You can expect so see virtual avatars in your online meetings this year
With more and more of us working from home in the post-pandemic era, it is no wonder that video-conferencing apps and services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are booming and constantly trying to get one over on each other. Recently, Microsoft made move with Teams by introducing the ability to use virtual avatars in the place of video of yourself when on a call. Now Zoom has responded with its own version of the feature. Let’s take a look at both offerings.
Virtual Avatars on Microsoft Teams
The feature, which has been available for members of the Technical Access Program since late last year introduced the ability for users to design their own avatars to use in their stead when on Teams video calls. They work using Microsoft’s Mesh feature set, which has been designed to give users presence and shared experiences from anywhere.
Mesh is supposed to be a big-ticket metaverse effort from Microsoft that the company hopes will help spur user creativity by allowing them to connect with “new depth and dimension”. The technology looks interesting too, although it is eerily similar to Meta’s efforts in this regard too, right down to the floating bodies not having legs. You can check it out here.
There is an element here, that Microsoft is leaning into of blurring the lines between the virtual world and the real world by allowing real workers to present themselves virtually with dynamic avatars on screen. However, it remains to be seen just how well it will go down when if you turn up to an important meeting and put across your perspective while displayed as a virtual character.
Virtual Avatars on Zoom
The first thing that needs to be said about Zoom’s version of virtual avatars, which is the newer version, is that it doesn’t look as good as Microsoft’s effort. Interestingly, however, the Zoom blog post, which has recently announced the launch of the feature uses similar language to Microsoft’s blog post from last November. The idea behind it is that it will allow users to be more “dynamic”, “fun”, “flexible”, and “present”.
Of course, ridiculous corporate speak aside, there are plenty of good reasons that people may not want to show their real face and location when involved in video conferences. For example, there could be distracting actions taking place in the background, they could be embarrassed about their appearance for some reason, or maybe they are just very private. For example, when using these types of tools in education, there may be socioeconomic issues to take into account, with students not wanting to give away too much information about their background to other students, if it could open them up to bullying.
In fact, it is education where these types of features make more sense. Engaging, dynamic, flexible, and fun sound like key aspects of good lessons in school but sound nothing like something you would want an important board meeting to be.
Ok, but why?
And why does this look like something an adult wouldnt do?
I think that everybody remember the judicial hearing in whihc the lawyer couldnt drop the cat filter and the judge had none of it. So, in legal/judicial settings this wont fly.
In other services, if I start to talk with an avatar, I will assume that I am talking with a robot of some AI powered tool.
Completely bonkers. Why on earth would any self-respecting professional, in any field, present themselves as a weird avatar?
Who the f… come up with the idea of avatars and agreed to add it to every social app?
So childish and unprofessional. Amazing.
I am happy now because I think that I have seen the most hilarious thing of 2023: avatars.
There is going to have be a limit to what you can choose as your virtual avatar if this abomination ever invades business, industry or government. There is always going to be the moron who thinks it would be funny to present themself as the President/PM or even a serial killer. In a meeting, body language and facial expressions are very important – it’s a human thing. If they ever introduce voice-overs as well, that would be really offensive.
As a fun thing – outside of work – sure, why not.
Already one avatar one gets on my nerves. Now I try to imagine ’em by dozens, dynamic, in a meta-cartoon, cause that’s what the metaverse is all about, right? Nightmare. Then I wake up, Saturday night, fever, fever when she kisses, fever when she holds me right. That fever ain’t virtual, And the lady ain’t no avatar.
More nonsense for WFH idiots. Everyone is going back to in person meetings.
Never in Zoom Meeting past half year, everyone either using Google Meet or Microsoft Teams now.
Microsoft lost the plot years ago. Rudderless
Nice to see so many comments from people who must be so beautiful with no self esteem issues. Maybe some people have anxiety about presenting on camera and have issues with mental well being in this high pressure time.
At my work we are still mainly WFH and not in the office. Many companies are also push more WFH instead of spending money on office infrastructure.
Any effort to increase mental wellbeing is progressive. Any effort to make work scenarios a little enjoyable is progressive.
Narrow-mindedness is not progressive.