Microsoft now allows users of Teams to create 3D avatars to use in meetings, instead of having to be on camera or using a webcam. These avatars were first announced in in 2021. Microsoft has been testing them over the past year, and they are now available for public preview to Microsoft Teams users.
Avery Salumbides is a product marketing manager at Microsoft. He writes in a blog today that “Avatars are for Microsoft Teams offers an alternate to the binary option of no video or video.” “Avatars are for Teams allows you to take a break from the camera while still allowing collaboration to be effective. “The avatars can be customized to your specifications.
The new avatars in Microsoft Teams will be animated based on vocal cues only. If you don’t have a Webcam, they will still work. Microsoft will launch the public preview today, and will begin to roll out these avatars broadly in May .
Microsoft has been using the Microsoft Mesh platform to test these avatars in private preview for the past six months. Microsoft is now adding a new lighting system that will improve avatar skin and hair appearance. You can now customize your avatar with bindis or hearing. “The avatars can also be used with emoji responses.”
Microsoft’s avatars can also be animated when you use Teams Emoji Reactions. Your Teams avatar will respond to a thumbs up reaction if you use the raise-a-hand feature in meetings.
These avatars will be used by Microsoft in its Microsoft Mesh integration with Teams for 3D meetings. Mesh, a collaborative platform, includes virtual avatars that were adapted from Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR – a social VR platform it closed down earlier this month. Microsoft and Meta have also partnered to create a VR experience with Teams using compatible headsets. This allows people to hold VR meetings with 3D avatars.