability in the first calendar quarter of 2004 for a list price of $995. The company is also adding XML support to two entry-level handsets, IP Phone 7905G and 7912G.
The new phone enables the display of detailed information while its touch-screen capabilities will ease navigation for customers, said Richard Accordino, director of sales at Vytek, a Parsippany, NJ-based solution provider.
Vytek was one of about 75 channel partners and developers on hand to show off XML applications running on Cisco's IP communications technology.
Such applications, often customized for specific vertical markets, will help drive sales of IP telephony by showing customers a way to do more with their communications systems than simply make phone calls, Proctor said.
"We're not going to see a single killer app for IP telephony but in fact we see many lethal apps," he said.
Solution providers exhibiting XML applications at the conference included:
AAC, whose PhoneTop K-12 application suite for the education market manages attendance and electronic hall passes. The application displays student, intern and visitor photos to ease identification and improve security. The software can also tie into the AMBER Alert emergency system that broadcasts information about abducted children.
Logical, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., whose TimeWize time and billing application enables lawyers to charge calls and other work against client accounts through an IP phone, PC or PDA. The application features a customized menu of clients so each lawyer only has to scroll through accounts he or she is responsible for.
Norstan, Mineapolis, whose Norstan IP Application (NIPA) appliance provides a framework for deploying IP features and applications across an entire organization. The appliance creates a unified interface for all the applications loaded on it, regardless of who writes them, providing simplified administration. The NIPA Status Alert Module enables IP phone users to receive alerts for emergency events or equipment failure.
Vytek, whose ExtendTime time and attendance application replaces the need for a standard time clock. Employees can punch in and out through IP phones and other devices using an employee identification number. The application can also manage employees' work schedules.