Microsoft Teams, the video conferencing service, is getting a new feature called Together mode to improve the video calling experience as people continue to work from home because of the pandemic. This feature, as the company states, has been implemented to reduce the fatigue that participants experience during a video call because of having to stare at the screen with participants that have different backgrounds, waiting for cues to start speaking, and other such issues. Microsoft shared some research data showing that Together mode reduces fatigue by placing all the participants in the same background, making it look like they are all in the same room.
Microsoft shared that Together mode can help the participants of a video call feel more connected and reduce the fatigue they feel during the call, which is an issue faced by many users as indicated by the company’s research.
Together mode uses AI segmentation technology to place participants in a shared background like an auditorium. The company said this reduces background distractions and is especially helpful for brainstorms and roundtable discussions as multiple people will be speaking. It adds that Together mode makes it easier to pick up on non-verbal cues making the conversation feel more natural. This mode can also solve the eye contact problem that makes people appear as if they are looking in a different direction.
As of now, Together mode comes with the auditorium view but Microsoft is working on adding conference rooms and other situations as well.
“People in Together mode know where others are in a shared virtual space. That means your brain can keep track of what other people are signalling or emoting in a natural way, relying on social/spatial perception; people can intuitively signal each other nonverbally,” Microsoft wrote in the blog post.
Together mode for Microsoft Teams has started rolling out in a phased manner and will be generally available in August. Initially, it supports up to 49 people at a time optimally. The mode is not yet optimised for mobile phones, but it can work on mobile devices. However, users will have to position the phone at a head-on angle and not move the phone around during the meeting for it to work as intended.
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