Back in March 2021, Microsoft announced a new way for people to interact with each other via avatars in 3D digital environments. It was called Microsoft Mesh and at the time it was supposed to use the Azure cloud platform to let "people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences on many kinds of devices."
In May 2023, during the announcement of Microsoft adding 3D avatars to Teams video meetings, it was also revealed that the company was going to launch a version of Mesh in a private preview test.
Today, the company announced that Microsoft Mesh will finally be launching as a public preview sometime in October as a Teams feature. In a blog post, Microsoft described how Mesh will work in Teams:
- Avatars: As you enter an immersive space, choose an avatar that you’ve already built for standard 2D Teams meetings or create a new one. It’s easy to customize your avatar to reflect your appearance, style, or mood for the day.
- 3D environments: Choose from one of the ready-made 3D environments that fits your meeting’s needs, whether it’s a big team social gathering or a small round-table discussion.
- Seat assignments: Select where you sit in a meeting or event to drive connections with your co-workers. You can also freely move from one conversation to another.
- Spatial Audio and audio zones: Have multiple, simultaneous conversations and communicate effectively in subgroups without talking over each other.
- Interactive activities: Play built-in interactive games for team bonding within immersive spaces. To get started, you can see a few designated areas to roast marshmallows, throw beanbags, answer fun icebreaker questions, and more.
- Live reactions: Use live reactions such as hearts, thumbs up, clap, and more to express yourself during discussions.
Businesses will also have the option to create their own Mesh experience using a special editor or with the more advanced Mesh Toolkit.
The Mesh public preview will be supported on PC platforms, along with the Meta Quest VR headsets. That likely includes the upcoming Meta Quest 3, which will launch this fall for $499.99. More info on the Meta Quest 3 will be revealed at the Meta Connect developers' event that will be held starting on Wednesday, September 27.