Cisco Webex tackles background noise with BabbleLabs acquisition

A person with long hair communicating with colleagues using video conferencing
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cisco is planning to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) technology from BabbleLabs into its collaboration division to improve the audio quality of participants in Cisco Webex meetings and remove background noise.

BabbleLabs specialises in developing AI that can detect speech, distinguish this from background noise, and use speech enhancement tech to improve the quality and clarity of speech.

Cisco plans to integrate BabbleLabs’ engineers into its Collaboration portfolio, and will begin by adding this enhanced audio experience to Webex Meetings, which should work regardless of the device being used to connect.

This processing will be implemented on the client-side, too, meaning audio will be suppressed and enhanced before transmitted to meeting participants.

"A great meeting experience starts with great audio," said Jeetu Patel, senior vice president and general manager with Cisco’s security and applications unit.

"We're thrilled to welcome BabbleLabs' team of highly skilled engineers. Their technology is going to provide our customers with yet another important innovation – automatically removing unwanted noise – to continue enabling exceptional Webex meeting experiences."

Background noise suppression is a feature that’s already embedded in a number of video conferencing services owned by rival providers, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Zoom has featured a form of background noise suppression for some time, although a recent update aims to improve the standard of this feature, which has been temperamental in the past.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.