Windows maker Microsoft is bringing some new AI features to its video conferencing software Microsoft Teams. The new improvements are aimed at boosting audio and video quality on calls.
The features were announced in a blog post from Microsoft. These include Echo Cancellation, De-reverbration, real-time screen optimisations for video playback, and brightness and soft focus video enhancements. Among these, echo cancellation eliminates echo when someone has their microphone too close to the speaker. “Microsoft Teams uses AI to recognize the difference between sound from a speaker and the user’s voice, eliminating the echo without suppressing speech or inhibiting the ability of multiple parties to speak at the same time,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
De-reverberation adjusts for poor room acoustics. This means that in specific environments, room acoustics may cause sound to bounce, or reverberate, causing the user’s voice to sound shallow as if they’re speaking within a cavern. Teams will now use machine learning to convert ccaptured audio signal to sound as if users are speaking into a close-range mic.
There is also interruptibility that Microsoft has brought for more natural conversations. “A natural element of conversation is the ability to interrupt for clarification or validation. This is accomplished through full-duplex (two-way) transmission of audio, allowing users to speak and hear others at the same time,” Microsoft said in a blog post. When you are not using a set of headphones, it is difficult to remove echo while maintaining full-duplex audio. Microsoft Teams uses a “trained” model that has been fed with 30,000 hours of speech samples to retain desired voices while suppressing unwanted audio signals, resulting in a more fluid dialogue.
The new update also brings better background noise suppression on Microsoft Teams with the company’s proprietary AI-based noise suppression now being a default feature for all users. Apart from this, Microsoft says that the AI has also helped with better video and screen sharing quality.
Microsoft has said that it has started rolling out the new AI enhancements for Microsoft Teams, and are expected to be generally available in the coming months.