Microsoft has announced that Teams users now have the option to create and utilize a 3D avatar during meetings, bypassing the need to be on camera or to possess a webcam. The preliminary announcement about this feature was made in 2021, and the tech giant has since conducted thorough tests on the avatars. Following successful trials, Microsoft Teams users now have the opportunity to test this feature under public preview commencing today.
According to a recent blog post by Avery Salumbides, a representative from Microsoft, the addition of avatars in Microsoft Teams presents a viable option to the conventional choice between video or no video. This feature permits team members to take a break from the camera while maintaining efficient collaboration.
The new avatars featured in Microsoft Teams are designed to respond to verbal instructions, eliminating the need for a webcam. This makes them ideal for use on PC systems that lack these capabilities. Microsoft has announced that the public preview for this new feature begins today, with plans for broader accessibility in May.
Microsoft has been testing these avatars—powered by its Microsoft Mesh platform—in private previews over the past six months, and it is now introducing a new lighting system to enhance the appearance of your avatar’s skin and hair. You can also customize your avatar more precisely with the addition of bindis and hearing aids.
Besides that, Avatar in Teams also includes animated reactions using emojis. During meetings, the raising a hand feature will prompt the Teams to do the same, and even allow a thumbs-up reaction. The company plans to integrate the avatars into its Microsoft Mesh for 3D meetings. For those unaware, Mesh is a collaborative platform featuring virtual avatars obtained through the acquisition of AltspaceVR, a virtual reality platform recently discontinued by Microsoft. Additionally, the tech company has teamed up with Meta to introduce a Teams VR experience with 3D avatars for virtual meetings using compatible headsets.