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Google is testing AI-generated Meet video backgrounds

Google is testing AI-generated Meet video backgrounds


Type an AI prompt for ‘Luxurious living room interior,’ and suddenly, you’re video calling from a new tax bracket.

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Illustration of Google’s wordmark, written in red and pink on a dark blue background.
Illustration: The Verge

I am not big on blurring out or replacing my office background with premade images, but then again, I’m fortunate enough to have a small environment I’m completely in control of at my disposal, and I want people to see the Doctor Zhivago DVD on the shelf behind me. I could, however, see myself using the new AI-generated backgrounds Google is now testing in its Workspace Labs (via XDA-Developers / 9to5Google).

The feature was spotted by Artem Russakovskii, who tweeted about it this afternoon. For those who already have the feature enabled on their account, activating it is as simple as either clicking on the effects icon in the bottom right of your preview video prior to joining a meeting, typing in a prompt describing what you’d like, then choosing from a selection of categories, as seen in this handy GIF from Google:

A gif showing the AI-generated backgrounds in action.
Image: Google

Then, if you’re already in a meeting and want to change things, the option is tucked away in the “Apply vision effects” option in the three dots menu. I tried to test it, and I am sad to report that I don’t seem to be among those in the initial rollout despite being in Google’s testing program. Google says on its support page that the feature is “rolling out gradually and may not be available to you yet.”

It’s probably just as well, as I would just try to create horrific H.R. Giger-themed rollercoaster backgrounds or something, which is decidedly unprofessional.

But maybe you’ll be luckier than me. If you want to try and aren’t already part of the Workspace Labs testing program, you can request to join on Google’s site. Afterward, if you forget what I said above, just head over to the Google support page describing how to get AI-generated backgrounds for your meeting and check it out for yourself.

There’s a major caveat to be aware of if you sign up, however: Google’s Workspace Labs privacy policy for personal accounts says, “human reviewers read, annotate, and process your Workspace Labs data” to improve the features. You can find similar language on the support page linked above.

Google’s AI work tools are in competition with Microsoft 365’s AI Copilot suite, which Microsoft said it’s charging businesses $30 monthly per person to use.

Google started signups for its Search and AI Workspace Labs in May, giving users the opportunity to serve as guinea pigs for its Bard chatbot, as well as other AI experiments it announced at Google I/O. Users in the program can test, for instance, Bard’s AI-generated summaries or its NotebookLM feature that can comb through your docs, training itself to be your personal assistant.