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Microsoft’s new Intelligent Speakers deliver its promised meeting room of the future

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These speakers can transcribe and translate meetings automatically

Microsoft’s new Intelligent Speakers.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft demonstrated prototype hardware a few years ago that promised meeting rooms of the future with automatic speaker identification, transcription, and even translation. Microsoft now claims it’s delivering this for real with new Intelligent Speakers, small puck-like devices that can identify up to 10 different voices in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

These speakers will automatically generate a transcript during a meeting, with individual identification of those speaking. They will also help remote attendees follow along and see who’s talking in a meeting. Microsoft has teamed up with Yealink and Epos to create the hardware, and it even supports translation if you want to follow a meeting in a different language.

These Intelligent Speakers identify who is speaking and automatically transcribe.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft first demonstrated a concept for this exact scenario at Build in 2018. Although these devices were clearly originally designed for a time before the pandemic, they could help bridge the frustrating gap of working remotely and trying to participate in and follow in-person meetings.

Microsoft hasn’t announced pricing or exact availability just yet, but the company’s Surface Hub is also certified as a device capable of being an Intelligent Speaker.