Last year the whole world had to step back in-person interactions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many of us transitioned to work-from-home. Education, healthcare, tech companies, and state, local and federal governments including the World Health Organization, had to communicate, collaborate, and educate remotely. Working from our make-shift home offices or learning-from-home meant we had not-so-perfect and not-so-quiet environments. Everything from noisy lawn mowers, traffic, dogs and kids in the background affected the quality of our experience and focus. Even many of the luckier people who could afford to have a call without requiring a headset dealt with highly reverberant rooms.
It’s no wonder that one of the hottest areas in speech technology is background noise removal. In the past year, all the popular communications and video conferencing apps began offering it as an option to enable users the benefit of more professional audio as they work from home or similar chaotic environments.
Cisco Webex first rolled out deep-learning-based background noise removal with world-leading clarity for captured speech back in September 2020 after the acquisition of BabbleLabs. This Webex audio intelligence feature, which was initially optional to users, proved so popular that it is now on as a default setting for all versions of the Cisco Webex App on laptops and smart phones (from the March release 41.3).
The benefits have been adding up. Since the feature was released, Cisco Webex has removed background noise from over 16 billion minutes of user speech. That’s about 29,000 years of noise so far! This is a particularly wonderful milestone for the BabbleLabs team, now the Audio Intelligence team in Cisco Webex. When we started our journey as a startup, we hoped to make our technology available to millions of users, but we did not imagine we would achieve our goal so quickly. The incredible teamwork from across all of Cisco Webex has been amazing.
Cisco Webex with its built-in audio intelligence has improved the conferencing and work-from-home experience for millions of users globally. It was the feature of the month amongst Webex Community Users and you can read some of the wonderful, fun commentary about the power of background noise removal here. The post from Sahana (@proactive.co.in) resonated with my personal experience as a mom-in-tech with a young child also doing virtual school.
And this is just the beginning. The popularity and effectiveness of Webex audio intelligence (background noise removal) is inspiring us to invest in even greater accuracy, efficiency and features, so we can tune the speech experience for every noise, every voice and every collaboration experience. We’re looking forward to reporting when the first millennia of quiet speech pile up!
Read about the newest Webex audio intelligence feature that distinguishes between foreground talkers and background talkers, my voice only, as well as other newly released Webex features.