The Together mode view in Teams lets users feel they’re sitting in the same room with other participants.

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Microsoft Teams announced a new AI-powered feature that will make virtual meetings seem real by digitally placing participants in a shared background.

The professional teamwork platform said it is using AI segmentation technology to bring its client users together.

The Together mode view in Teams lets users feel they’re sitting in the same room with other participants. It also helps reduce background noise, making it easier for others to pick up on non-verbal cues and have conversations in a near-normal way, according to a company blog post.

The feature does not have a seat reservation option. So, if someone leaves the meeting midway, and wants to re-join, they may not be allocated the same position in the digital conference room.

On the screen interface part, Together mode works well on tablets, and much better on big monitors as the pixels are optimised for viewing on larger screens.

It may give a top-class output for smartphone users, but can work slightly better if a user props their phone up to face the camera at a head-on angle and does not move around during the meeting.

Teams plans to roll out Together mode’s auditorium view in August, and make it generally available during autumn months. It will also be adding more views in the future.

The idea behind digitally placed meeting comes from Microsoft’s in-house research. The company’s Human Factor Lab had conducted studies on how humans interact with technology.

While trying to understand, through a study on how the brain responds to collaborating remotely through computer screens compared to in person, researchers at the lab learnt that people find remote collaboration more mentally challenging.

In another study, they found people tend to get tired after an intense 30-40 minutes meetings.

“Early research using biosensors that measure brain activity show that the brain exerts less effort when participating in a meeting using Together mode when compared to the grid view,” Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft 365, said in a blog post.

“This suggests Together mode may help with the feeling of meeting fatigue some remote workers are experiencing.”

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