Cisco is acquiring an AI firm to cut background noise from calls

26 Aug 2020

Image: © Sundry Photography/

According to Cisco, the tech built by BabbleLabs can be used to eliminate background noises on video calls, such as barking dogs, lawn mowers, car alarms and sirens.

On Tuesday (25 August), Cisco announced its intention to acquire California-based artificial intelligence (AI) start-up BabbleLabs.

Founded in 2017 by former Cadence Design Systems executive Chris Rowen, BabbleLabs has built technology that aims to improve communication between humans and machines by enhancing speech quality.

The start-up is led by experts in deep neural networks, speech, embedded systems and technology licensing for hyper-volume systems. Its tech combines speech science, deep learning and computational processing to eliminate background noise in calls.

Removing unwanted noise from video calls

In a statement, Cisco said that the acquisition of BabbleLabs will help its customers control unwanted noises in the background of calls on its Webex platform, including the sounds of barking dogs, lawn mowers, car alarms or sirens.

BabbleLabs’ AI tech can distinguish human speech from unwanted noise and can remove background noise in real time. The technology works regardless of the language spoken on the call.

Cisco said that in a recent survey it conducted on the future of work, 98pc of workers said they experience frustration from distractions during video meetings while working from home.

With the addition of BabbleLabs, Cisco plans to bring native noise removal capability to its entire collaboration portfolio. Initially, the company will integrate the start-up’s technology for Webex Meetings users, wherever they are and however they connect to the Webex application – whether that’s by computer or mobile device.

Jeetu Patel, senior vice-president and general manager at Cisco’s security and applications business unit, said: “A great meeting experience starts with great audio. 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.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Cisco said that it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic