Last week we got more information about Mesh for Teams, and what is happening in the near future.
Meta and Microsoft partnership around Mesh for Teams
First, on October 11th at Meta’s Connect event keynote Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella announced Mesh for Teams for Meta’s Quest 2 and upcoming Quest Pro virtual reality devices. Mesh for Teams enables an immersive meeting experience in virtual reality. Also, the capability to join Teams meetings from Meta’s Horizon Workspaces is in the plans. It was also mentioned that you could use your avatars on both platforms, let’s see how that is coming together. Also Microsoft 365 productivity apps, like Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint, content can be utilized, and streaming Windows experience with Windows 365 can be utilized with Quest devices. It’s really important that these two giants are partnering around the metaverse and the future of work.
What was released at Ignite 2022
At Ignite event the first wave of Mesh for Teams was officially announced – Mesh avatars for Microsoft Teams.
It enables users to join meetings and express themselves with personalized avatars rather than using video or participating as profile images or initials. The avatar will mimic your speech with facial expressions, and you can control the avatar’s reactions, like knotting, smiling, liking, thumbs up, etc. A camera is not needed.
The avatar builder, the Mesh avatars app, supports hundreds of different customization options like figure, clothing, hair, eyewear, and even make-up, so people can express themselves the way they want. When released, the Mesh avatars app will be available from the Teams app store.
You can have three different avatars, so you can pick a suitable avatar based on the type of meeting for example. Custom backgrounds for avatars will be also available.
Why you should then use the avatar?
There has already been a lot of discussion about avatars in meetings, even if they are not available yet. Some opinions that avatars are just for fun, like company get-togethers, parties, and community events – not for professional use. I agree with the fun part, of course, but have to disagree with the professional part. It’s way better to present as an avatar rather than a static profile image or initials. It just makes participants feel more present in the meeting, especially when others are on video. I have already been in some meetings where people have joined with avatars, and the experience is great. Of course lot of facial expressions and reactions are missing, but still way better than having the “MP” talking.
Avatar for meetings is entering Private Preview, but my guess is that it will be available quite soon in Teams Public Preview as well. So, stay tuned!