Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence (AI), Microsoft Teams should sound much better in conferences in the future. In many cases, poor room acoustics and echoes should no longer be a problem in the conference software. Intermediate questions while another person is speaking also sound much better in a sample video. The AI also suppresses background noise.
The models for the artificial intelligence were trained with 30,000 hours of speech, which were recorded by Teams users for an expense allowance with their devices, said the responsible manager, Robert Aichner, the tech news portal The Verge. Overall, the software was able to record the acoustics of thousands of devices. In preparation for the function, 100,000 rooms were simulated. According to Microsoft, the new AI functions will be made available to everyone in the coming months.
Cloud avoided for cost reasons
In addition, the AI routines run on the respective devices of the users and not in the cloud. However, Microsoft did not primarily decide to do this because of data protection, but because of the costs. According to Aichner, processing in the cloud would have generated high costs, which Microsoft would then have had to pass on to the paying customers. Local processing allows all Teams users to use the feature. It is available on 90 percent of the devices used for teams. Users of the software on Windows, Mac and iOS should enjoy it first. Updates are still planned for Android and the web, Microsoft writes in a blog entry.
With the improvement, Microsoft fixes several often negative points in video and audio conferences. Interjections or calls usually result in the interjection being difficult or impossible to understand. But the speaker’s tone can also sound choppy to the other participants. Thanks to the AI, the conversation situation now resembles that of a face-to-face conversation. Simultaneous speaking and listening is possible. Reverberating rooms, echoes from microphones that are too close to the loudspeaker and, as a result, voices from participants that are difficult to understand should also be a thing of the past thanks to the use of AI.
Microsoft Teams was introduced by Microsoft in November 2016. Initially always subject to a fee, since July 2018 there has also been a free version. Like other video conferencing solutions, Microsoft saw a large influx during the corona pandemic with its repeated lockdowns.
Which is also new
In addition to better acoustics, Microsoft has also introduced real-time improvements for text in videos. If the connection quality is poor, the AI should also step in and get the most out of it.
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