MICROSOFT'S METAVERSE MAKES FOR A FUN MEETING
Virtual meetings shouldn't be dull with Microsoft's fresh take of the 3D avatar.
After Facebook officially changed its name to Meta and switched its focus to the virtual space business (metaverse), many technology companies came to see the metaverse as a field with tons of potential — and Microsoft is not an exception.
Previously, Microsoft reportedly was in the works to implement the metaverse in its work and enterprise applications — and it all came to light with its recent announcement of Microsoft Mesh, a new platform that will allow employees to use digital avatars and share Microsoft Office files in a virtual world. Later, a new, customizable 3D avatar will also be implemented on the platform
"We got hit by meeting fatigue in the virtual world," explains Nicole Herskowitz, general manager for Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge.
"After 30 or 40 minutes max in a meeting, it was very hard to stay engaged and focused." That initial meeting fatigue led to Together Mode, and now Microsoft hopes Mesh will further help reduce the cognitive overload of having to be on video calls all day long.
Metaverse in the workplace
Microsoft Mesh is predicted to be a meeting mode in Microsoft Teams that implements unique shared and experimental features to make sessions more interactive. The new technology is hoped to reduce distractions as the user has to be seen on the camera during meetings throughout the day. Their avatar will be available in 2D and 3D, making it easier for users to choose an animated version of themselves when they are off-cam.
"It's not binary, so I can choose how I want to show up, whether it's video or an avatar, and there's a variety of customized options to choose how you want to be present in a meeting," says Katie Kelly, principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh, in an interview with The Verge. "We are able to interpret your vocal cues to animate that avatar, so it does feel present, and it does feel like it's there with you."
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Microsoft will use Artificial Intelligence technology to capture voices and move user avatars. If the user switches to using 3D, then this avatar animation is able to include the avatar's hand when pressing the raise hand option or emoji gesture. Translation and transcription features were also added as a feature to make it easier for users to communicate with colleagues from different countries.
Microsoft's push to create a metaverse in Teams was announced just days after Facebook changed its name to Meta, which is working on a very similar concept to Microsoft. Meta's Reality Labs division has built consumer hardware and software, including Quest VR headsets, and unveiled its vision of remote working using augmented reality and virtual reality last year.
Metaverse for gaming
Microsoft also plans to present a 3D metaverse application for its game console, the Xbox. Microsoft has confirmed that some games already have metaverse properties, such as Minecraft, Flight Simulator, and Halo.
The three games are still 2D at this time. However, it is expected that the company would soon develop 3D modes for the games in its ambition to make gamers able to explore games through VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) headsets.
This metaverse technology also involves a number of developments from a combination of virtual reality and many other technologies. Microsoft will continue to improve the details related to the metaverse to support the performance of the games they have.
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