Microsoft Teams is rolling out 3D avatars in May—allowing users on video calls to be present without showing themselves.
- The 3D avatars are entirely customizable, allowing users to choose how they want their avatar to present them in video call meetings.
- Microsoft says the avatars listen to users’ voice cues and move and animate facial features accordingly to mimic how the participant would look during the meeting.
- The avatars are set to be released on the platform in May, The Verge reports.
Why it’s news
Over the last three years, video meetings have been rapidly increasing in popularity, and sometimes users want to be in the meeting but do not want to appear on video—now that’s possible.
Microsoft Teams just announced that it is launching 3D avatars on its video calls so that users can have their avatars step in when they do not want to show their faces on the platform.
The avatars look similar to a cartoon but use voice cues to interact and talk during the meeting and are completely customizable.
“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,” says principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh Katie Kelly. “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.”
The avatars were originally announced in 2021 but faced some setbacks leading Microsoft to privately test the feature over several months and plans to officially launch them in May.
The company also plans to use the avatars in collaboration with Facebook’s Meta VR headsets. Microsoft is making a Teams client for Meta Quest headsets to allow people to hold meetings in VR with 3D avatars that feature floating emoji and animations like the ability to raise hands, according to The Verge.