Wearable Tech World Feature Article
July 30, 2013

Plantronics Launches CS500 XD - Wireless Wearable Tech Without the Cross Chatter

Wearable tech pioneer Plantronics has had quite a few busy weeks of late. A month ago, the company announced the Voyager Legend UC, an upgrade to the now “legendary” Voyager Legend Bluetooth wireless headset, designed to work within Cisco UC environments. The Voyager is already loaded with sensors, but last week at our Wearable Tech Expo and Conference Plantronics delivered a keynote, which offered a startling amount of new technology and…new sensors for the Voyager – a kind of Voyager on steroids but without any of the negative connotations of performance enhancing drugs. Amazing stuff in our humble opinion, and all of it captured on video as well.

Apparently, there is no rest for the weary. Today, the company has taken yet another turn in announcing the general availability of its new CS500 XD Series. This is technology strictly targeting the enterprise, and, more specifically, it is technology targeting very large environments where numerous wireless headsets are being utilized. Think call centers, for example, and other large environments where Bluetooth headsets might dominate.

Some of the problems that immediately come to mind within such environments are low levels of audio quality, interference and the ever present possibility of crosstalk (or cross chatter as we prefer to think of it). The underlying reason these issues exist is related to the overall “density,” that is, the concentration of headsets, within any given environment. Too many headsets, more often than not, leads to interference issues. Sometimes, the situation can become so acute that businesses look to return to “corded” environments – a notion that just rubs both us and Plantronics the wrong way!

That said, Plantronics has been working to develop a solution to the problem, and with today’s announcement of the new CS500 XD Series, that solution is now in hand for any business based in North America.  The CS500 XD Series makes use of the 900 MHz wireless frequency, and combining this technology with other wireless devices, such as the Plantronics CS500 or Savi Series DECT headsets, will very likely and significantly increase the number of headsets that can be used concurrently in the same area. The density issue simply disappears.

Although now generally available, Plantronics has already had the CS500 XD Series in the field, and a number of early customers have already deployed it. One customer we are familiar with, a very large financial services business, was saddled with exactly the issues we enumerated earlier. The business has over 300 loan agents and managers who sit together in a 17,000 square foot area, all of them making customer calls throughout the day. Granted, 17,000 square feet is not exactly a “concentrated and tiny” amount of space, but factor in 300 wireless headset users and that nets out to roughly to a tiny 57 square feet per employee.

The company discovered that, at most, only 100 wireless headsets could be used simultaneously in that environment. Beyond 100 headsets, complaints instantly emerged from customers who simply could not hear the agents. In environments where verbal communication is critical, this was simply unacceptable. Faced with the dreaded return to corded headsets, the company launched a CS500 XD pilot and quickly discovered that those 300+ employees were then able to simultaneously enjoy crystal clear audio – and customer complaints quickly ended.

The CS500 XD addresses interference and cross chatter issues by giving companies the ability to utilize different wireless frequencies to prevent audio interference. Doing so dramatically expands the maximum number of people that can be on calls simultaneously.

The CS500 XD series also offers the following benefits:

  • A hot swappable battery that provides unlimited talk time, included with the CS545-XD
  • Up to 350 feet of range
  • A choice of three comfort-tested wearing options to match personal style
  • Highly accessible, at-your-fingertips audio controls
  • Enhanced Digital Signal Processing for more natural sound
  • SoundGuard technology to ensure listening comfort and acoustic limiting for protection against audio spikes
  • An auto answer option that allows users to answer and end calls simply by removing/replacing the headset from the charging base
  • An extended boom and noise-canceling microphone that filters out background noise

While it may be hard to get one’s head around these issues if one hasn’t operated in very large open areas, consider this: Many of us now use wireless headsets in our offices and home offices, and in those cases, if we find ourselves without access to them it will drive most of us crazy – no one wants to use a handset. Imagine if your entire day is built around making calls in these large environments. Enough said.

The CS500 XD Series is available now through authorized Plantronics resellers and distributors in North America. MSRP for the CS500 XD ranges from $339.95 – $389.95.




Edited by Blaise McNamee




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