Together mode: Microsoft innovates with AI to add offline feel to virtual calls

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Microsoft Together mode

Leveraging AI, Microsoft's Together mode will now offer teams to share diverse virtual spaces instead of being in boxes during group calls.

Microsoft's Together mode will allow people using Microsoft Teams to share a virtual experience of being in the same setting during a group call, instead of being displayed in/as boxes next to each other. The technology giant hopes to help people feel more relaxed, attentive, playful and focussed on shared goals. The core idea is to make meetings feel better.

The feature has been designed to be well-suited for calls where multiple people will speak or the goal of the meeting is educational in nature. It is expected to help presenters get a better feeling of what the attendees are feeling, to read the room better.

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However, if the presentation requires a physical whiteboard or any other such element, Together mode may not be a suitable choice. At the moment, AI fuelling the feature only detects and brings the person to the shared space and not their environment or the background. The feature is also not optimised to share the screen with PowerPoint presentations.

The feature works best if the person is watching straight ahead at the camera and the meeting window takes up all or most of their screen. It has not yet been optimised for phones yet but can work is the camera is placed at an appropriate angle. The mode works best on a screen that is at least as big as a tablet. Also, if a participant was to drop out of the call and re-join at a later stage, they would find themselves at a different seat than earlier.

In the current version, Together mode optimally supports up to 49 people at a time. It could still be used for more persons but it would at the discretion of the hosts and other attendees. Microsoft is also working on optimising Together mode to support voice-only participants.

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