Microsoft Introduces Virtual ‘Theater’ Seating to Help Relieve Video Meeting Fatigue - Bloomberg

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The Teams app also got new voice control devices from partners

After staying for a few months, almost every office worker may be tired of virtual meetings. Microsoft said it has several new ways to make video conferencing more interactive and easier to figure out who is talking or who is talking.

The new features of the company's Teams video conferencing software announced on Wednesday include a feature to sit side by side on white auditorium-style white chairs. The company has also developed a touch screen monitor as a monitor for use with computers that can be used with Teams to access calendars, messages, and phone calls. The voice control device will be produced by partners such as Lenovo Group Co., Ltd. and will be listed later this year.

As the coronavirus pandemic forces companies to close offices and move to remote work, Microsoft has seen a surge in the use of Teams. The team and Slack Technologies Inc. and

For corporate customers, Microsoft is trying to quickly improve its video conferencing products and add new features.

Theater-style seating is called "common mode". Microsoft says the idea is to better show participants and allow them to interact with each other-for example, you can actually raise your neighbor five years old. You can more easily see when someone in the meeting is about to speak or is called out, which may be a problem for many people who attend meetings frequently. The company said in a statement that the feature will be available to all users in August. New views will be added in the future.

Microsoft said that its internal tests found that the new virtual mode increases the time participants spend looking at others and choosing to keep the camera on, helping them to better retain content and better remember the people attending large meetings. When measuring brain activity, this mode brings more calmness and concentration. The company has been working on different conference prototypes and accelerated the "common model" when the pandemic broke out. 

Microsoft researcher Jaron Lanier said: "This is actually designed for the current situation to make our situation less painful." He is considered a pioneer of virtual reality. "At the moment, it makes meetings in a pandemic era more painful, more isolated, less fatigued, and more incredible, although it's a bit incredible in its own way."

Later this year, the team will be able to record who said what in the real-time transcript. The app now has real-time subtitles and will add the name of the speaker soon, which is useful for meetings where the user does not know everyone. 

The company also plans to expand the meeting capacity to 1,000 participants, all participants can talk, chat and appear in video. Microsoft will add a feature for presentations or courses that will allow attendees to listen and watch but not attend, and can accommodate up to 20,000 people. 

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