Microsoft Teams could use AI to analyze people’s expressions during video meetings

Rabia Noureen

Teams Video Conference Cropped 1

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The Microsoft Research Team has developed a new AI that will automatically analyze people’s expressions during video meetings (via Windows Central). Indeed, the Microsoft Teams bot reads the non-verbal cues of the meeting participants and dynamically spotlights the most expressive ones.

In a Microsoft Research paper published last month and then spotted by NewScientist, the company describes “AffectiveSpotlight: Facilitating the Communication of Affective Responses from Audience Members during Online Presentations.” The Microsoft Teams bot that the company built acts as an additional attendee during virtual meetings. It can view the video stream from the other participants and send its outgoing video to the meeting attendees.

The AI leverages neural networks to automatically classify participants’ expressions into different categories, including anger, happiness, surprise, disgust, fear, sadness, and neutral. Interestingly, it can also determine movements such as nodding or head shaking, and it has an eyebrow detection system to spot confusion.

“Informed by an exploratory survey and evaluated in a controlled within-subjects study, we demonstrated some of the potential benefits of facilitating non-verbal audience feedback via the proposed system versus two other control support systems,” Microsoft said in the concluding segment of the document. “We are looking forward towards a future when similar approaches can continue to enhance presentation experiences and help close the gap between online and in-person presentations,” the company added.

As it turns out, the tool was able to spotlight 40% of attendees during virtual meetings (as compared to 87% with other similar tools). Still, the Redmond giant is exploring different ideas to address limitations and improve performance.

Overall, it’s a great real-time feedback support system that can transform the meeting experience in Teams. However, keep in mind that it’s just a concept, and there is no information on when this bot will see the light of the day. What do you think about the new AffectiveSpotlight technology in Microsoft Teams? Feel free to leave a comment down below.