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In today’s age of remote work and virtual meetings, there are numerous reasons why individuals might be hesitant to appear on camera during Zoom or Teams meetings.

Whether it be a cluttered workspace, a rambunctious child, or simply not having enough time to get ready for the day, turning off the camera can sometimes seem like the best option.

However, Microsoft hopes to change that with the introduction of their new animated 3D avatars, set to launch in May.

The avatars will improve over time

According to the product roadmap, the 3D avatars will be part of Microsoft’s “Mesh” initiative, which includes virtual workspaces accessible via VR. This new development allows remote workers to experience the feeling of being in a meeting room while still being able to customize their appearance.

While the roadmap doesn’t provide a complete list of features, previous announcements suggest that users will be able to customize their avatar’s body types, skin tones, hair colors, hairstyles, clothes, and facial features.

Initially, the avatars will only animate when users speak, but Microsoft plans to incorporate real-time facial expressions and movements captured by webcams eventually.

The age of AI

Although Mesh for Teams was initially set to roll out in 2022, there have been setbacks due to various factors, including layoffs and a cooling interest in all things metaverse.

Additionally, Microsoft is in the midst of a company-wide push to incorporate AI features in all its products, which could have affected the project’s priority status.

Despite these challenges, Microsoft’s dedication to creating innovative solutions for remote work is admirable. With the introduction of the new 3D avatars, employees will have the flexibility to choose how they appear in meetings without sacrificing the feeling of being present in the room.