Microsoft is finally adding its 3D avatars for all Microsoft Teams users starting in May, according to an update to its Microsoft 365 roadmap. Microsoft originally announced the avatars feature in 2021 and has been testing it privately in recent months.
Avatars in Microsoft Teams are designed to let people avoid appearing on camera during meetings. If you don’t feel for video or you need a break from constant calls then you can swap in a 3D avatar that will animate based on your vocal cues alone — no camera needed at all.
“It’s not binary, so I can choose how I want to show up, whether it’s video or an avatar, and there’s a variety of customized options to choose how you want to be present in a meeting,” said Katie Kelly, principal product manager for Microsoft Mesh, in an interview with The Verge in 2021. “We are able to interpret your vocal cues to animate that avatar, so it does feel present and it does feel like it’s there with you.”
Microsoft is also planning to use these avatars in its immersive 3D meetings that it has partnered with Meta to roll out to VR headsets. Microsoft is making a Teams client for Meta Quest headsets to allow people to hold meetings in VR with 3D avatars that feature floating emoji and animations like the ability to raise hands.