The Mesh for Microsoft Teams feature will roll out in the first half of 2022 and looks to add nuance to what Microsoft perceives as an “awkward and binary” choice between turning video on or off in meetings held on Microsoft Teams. The new feature will allow users to instead join a standard Teams meeting as a customised avatar of themselves, instead of as a static picture or on video.
Writing on the Microsoft website, John Roach, who writes about Microsoft research and innovation, said, “Mesh for Teams – which anyone will be able to access from standard smartphones and laptops to mixed-reality headsets – is designed to make online meetings more personal, engaging and fun.
“It’s also a gateway to the metaverse – a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things. Think of the metaverse as a new version – or a new vision – of the internet, one where people gather to communicate, collaborate and share with personal virtual presence on any device.”
Mesh for Teams will roll out with a set of pre-built immersive spaces to support a variety of contexts, from meetings to social mixers. The avatars in the first release of the feature will animate via audio cues, with Microsoft planning to use AI to mimic head and facial movements in future releases.