The Metaverse battle between Microsoft and Meta/Facebook is on a collision course!
As Facebook rebranded to Meta, Microsoft is joining the race to develop a metaverse within Teams. Toward the end of next year, Microsoft will be integrating its virtual experience platform “Mesh”, directly into Microsoft Teams. The company is combining mixed reality and HoloLens work with virtual meetings and video calls that everyone can take part in. It appears that Microsoft and Meta are on a collision course to compete over the future of work.
Let’s talk Microsoft
It’s always felt like Microsoft Mesh was the future of Microsoft Teams meetings, and now it is starting to become a reality in 2022. After months of people working from home and adjusting to hybrid work, Microsoft is building on efforts like “Together Mode” and other experiments to make meetings more interactive. Nicole Herskowitz, general manager for Microsoft Teams, tells “The Verge” that virtual meetings can be exhausting. “After 30 or 40 minutes in a meeting, it’s hard to stay engaged and focused.” Due to initial meeting fatigue, Microsoft developed Together Mode, and with Mesh they hope to lessen the cognitive overload of having to sit through video calls all day.
Our new reality is Virtual
In an attempt to move toward a metaverse environment, Microsoft Teams will have 3D avatars, and you won’t need to wear a VR headset in order to use them. 2D meetings as well as 3D ones, you can utilize these avatars to represent yourself, so if you’re not feeling like turning on your webcam, you can simply use the animated version. In an interview with “The Verge”, Katie Kelly, principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh, says the technology isn’t binary, so users can choose how they want to be presented in a meeting. Microsoft Mesh can animate your avatar based on your vocal cues, so it feels present and it feels as if it is there with you.
And then there is A.I
Using artificial intelligence, Microsoft will listen to your voice and then animate your avatar. If you switch to an immersive 3D meeting. Additional animations will include raising your avatar’s hands when you click the raise hand option. Animating emojis around your avatar. Microsoft intends to build a metaverse that is useful to businesses through the Mesh integration, particularly in its efforts to develop immersive spaces. Within Teams, Microsoft envisions virtual spaces where people can network and socialize, play games, and even collaborate on projects using Microsoft apps. Also, Translation and transcription are built into Microsoft Mesh, therefore you can meet in a virtual workspace with a co-worker from anywhere around the world without having to worry about language barriers.
Embrace a new Environment
The virtual environments will obviously be best viewed with a VR or AR headset. The animated avatar work will make them accessible to anyone on a variety of devices. “The thing that really differentiates how Microsoft is approaching the metaverse from our own experiences. It is how it starts with the human experience, so the feeling of presence, having eye contact, and expressing reactions are going to be important,” says Kelly.
“We’re hoping to have these virtual spaces and avatars available in the first half of 2022 for Microsoft Teams,” said Malik. “The goal is by the first half of the next year, you’ll be able to go into an immersive environment and then use Microsoft’s tools.
Accenture has been experimenting with creating virtual campuses for employees before the pandemic. Now, businesses will be able to construct their own virtual spaces inside Teams.
Meta’s avatars represent you in virtual spaces. Meta’s Reality Labs division has been developing hardware and software for consumers. The Quest VR headset, and described its own vision for remote work through augmented reality and virtual reality last year. With its HoloLens work and purchase of AltspaceVR, Microsoft and Meta will compete heavily in the metaverse era. But they’re not alone. A growing number of companies are using platforms like Spatial. It offers virtual meeting spaces for events, meetings, and networking opportunities.
Meta leverages billions of users across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger to realize its metaverse ambitions. Microsoft utilizes millions of users on Teams and integrations into Office to make the metaverse a reality for businesses. The metaverse battle for your digital avatars is only just beginning.
Article Source: The Verge