A New Source of Presence: Your Headset
Probably the #1 claim to fame of this new device is the sensor that detects if the unit is on your ear and takes action accordingly. If you are using the unit with Microsoft Lync it can be configure to change your presence based on whether you are wearing the unit or not! Microsoft has been talking about Natural User Interfaces--does this qualify? But I am getting off the subject...
On the mobile side, if you are getting a call on your mobile device and put on the headset it will answer the call. If you are on a mobile call using the VPUC and you take it off, it will switch automatically to the mobile phone speaker.
Another one of the things that makes the new Voyager Pro UC interesting is how it integrates between your desktop and mobile. First, you can have the unit paired to your PC and mobile at the same time. It seems to sort everything out.
Also, if you make a call on your mobile phone it sets Lync presence to Busy! (picture above) This will work whether you are not using the headset to make the call on your mobile or not. (I didn't test but I would presume you need to be in bluetooth range of the pc)
The unit will also escalate an Lync IM to voice! For example let's say you IM'ing with someone and you want to bump this connection up to a voice call. All you need to do is put on your headset and the IM will be bumped up to call!
How the unit changes presence and whether it escalates an IM to voice can be configured using the Plantronics Control Panel shown below.
If you are on a mobile call using the voyager and you take it off, it will switch automatically to the mobile phone speaker. It is also designed do this with Lync but I noticed with my Office Communicator it did not automatically move the audio back and forth but I am going to blame this on OC.
Note: Using OCS when I had "When Headset is remove, set presence to:" set to "DND" it would actually set OC presence to "Busy". Small thing and likely fixed in final version.
Microsoft Outlook Whisper Notifications
Plantronics also has a spooky little feature: Plantronics Voice Alerts. This feature will allow you to have important Email, IM, Skype IM or Outlook Calendar event subjects whispered into your ear. Using the Voice Alterts software you can select who is a VIP and setup alerts when you get communications from them.
How Do They Do It?
Of course the first thing us "techies" try to do if figure out how they do stuff. So how are they sensing when this thing is being worn? I don't have any special insight and if I did it would likely be under NDA. My first thought was it can tell what orientation the unit is in but it appears like there is a capacitive touch sensor on the side of the unit and in the ear gels area. I've found if I hold those 2 areas shown below just right I can get it to "think" I'm wearing it. But I need to admit it is very good at detecting when it is being worn or when I'm just trying to "trick" it. Very good.
With the Plantronics Control Panel installed, the New Voyager Pro UC supports quite a few software clients including Lync, OCS, Skype, Cisco, Shortel, Avaya and more. Of course Lync and OCS of special interest to me but most of what I explained above also works with Skype. My experience is that the device software just detects what you have installed and makes it work.
Thankfully for lefties like myself, this unit can easily be flip into left or right wearing position. Plantronics advertises 6 hours of talk time. The USB bluetooth dongle is very nice and small and will work nice with a desktop or laptop--no worries it will get broken off. The charger is a standard USB B connector. In the box you get an AC charger, USB cable to charge with your laptop, an assortment of ear gels, manuals and a little belt clip case to carry all your gear everywhere you go. (does anyone actually use this?!)
MSRP $199.00, but as always I'm sure you can find this unit lower on the street.
This Plantronics unit shows some really interesting possibilities using bluetooth devices paired with a PC or mobile in the realm of Presence. I think Plantronics has a very interesting device on their hands. I expect to see more vendors follow this innovation with some interesting devices.