The colour of IP telephony

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Cisco Systems has introduced some colour to the world of IP telephony, releasing the first-ever voice-over-IP phone with a full-colour touch screen.

The Cisco 7970G becomes the new high-end phone from the world's largest IP phone vendor. Its backlit, 12-bit colour touch screen allows it to be used not only for voice communications but as a platform for a whole range of productivity applications, said Troy Trenchard, director of product marketing in Cisco's IP Communications business unit.

Because the 7970G has an improved display and can run programs written in XML, it can be used for a number of applications where the presence of a complete desktop PC might not be desired. Retail outlets can run quick price and inventory lookups. Hotels can put room-service and hospitality menus in each guest room. Or contact centres can augment the amount of data they give agents by providing them with a second screen of customer information.

"Most of the IP phones in the market are just delivering voice," Trenchard said. "These are not just phones, they're also a beta terminal or an application terminal."

On the other end of the sales spectrum, Cisco also unveiled changes to two of its entry-level phones, the 7905G and the 7912G. Both models will be updated with XML support, allowing them to support text-based applications. The enhanced XML capabilities won't be available until Cisco releases the newest version of its CallManager software at the end of this year.

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