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You can now try out avatars and virtual spaces in Microsoft Teams

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft has announced the rollout of several anticipated features for Teams, including avatar support and immersive spaces.

The company is showcasing the new features during its annual Build developer conference, which is currently taking place from May 23 through May 25.

Reports from March indicated that Microsoft’s product road map contained plans to roll out a new feature for Teams and Zoom that would allow users to substitute their live camera feed for a 3D avatar when on a video call.

Instead, the feature will be available starting this week with support for the Microsoft Teams desktop app on Windows and Mac, particularly for all Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise licenses, the company said. The feature will allow you to use avatars as an alternative to video or no video with a host of customizable specifications; however, it does not specify whether the avatars will be 3D.

Even so, the brand also showcased its new immersive spaces powered by Microsoft Mesh for Teams, a feature, which will work in private previews within the communications app, Microsoft said.

Immersive spaces is intended to allow people in group communication within Teams to break off into more personal interactions that simulate in-person meetings. This feature will have a 3D aspect to it as you will be able to use it with a virtual reality (VR) headset, in addition to spatial audio, though you also have the option to use it solely via a PC. Immersive spaces will be available for Microsoft Teams starting this week.

Two avatars communicating in Microsoft Teams.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft is hosting a session during its Build conference demonstrating how Mesh works, and how workspaces can use the feature to build a virtual workspace.

Microsoft Mesh has had several false launches. The brand first announced the concept in late 2021 when several companies were invested in the metaverse. It was intended not only as a method for showcasing 3D avatars in Teams but also for users to interact in VR workspaces with other colleagues. Microsoft said at that time that the avatars were supposed to move only when users spoke, but the brand scrapped plans to have the avatars match the user’s real-time movement with their webcams.

Microsoft then intended to release Mesh in 2022, but the launch was delayed by the burgeoning interest in artificial intelligence (AI) across the industry. However, its resurgence at Build is a good sign that the brand has not given up on this technology.

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Fionna Agomuoh
Fionna Agomuoh is a technology journalist with over a decade of experience writing about various consumer electronics topics…
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