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How Microsoft’s set of new features make virtual work more natural

By Juliet Umeh

As communities around the world move into more hybrid model of work, learning and life in response to Covid-19 pandemic, technology company, Microsoft, said it has carefully designed technology to help customers’ virtual work more natural.

Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro, said the new set of features in Microsoft Teams make virtual interactions more natural, engaging, and ultimately, more human.

Spataro said these features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education.

He said: “First, they help you feel more connected with your team and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging.

Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro

And third, they help streamline your work and save time. It’s all about enabling people everywhere to collaborate, to stay connected, and to discover new ways to be productive from anywhere. Let’s dig into the details.”

According to him, the unique features of the new technology makes clients feel more connected and reduce meeting fatigue.

Some of the features include:

*Together mode- Spataro said: “At a time when people are conducting more virtual meetings than ever, our research has shown that many of us feel less connected since moving to remote work, and experience more fatigue during video meetings than during in-person collaboration.

“Together mode is a new meeting experience in Teams that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class.

“Together mode makes meetings more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction. It’s great for meetings in which multiple people will speak, such as brainstorms or round table discussions, because it makes it easier for participants to understand who is talking. Together mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August. And we’ll bring more views to together mode in the future.”

*Dynamic view- He said: “While together mode offers an extraordinary new meeting experience, it’s not intended for every meeting. We believe that traditional video meetings people use every day can also be more engaging and dynamic. A set of enhancements we call dynamic view gives you more control over how you see shared content and other participants in a meeting.

“Using AI, meetings dynamically optimize shared content and video participants. New controls—including the ability to show shared content and specific participants side-by-side—let you personalize the view to suit your preferences and needs. Dynamic view builds on the meetings enhancements we announced last month, which include large gallery view (rolling out in August), where you can see video of up to 49 people in a meeting simultaneously, and virtual breakout rooms, which allow meeting organizers to split meeting participants into smaller groups for things like brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions.”

*Video filters- Spataro explained: “We’ve all become familiar with video filters used in photography and social media apps, and now we’re bringing them to Teams. Before joining a meeting, you can use the filters to subtly adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera to customize your appearance.

*Reflect messaging extension- “Our research shows that employee well-being is more important to productivity than ever. Creating an emotionally supportive environment is key to keeping people healthy, happy, and focused. The new Reflect messaging extension gives managers, leaders and teachers an easy way to check in with how their team or students are feeling — either in general, or about a specific topic like work-life balance, the status of a project, current events, or a change within the organization.”

Other key features of the technology include making meetings more inclusive, engaging, and effective. They unique features include live reactions, chat bubbles, speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts, interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow.

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