Microsoft today held its “The future of hybrid work” event and announced a bunch of features for Teams Rooms that are aimed at improving collaboration and the experience for “hybrid” meetings – meaning those meetings where some users are physically present in a room while other join virtually – on devices dedicated for Teams. This is especially useful with more users heading back to offices and attending calls from conference rooms.
The first of the features being added to Teams Rooms is a new “front row” layout for meetings, something that the company provided a sneak preview of in the past. The layout moves the video feeds of participants to the bottom of the screen, closer to users’ eye level in conference rooms. It also allows for more real estate to display meeting content such as the agenda, the shared screen, and chats right next to each other. Front row will be supported for both single and dual display configurations.
Video layouts across multiple displays are also being improved, with the tool now featuring support for splitting participant feeds across dual displays when possible. The firm says that this increases the screen space when content is not being shared, allowing for users to be seen more clearly on video. The company says that these changes aim to make hybrid meetings more “inclusive”.
Teams Rooms is also gaining a few possibilities from Teams on the desktop such as the Spotlight feature that allows hosts to pin specific feeds to the canvas. Other features being added include live reactions chat bubbles, all of which improve the experience on larger displays.
The Teams Rooms experience for Surface Hub devices is also being improved, with the firm adding features such as new Together Mode scenes, background noise suppression, live reactions, and PowerPoint Live for Teams presentations, and more. The new Microsoft Whiteboard experience is also making it to the firm’s collaborative displays. These features will be rolled out to Insiders first, before heading to the general public.
In addition to the Teams Rooms features, the Redmond firm is listing a bunch of new dedicated Teams devices from its partners. These include the likes of Neat, which is bringing unique capabilities like automatically zooming into meeting participants in a room and auto-framing them using AI and special sensors. Additionally, there are new intelligent speakers from EPOS and Yealink that use Microsoft’s voice recognition technology to transcribe meetings with speaker attribution.