February 29, 2024

Microsoft Teams Integrated With Mesh For 3D And VR Meetings

Microsoft’s version of Metaverse for professional settings is finally here, with the tech giant announcing that Microsoft Teams will now support 3D meetings.

This means you can now engage in virtual 3D meetings in customizable environments. The new feature comes as a result of Microsoft integrating Teams with its mixed reality platform Mesh.

While the new 3D meetings are meant to offer a virtual reality experience that would work best with VR headsets, you don’t necessarily need one. You may also join a Mesh meeting on teams using a PC for an on-screen 3D experience.

As of now, the Mesh-powered 3D meetings on Teams only support the Quest series VR headsets from Meta.

Though Apple’s Vision Pro, which is set to launch on February 2 has been making waves in the VR space, Microsoft declined to comment on its compatibility with the new feature.

If you’re joining these meetings using PCs, you can still control an avatar to move around and interact in various 3D environments—except it wouldn’t be as immersive.

The new 3D meetings offer users a “feeling of co-presence, even when they are physically separated”, said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Previously in 2017, Microsoft acquired AltspaceVR, a social VR platform. The tech giant then went on to shut down the platform in 2023, following a mass layoffs that recorded over 10,000 job cuts.

Microsoft Mesh, which was only offered as a preview until recently, doesn’t feel very different from AltspaceVR—just a more corporate version designed for professional use.

The Mesh meetings on Teams feature customizable 3D environments, allowing you to add icebreaker questions and fun games. The excellent spatial and audio features in these meetings help replicate physical meetings closely.

For instance, you can move away from others in the 3D virtual space to have private conversations, just like you would in a physical setting.

Microsoft believes that the new feature would find application across a range of use cases such as employee onboarding, town hall meetings, brainstorming sessions, and more.

Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst J.P. Gownder agrees that Mesh can “play a role in creating cohesion for hybrid working arrangements” by addressing some of the limitations associated with video meetings.

What Does the Future Hold for Mesh?

While the integration of Mesh revolutionizes Teams meetings, it is unclear whether the new feature would gain any traction among users.

The chances of widespread adoption would have been much greater if Microsoft introduced the tool in 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing remote work to surge, there was a significant spike in investments in collaboration tools.

A lot of people find the concept unappealing, just like “all Metaverse-related technologies”, Gownder pointed out.

Now that business travel has resumed fully and people are more mobile, it may take time for Mesh to gain popularity.

Mesh is already being used by companies like BP, Accenture, Mercy Ships, and Takeda. However, it is still only a fraction of the companies that use Teams on a daily basis.

While the integration with Teams would certainly help Mesh draw more attention, there’s a good chance that it would simply remain a Teams feature rather than become a popular standalone platform.

Mesh, along with its immersive spaces and other standard features, will be included under the Microsoft Teams business plans. However, deploying a custom immersive space would require a Teams Premium license.

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