Microsoft joins the Metaverse war: to seamlessly glue different Metaverse

Unlike Meta’s meta-universe vision, Microsoft does not want to control the meta-universe itself, but hopes to connect different meta-universes.

Focus on:

  • 1 Microsoft announced that starting from 2022, it will directly implant the virtual experience collaboration platform Mesh into Teams to create its own meta-universe.
  • 2 Microsoft Teams will get new 3D avatars to promote the development of the meta-universe environment. Users do not need to wear a VR headset to use them.
  • 3 In the internal virtual space of Teams envisioned by Microsoft, people can play online games and socialize, and even use Microsoft applications for project collaboration.
  • 4 Unlike Meta’s meta-universe vision, Microsoft does not want to control the meta-universe itself, but hopes to connect different meta-universes.

A few days ago, the social networking giant Facebook changed its brand name to Meta to promote its plan to build a meta-universe for consumers and businesses. Now, Microsoft has also joined the meta-universe war and wants to build a virtual world within its collaborative office software Teams.

Microsoft said that next year, the virtual experience collaboration platform Mesh will be directly implanted into Teams to seamlessly bond different meta-universes. This is part of Microsoft’s ambitions, the purpose is to combine the company’s mixed reality and HoloLens with conferencing and video calling capabilities, anyone can participate, thanks to the 3D avatar.

Microsoft joins the Metaverse war: to seamlessly glue different Metaverse

3D avatars will appear in Microsoft’s collaborative office software Teams in 2022

Through the latest announcement, Microsoft and Meta seem to have launched a fierce competition in the field of Metaverse, especially in the field of future work. Microsoft Mesh always feels like the future of Teams meetings, which will become active in the first half of 2022. After months of working from home and adapting to mixed work, Microsoft is working to make meetings more interactive, such as together mode (Together Mode) and other experiments.

3D avatars help relieve fatigue in virtual meetings

Nicole Herskowitz, general manager of Microsoft Teams, explained in an interview: “We encountered meeting fatigue in the virtual world, which hit us. After meeting for at most 30 or 40 minutes, It is difficult to continue to keep people actively engaged and focused.” The initial meeting fatigue led to the birth of a common model, and now Microsoft hopes that Mesh can further help reduce the cognitive burden of having to make video calls all day.

Microsoft Teams will get new 3D avatars to promote the development of the meta-universe environment. You don’t need to wear a VR headset to use them. These avatars can represent the user in 2D and 3D meetings, so if they don’t want to open the webcam, they can choose an animated version of themselves.

Katie Kelly, Chief Product Manager of Microsoft Mesh, said: “These avatars are not binary, so I can choose the display method I want, whether it is a video or an avatar, and various customization options to choose how you want. Attend the meeting. We can interpret your voice prompts and make your avatar come alive, so you can really feel the presence, it feels like it’s right by your side.”

Microsoft will use artificial intelligence (AI) to hear listen to your voice, and then animate your avatar. If you switch to a more immersive 3D meeting scene, these animations will also include the hand that raises your avatar when you click the raise hand option, or make animated emojis around your avatar. Immersive space is where Microsoft believes this Mesh integration is most useful, especially in the effort to build a meta-universe for enterprises. What Microsoft envisions is a virtual space inside Teams, where people can play online games and socialize, and even use Microsoft applications to collaborate on projects.

These virtual environments will obviously run best on VR or AR headsets, but thanks to the work of animated avatars, they will be open to anyone on multiple devices. Kelly explained: “I think Microsoft is how to achieve real difference yuan universe and our own experience from the beginning of human experience, there is a sense, talking to people, eye grok . Stream and reaction will be crucial.”

Microsoft joins the Metaverse war: to seamlessly glue different Metaverse

Microsoft Teams will introduce many 3D avatars

Microsoft has even added support for translation and transcription, so you can meet colleagues from all over the world in the virtual Teams space with fewer language barriers. Kelly said: “Microsoft Teams is expected to start using these virtual spaces and virtual avatars in the first half of 2022. Our goal is that by the first half of next year, you will be able to enter the immersive virtual space, and then be able to collaborate and use Microsoft’s tool.”

Companies will be able to build their own virtual space or meta-universe within Teams. This is what the consulting agency Accenture has been experimenting with since it created its own virtual campus for employees before the outbreak. This virtual space quickly became useful because the company used it to recruit new employees during the outbreak.

Seamlessly connect different meta-universes

Starting in 2022, people will be able to hold meetings in virtual spaces by wearing VR or AR helmets. People will no longer simply communicate through video, but can appear in the form of 3D avatars, expressing facial expressions in real time, including smiles and frowns. Microsoft AI and mixed reality technology researcher Alex Kipman (Alex Kipman) promised: “Your avatar can express emotions such as anger and happiness.”

While launching the Hololens AR helmet, Microsoft has been developing its own virtual world through Mesh for several years. But so far, it’s hard to figure out what Mesh is. This is mainly because Mesh only belongs to the underlying basic technology: it is Microsoft’s way of connecting people through any device (smartphone, laptop, helmet, etc.). Enter the shared space, where they can all interact, no matter how they enter.

Now, as Microsoft announced the introduction of Mesh into Teams in 2022, we have clearly seen for the first time what Mesh will look like in popular applications.

The meta-universe vision that Meta announced last week has certain similarities with the platform Microsoft demonstrated. Companies can create their own 3D brand spaces on these two platforms, where people’s avatars are both cute and cartoon. But Microsoft leaders bluntly drew a line between Meta’s meta-universe and their own methods, because although Meta wants to have a meta-universe, Microsoft is more willing to provide motivation for it.

Microsoft joins the Metaverse war: to seamlessly glue different Metaverse

In 2022, Microsoft Teams will include virtual meeting spaces

Jipu Man said: “The outside world believe that there will be a meta universe, and everyone will live in ‘ my ‘ meta universe but in my opinion, this is a dystopian view of the future I believe in yuan. Universe. Every website today is the meta-universe of tomorrow. The interesting thing about the Internet is that websites can be connected freely.”

Microsoft imagines Teams as a prototype of the meta universe, where the company can build its own virtual space. Microsoft did not like the ruling desire Meta own meta universe, but will provide the basis for adhesive Mesh deemed role to help the more meta universe connected together . This is not just a philosophical view of technology. Microsoft’s Mesh allows companies to use APIs, just like apps on the iPhone today, to help companies build their own meta-universes and have a lasting identity in all these virtual worlds.

Kipman explained: “If we have an infinite number of incarnations instead of just a few or one, our strategy will succeed.”

The Mesh of the Microsoft team gives us a glimpse of the true nature of the meta universe. As a pilot partner, Accenture placed tens of thousands of new employees in virtual global headquarters during the outbreak. Human resources staff departments will spend two days to help new employees adapt through interactive workshops, including a more typical conference room, there are fishing pond professor identity fraud, as well as their leadership points to climb the mountain (Leadship Essentials Mountain), To understand the characteristics that Accenture looks for in leaders. New employees can even take a virtual photo with each other.

Accenture Human Resources Officer Ellyn Shok said: “This may sound old-fashioned, but people like it. It’s much better than having a coach talking to you for two days in Teams.”

The size and scope of the company’s meta-universe space will vary, depending on how much development funds the company has invested in digital real estate. More consistent is the user side of the experience: specifically, how the user’s avatar interacts with these avatars in the meta-universe. The interaction rules that Microsoft formulated for the user’s image in the metaverse may be more important than the design of the virtual world.

Why introduce 3D avatars?

Microsoft’s anchor philosophy for Mesh is that you can come, not only because you are yourself, but because of who you want to be. As mentioned earlier, users can use a webcam or mobile phone to enter Teams as before, but you can also choose to appear as a cartoon image of your own design.

If you are making a pure audio call, Microsoft will use software to translate what you have said into a suitable mouth shape. This speech also drove the accompanying gestures and expressions. If you have a webcam available, Microsoft can use the data to map these expressions more accurately.

The first question we asked Microsoft was, why do we always see cartoon avatars in virtual spaces? Are they useful? Or are they just covering the emotions in real communication? It turns out that these cartoon images have several important functions, especially for those of us who don’t like to be in front of the camera all day long.

Microsoft joins the Metaverse war: to seamlessly glue different Metaverse

Translation and transcription functions will help bridge language barriers

Microsoft 365 and Jared vice president Teams Spa Tarot (Jared Spataro), said: “Today, people face when attending a digital meeting with a dilemma of choice, they must choose whether to turn on camera or off camera, open the camera means. When you stand in the front and in the middle, people will see your every move. Turning off the camera means you will hardly send out social cues, and it is difficult to give people the feeling of being fully engaged in the meeting.”

In fact, we are all wondering if the colleague who turned off the video and kept it mute actually participated in the meeting. Microsoft’s own Human Factors Lab has tested these extreme situations: They strapped EEG to people’s heads and saw people appear exhausted in videos. They also found that when you have an avatar, 70% of the attendees will feel that the person is there. Jipu Man said:. “Select the 3D picture, for today’s graphics technology, 3D rendering is the best choice for Microsoft’s body will be able to project a picture of your own limb body language words, by webcam or otherwise Map your actions.”

These avatars look complicated enough to mimic facial expressions, and Microsoft obviously doesn’t want to mess up in this regard. Kipman said: “You need to be able to present yourself in a real way, which includes frowning and expressing anger. Because as a business and emotional construct, it is important that the avatar represents you in as true a way as possible. .”

Equally important, Microsoft hopes that you can bring your Mesh avatar out of Teams and into the multiverse. Mesh APIs adapt to this possibility, they balance the persistence of the user’s own identity with the rules that may be built in any different metaspaces that they access.

Kipman imagined that you (and your avatar) might attend a virtual concert on Sunday night and then pick up a T-shirt. The next morning, your avatar should be able to wear that T-shirt to participate in Teams work. If appropriate, each individual metaverse can impose its own rules. Kipman Cheng: “If the Department of Defense (DoD) Metaverse says,’We don’t want to let in T-shirts with Mickey Mouse, we just want uniforms.’ According to the way they process data today, they can ban the Metaverse. Wear a Mickey Mouse T-shirt.”

Perhaps the Department of Defense’s dress code is not that compelling at first glance, but Kipman explained that the PG-class metaverse can establish rules and norms around certain avatar choices to ensure that families and adults have a safe space. This is a rather noticeable failure of the Internet today. Of course, Mesh for Teams is still under development, and many of its functions have not been explained in detail. But it is clear that Microsoft is trying to strike a balance between serious self-expression and reasonable supervision.

The meta-universe war intensifies

It is estimated that if the current trend continues, the market size of Meta Universe will reach 800 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.

In Microsoft’s view, one aspect of Metaverse is “the pinnacle of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Satya Nadella) said in a keynote speech at the Microsoft Inspire conference this summer: “The enterprise metaverse combines the Internet of Things, digital twins, and mixed reality.

With our meta-universe stack, you can start from a digital twin and build a rich digital model for any physical or logical thing, whether it is an asset, a product, or a complex environment that spans people, places, things and their interactions. These digital twins are bound to the physical world in real time, so you can monitor the environment and use mixed reality to collaborate in it. You can run simulations, and you can apply AI to analyze and predict future states. “

The definition of the meta universe and the content it contains vary from stakeholder to stakeholder, but the competition is becoming more and more fierce. A few days after Facebook changed its name to Meta, Microsoft promoted the establishment of a meta universe within Teams. Meta is working on a concept very similar to Microsoft, mainly representing your digital avatar in a virtual space. Meta’s Reality Labs division has been manufacturing consumer hardware and software, including Quest VR headsets, and last year expressed its vision of using augmented reality and virtual reality to support remote work.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered a question about Metaverse’s revenue opportunities during the second quarter earnings conference call. He said: “I think digital products and creators will be very powerful. People will express themselves through their avatars, digital clothing, digital products, and the applications they own, bringing them from one place to another. Business will It is an important part of Metaverse, you will be able to sell physical and digital products at the same time.”

In addition to envisioned enterprise use cases, a consumption-based model may also be Microsoft’s meta-universe goal. Teams has nearly 250 million monthly active users, even if few users use Metaverse technology, it is worth it for the company. Microsoft and Meta will obviously compete fiercely in the meta-universe era. This is an area that Microsoft has been investing in for many years, both its HoloLens project and the acquisition of AltspaceVR. However, Microsoft and Meta are not fighting alone. Many companies have begun to use platforms like Spatial to provide virtual spaces for events, conferences and networking opportunities.

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