Microsoft just demonstrated a meeting room of the future at the company’s Build developer conference. Meeting rooms, conference calls, and meetings in general are usually the stuff of nightmares, but Microsoft is working on prototype hardware that will make meetings a lot easier. Microsoft’s meeting room demonstration is seriously impressive, and provides a glimpse of what’s possible in the future.
It all starts with a 360-degree camera and microphone array that can detect anyone in a meeting room, greet them, and even transcribe exactly what they say in a meeting regardless of language. Microsoft has been working on translation features for Skype for years, and the meeting room of the future includes this technology.
Microsoft takes the meeting room scenario even further, though. The company is using its artificial intelligence tools to then act on what meeting participants say. If someone says “I’ll follow up with you next week,” then they’ll get a notification in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s Slack competitor, to actually act on that promise. Cortana already does this in Windows 10, but this feature makes a lot of sense in a meeting room scenario.
It’s not clear when this meeting room scenario will become a reality, but Microsoft’s demo seemed to transcribe participants accurately and identified them well. Microsoft has promised new Surface Hub displays in the first half of 2018, and it’s easy to imagine that a future Surface Hub could be the ideal device for Microsoft’s wild meeting room.