With millions of people around the UK still working remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and many businesses choosing to keep some form of remote work in the longer-term, tech firms are ramping up their focus on productivity tools to help keep businesses connected.
Among the largest of these are Microsoft and Google, with the tech giants announcing this month a renewed focus on remote working tech.
One of the most interesting developments from Microsoft comes in the form of its so-called intelligent camera for MS Teams, which can determine who is speaking in a conference room, even when several people are present. It does this through “active speaker tracking”, by monitoring not just audio but facial movements and hand gestures.
Another new development allows multiple participants within a conference room to occupy their own window in the Teams meeting display – just as they would if they were dialling in separately. Furthermore, each participant will be identified using facial recognition software so their name appears automatically.
Businesses can expect to see these changes in the coming months, provided they have meeting room devices manufactured by Jabra, Neat, Poly or Yealink.
Google, meanwhile, has also taken strides to make its meeting and conferencing facilities much easier to use. One such feature will allow users to start a video or audio call on Meet from within Gmail – meaning they no longer need to schedule the meeting in advance.
Companion Mode is also coming to Google Meet, though not until November. This will allow laptop or mobile users to access chat, whiteboards, polls and more at in-room meetings. There will also be live-translated captions available, from English to French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Explaining why these updates were needed to manage the remote working trend, Google’s senior director of product management, Sanaz Ahari, wrote: “As some people return to the office, teams need that ability to flexibly collaborate from anywhere, anytime. The innovations we’re bringing to customers today help bridge the gaps of virtual and in-person collaboration.”