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Microsoft announces Teams in VR and AR with 3D avatars to create own metaverse

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Highlights:

  • Microsoft Enters Metaverse Race With 3D Avatars and Mesh for Teams.
  • For Teams meetings where users don’t want to be on camera, 3D avatars will now be available.
  • Mesh for Teams is “designed to make online meetings more personal, engaging and fun.”

Microsoft plans to add 3D avatars that can take part in meetings on Teams. It also wants to build immersive spaces where people can collaborate and socialize. These features will start rolling out in the first half of 2022. Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Zoom have been trying to make virtual meetings more immersive.

Microsoft is now getting more serious about virtual meetings with the introduction of 3D avatars and immersive spaces on Teams. Your 3D avatar will be able to take part in meetings when you don’t feel like turning the camera on. Microsoft will also take audio cues so that your face animates while you talk.

Microsoft Mesh avatars and virtual environments to Teams

The cross-device upgrade for laptops, phones, VR, and Microsoft’s Hololens headsets makes its avatars the central focus, along with a set of immersive meeting spaces that will fold in Microsoft Office 365 apps and services. The avatars will work in Teams’ 2D modes as an alternative to showing your real face on-camera, but they can express reactions and emotions. They’ll also work in 3D immersive spaces that will cross between VR, AR, and 2D screens.

Microsoft will use AI to listen to your voice and then animate your avatar. If you switch to a more immersive 3D meeting, then these animations will also include raising your avatar’s hands when you hit the raise hand option or animate emoji around your avatar. These virtual environments will obviously work best with a VR or AR headset, but they’ll be open to anyone across multiple devices thanks to the animated avatar work.

Microsoft describes Mesh for Teams as its take on the “metaverse,” a term increasingly used by companies to describe virtual environments for social collaboration. Facebook, which recently changed its name to Meta, has been particularly vocal about the idea and has also been building out its own vision for virtual environments for the workplace.

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