Source: The Verge
Microsoft Teams is set to introduce 3D avatars for individuals who wish to turn off their webcams during meetings. The avatars are a feature of “Microsoft Mesh,” which Microsoft announced late in 2021, at the height of the metaverse craze. Mesh was intended to provide users with virtual workspaces accessible through virtual reality, enabling remote workers to participate in meetings as if they were physically present in a meeting room.
The 3D avatars are expected to be available on Teams in May 2023. For people who want to appear partially on camera, the avatars provide a solution. The avatars feature customizable body types, skin tones, hair colors, and hairstyles, clothing, and facial features, according to previous Mesh for Teams announcements. The avatars will only animate when users speak in initial versions. However, Microsoft intends for them to eventually replicate users’ real-life facial expressions and movements as recorded by their webcams.
While Mesh for Teams was initially planned for release in 2022, the pandemic’s impact on the tech industry has had some effect. Layoffs at Microsoft and a reduced interest in all things related to the metaverse have both contributed to the delay. Microsoft is also focused on integrating AI features into all of its products, which could have delayed Mesh’s release.
There are many reasons for turning off webcams during virtual meetings. Perhaps you’re cleaning your office and don’t want to appear uninterested or distracted, or your child is climbing on you, or you haven’t had a chance to shower yet and don’t want to show your coworkers how disheveled you are. For those who don’t want to appear fully on camera, the new 3D avatars could provide a compromise.
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Microsoft’s goal is to make remote work as realistic and engaging as possible with Mesh. Microsoft is trying to give employees the impression that they are physically present in meetings rather than just staring at a computer screen. With Mesh, Microsoft is attempting to create a more lifelike remote working experience that feels more like traditional in-person work. By allowing individuals to customize their avatars, Microsoft is attempting to create a more inclusive work environment where everyone feels comfortable.
Microsoft Teams is introducing 3D avatars for those who wish to turn off their webcams during virtual meetings. Mesh, the initiative behind the avatars, was introduced in 2021 to provide virtual workspaces accessible via VR. While the 3D avatars were intended to be released in 2022, the pandemic and Microsoft’s focus on integrating AI into all of its products have resulted in a delay. The 3D avatars provide a middle ground for individuals who want to appear partially on camera while also giving Microsoft the opportunity to create a more lifelike remote working experience. By allowing users to customize their avatars, Microsoft is working to create a more inclusive work environment for all.