Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

16 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om MAR K E TWATCH Microsoft is preparing to roll out the new Mesh for Microsoft Teams this year. The feature combines the mixedreality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which enables people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where users can access virtual meetings, chats and shared documents. While productivity has been found to increase with employees working remotely, Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365 collaboration with Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive, believes the new offering could provide staff with the social aspects and engagement they lack at home. “[It] helps take the formality down a peg and the engagement up a peg,” he said. Mesh for Teams – which will be accessible from smartphones, laptops and mixed-reality headsets – is designed to make online meetings more personal, engaging and fun, according to Microsoft research and innovation writer John Roach. “It’s also a gateway to the metaverse – a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things,” he said. Users will be able to join standard Teams meetings as customised avatars of themselves instead of as a static picture or on video. “To start, we will take audio cues so as you talk your face will animate,” said Katie Kelly, a principal project manager at Microsoft working on Mesh for Teams. “You’ll also have animations that bring additional expressivity to the avatars. Your hands will move. The ambition is to closely follow that with Microsoft’s plethora of artificial intelligence technologies so that we can use the camera to insinuate where your mouth is and mimic your head and facial movements.” Organisations can also build immersive spaces – metaverses – within Teams where users can take their avatars to mingle and collaborate on projects. “As a company whose focus is on productivity, on knowledge workers, Mesh for Microsoft Teams to transform collaboration Integrating the collaboration platform with Microsoft’s new holographic virtual space technology could give remote workers the social interactions they lack at home Users’ avatars can meet and collaborate in Mesh for Teams immersive spaces