Zoom Integrates Alexa for Business into Conference Room Platform
Zoom has augmented its Zoom Room platform for conference rooms with Alexa for Business. The work-centered version of the voice assistant brings hands-free controls to Zoom Room appliances, the devices installed in office meeting rooms that operate with Zoom.
The Zoom Rooms integration lets users connect to Alexa for Business through the existing software by clicking in a few places. Once Alexa for Business is set up on the appliance, users can ask Alexa to find available meeting rooms, start, stop, or extend meetings, and switch the microphone on or off. Alexa for Business is Amazon’s enterprise platform for Amazon’s voice assistant, designed to make Alexa an office assistant for arranging and running meetings. Along with making connections to communications software like Zoom and Webex, Alexa can integrate with standard office scheduling and organizing tools like Google Calendar and Microsoft Office 365. That helps the voice assistant coordinte the meeting rooms, and keep attendees aware of the time and when their reservation is close to ending.
“By integrating directly into Zoom Rooms and not requiring any additional hardware, Alexa for Business has made it easy to deploy Alexa across a range Zoom Rooms Appliances,” Amazon Alexa voice service and skills vice president Aaron Rubenson said in a statement. “Together we are delivering an end-to-end solution to increase productivity, improve the meeting room and video call experience, and enable businesses to be voice-first.”
Zoom has been rapidly building out its integrations to new platforms and devices over the last year. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent spike in usage appeared to accelerate Zoom’s plans to add the Amazon Echo Show, Facebook Portal, and Google Nest Hub Max smart displays to its list of devices. Notably, those arrangements did not come with voice commands for the Zoom app. The same goes for the Zoom for Home smart display launched last year. There’s plenty of competition to keep Zoom motivated. For instance, Microsoft revamped Teams last year, and it uses the Cortana voice assistant to manage the platform. Google Meet has seen several upgrades as well, including the recent addition of real-time transcriptions and captions using via Otter.ai. Zoom only just last week opened up its platform to Dubber to offer conversation transcription and analysis. The partnership with Amazon may be an important component for Zoom’s future as the pandemic ends and at least some offices reopen. Many people have become used to using Zoom and other conferencing software, but want the convenience of a voice assistant to arrange the in-person meetings after so long with a home-based meeting room
“How we work is changing,” Zoom Rooms head Jeff Smith said in a statement. “By integrating Alexa for Business into Zoom Rooms Appliances, we’re reducing friction for organizations as they look towards ways to bring back their employees safely.”