Work, work, work and more team work in Microsoft’s vision of the metaverse for enterprises.
Conceived as a persistent, digital world that is connected to many aspects of the physical world, including people, places and things, Microsoft’s Cloud provides a comprehensive set of resources designed to power metaverses, because ” there will be more than one!”.
The metaverse enables shared experiences across both the physical and digital worlds. As enterprises accelerate their digital transformation, the metaverse can help people meet up in a digital environment, make meetings more comfortable with the use of avatars and facilitate creative collaboration from all around the world.
Rather than building an open metaverse, which is the vision of Meta, Microsoft’s bet is building a constellation of proprietary metaverses justa accesible by the invitation of the owner.
On the tools for the metaverse and many more talking and showing Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft) and his team during the Ignite 2021 virtual conference currently being held from 2nd to 4th November.
A bunch of tools for the metaverses to use on the Cloud
Among the tools for metaverse ready to launch on Microsoft Cloud they are: IoT capabilities that enable customers to create “digital twins” of physical objects in the cloud; Microsoft Mesh to build a shared sense of presence on devices; and AI-powered resources to create natural interactions through speech and vision machine learning models.
Two key announcements on Microsoft metaverses at Ignite
Microsoft sees the metaverse both as a new medium and an app type environment.
At Ignite, the company is making two important announcements that continue the evolution of the metaverse:
a) Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces: Now in preview, this product provides a new perspective on the way people move and interact with nearly any space, from the retail store to the factory floor, and how they manage health and safety in a hybrid work environment.
Previously Dynamics 365 Connected Store, Microsoft expands now from retail scenarios to all spaces. With Connected Spaces, any organisation can harness observational data with ease, use AI-powered models to unlock insights about its environment and respond in real-time to trends and patterns.
b) Mesh for Microsoft Teams: Starting to to roll out in preview in the first half of 2022, this bridging of communication methods makes human presence the ultimate connection.
Now, everyone in a meeting can be present without being physically present using personalized avatars and immersive spaces that can be accessed from any device, with no special equipment needed.
The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more.
Mesh builds on existing Teams features such as Together mode and Presenter mode that make remote and hybrid meetings more collaborative and immersive, according to Jeff Teper, a Microsoft corporate vice president whose responsibilities include the Microsoft 365 productivity tools Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive.
These tools are all ways “to signal we’re in the same virtual space, we’re one team, we’re one group, and help take the formality down a peg and the engagement up a peg,” Teper said. “We’ve seen that those tools have accomplished both goals of helping a team be more effective and also helping individuals be more engaged.”
Mesh for Teams, which anyone will be able to access from standard smartphones and laptops to mixed-reality headsets, is designed to make online meetings more personal, engaging and fun. It’s also a gateway to the metaverse, a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things. Think of the metaverse as a new version – or a new vision – of the internet, one where people gather to communicate, collaborate and share with personal virtual presence on any device.
The first step most users of Mesh for Teams will take is to join a standard Teams meeting as a customized avatar of themselves instead of as a static picture or on video. Organizations can also build immersive spaces – metaverses – within Teams. Mesh for Teams users can take their avatars into these spaces to mix and mingle, collaborate on projects and experience those serendipitous encounters that spark innovation.
“Welcome to Mesh for Teams,” said Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman. “As a company whose focus is on productivity, on knowledge workers, it’s something that customers are really asking us for, and it’s coupled with the vision of mixed reality that we’ve been working on for 12 years. It’s all coming together.”
Kipman has spent most of his past 12 years focused on Microsoft’s suite of mixed-reality technologies, including the development of the company’s HoloLens. His vision for mixed reality has always been a medium that moves people from solitary experiences – single person, single device – into content placed over the real world to create an environment fine-tuned for collaboration. The starting point was the HoloLens, which allows users to see the content.
Mesh, which his team announced in March this year, allows organizations to create metaverses, persistent virtual worlds for people to collaborate, places that connect the physical world to the virtual world via digital twins of people, places and things.
The scenarios for this technology originally targeted people who work with 3D physical models of everything from bicycles and high-end furniture to new jet engines and sports stadiums. These Mesh-enabled immersive spaces allow designers and engineers, students and teachers, to collaborate and iterate regardless of their physical locations. Teams can inspect plans for a factory under construction. Students can learn how to build electric cars or dissect a human.
“Now, we are moving from a set of workloads that are super relevant for first-line workers into workloads for knowledge workers,” Kipman said. “People like you and me, they sit in front of a desk. What do we do? We collaborate. What are we doing right now? We’re collaborating. So, it turns out that Microsoft has this phenomenal, amazing collaboration tool called Microsoft Teams and we’re like, ‘Huh? That’s where people collaborate today.’”
This ah-ha moment opened Kipman’s eyes to how Microsoft’s core collaboration tool can serve as a gateway to the metaverse – to show an audience of 250 million users a new approach to remote and hybrid work. Mesh for Teams allows knowledge workers to build and use self-expressive avatars and experience immersive spaces. As they do, Kipman said, they’ll realize, “’I’d rather do that than the other thing.’”
Other metaverse related announcements
Microsoft announced at Ignite other two updates to Teams Connect that help remove even more barriers and create a boundaryless ecosystem:
a) Teams Shared Channels that allows users to invite an external team to join a channel, schedule a shared channel meeting and collaborate on files.
b) Chat with Teams, which allows users to chat seamlessly with people outside of a work network. Teams users at work can chat with any Teams user with a Microsoft personal email address or phone number and remain within the security and compliance protocols of their organization.
Both innovative features mean that employees across multiple companies can collaborate as one extended team, and only receive the correct access necessary to do their best work.
c) Microsoft Loop, a new app that moves freely across applications, enabling teams to think, plan and create together. You can organize everything you need for your project – files, links and data from other apps – into a single workspace. It is easy to use portable components to complete work in chat, meetings or documents, knowing that the content always stays in sync.
All Office and Microsoft 365 tools will be available in the metaverse for work conceived by Mocrosoft, including the new Clipchamp, that empowers creators of all skill levels to create, edit, and share beautiful, professional-looking videos easily and quickly in Office.
Image over the headline.- Mesh for Teams.© Microsoft
Related external links:
To know more innovations to be introduced for Teams, click here
To know more about Loop, click here