Microsoft Teams is about to get a bit more playful, or weird depending on how users view 3D avatars in an enterprise chat service.
While Microsoft may have introduced the concept of avatars in Teams in 2021 but it’s taken the company over a year to bring them fruition for actual users as it updates its release roadmap to introduce 3D avatars for general availablity starting May 2023.
If the idea of a 3D version of yourself hosting or attending virtual meetings feels a bit off-putting, try thinking of Microsoft new animated feature as yet another way to keep your actual self-off camera during early meetings you conduct from home.
When asked about 3D avatars back in 2021 by The Verge, Katie Kelly, principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh explained the feature as follows, “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. 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.”
Microsoft revisited the idea last year during build when the world was a blaze with metaverse news and showcased some demos with its 3D avatars during its BUILD developers conference, but very little seems to surface about the company’s own development of the feature.
3D avatars can be utilized without the use of a camera during meetings as its animation model interprets vocal cues from both the host and attendees.
Microsoft has yet to cover the details regarding the creation of the 3D avatar models, which could go a long way to adoption by users if they feel sufficiently represented by the final product.
We know other instances of 3D models involve 3D mapping, Lidar sensors, and in some cases, head mounted cameras, but Microsoft has yet to unveil the process behind its Teams 3D avatars right now.