Microsoft is looking to add some excitement to Teams meetings by bringing in games . And the software maker began testing games like Solitaire, Connect 4 and Wordament within The Times.
The games are designed to allow colleagues to play against each other during video conferencing meetings.
And while you won’t be playing Halo or Forza inside the Teams anytime soon. But it’s clear that Microsoft is looking at gaming as another way to improve the meeting experience as companies continue to balance the needs of blended work and remote work.
The company is currently internally testing games that are on Microsoft’s regular games list. It can choose not to publish this integration to customers and businesses.
Besides testing games in Teams, Microsoft is also designing virtual spaces within the platform where colleagues can communicate with games.
These virtual spaces are part of the company’s broader plans for metaverse. The company previously detailed its ambitions for holographic avatars and immersive meetings that are expected to hit the Thames this year.
Microsoft continues to add features to Teams with remote work in mind. Together Mode was one of the first additions to the pandemic era nearly two years ago. Teams has also been updated with easy-to-use views and features, and mobile improvements.
News testing has begun inside Microsoft Teams
Separately, Microsoft has spent the past two years adding new productivity features to Teams. The company is now fixing how the basics work thanks to artificial intelligence.
The company’s new AI-powered audio quality improvements should improve echo, interruptions, and acoustics.
The company is now using machine learning models to improve room acoustics. “While we’ve been doing our best to process digital signals in Thames, we’re now using machine learning for the first time to build an echo cancellation feature where you can reduce echo from all different devices,” she says.
Microsoft has been testing this for several months, measuring its models in the real world to make sure that Thames users notice reduced echo and improvements in call quality.
The software maker used 30,000 hours of talk to help train his models. He acquired thousands of devices through crowdsourcing.
Teams users are paid to record their voice and play the audio from their devices. The company simulates about 100,000 different rooms, where room acoustics play a large role in echo cancellation.
If the Tims platform detects that sound is bouncing or reverberating in a room resulting in a shallow sound, the model transforms and processes the captured sound to make it sound as if the Tims participants are speaking into a near-field microphone.
The company is now making this feature available to the platform, along with improvements it made with its earlier AI noise cancellation system. All processing is done on-premises via client machines, rather than in the cloud.