3D avatars are now in Microsoft Teams, but I wonder which company will allow it

Microsoft Teams is rolling out 3D avatars in an effort to get more people to “turn on their camera.”

In a blog post, the company announced that it is now releasing 3D avatars for Microsoft Teams via public preview. Those who signed up for the preview can now transform themselves into a fully customizable avatar while they’re on a video call. Microsoft says that only 30% of people join meetings with video enabled, so this feature was created to encourage more people to join meetings with more than just a static photo or initials.

The company says the avatars will help people who need a video break and more.

Avatars for Microsoft Teams offers an alternative to the current binary version of video or no video. Avatars gives teams a much-needed break from the camera while allowing them to collaborate effectively. Include more people in the conversation, whether they need a break from video fatigue, are joining from a different time zone, or just feel more comfortable with their video off.

In the video below, you can see how to set up, customize and use your 3D avatar during a team call. Check it out below.

The company says they’ve made a number of improvements to the public preview release. According to Microsoft, they have implemented a new lighting system that improves performance and enhances skin tones. They’ve also added more customization options for your wardrobe, headwear and accessories. Microsoft’s latest update is all about emojis. The company says that “if you react using Teams’ emoji reactions, your avatar will mimic that reaction with their body.”

This is all great. If Microsoft can increase engagement and collaboration in meetings by letting people turn themselves into avatars, I’m all for it. The problem I see is not the technology, but the willingness of businesses to adopt it. I immediately wonder if companies will balk at letting employees use this option, claiming they “want to see your REAL face”. We’ll have to see, but Microsoft is clearly presenting the data to prove that such a feature is necessary for all of us who work remotely.

Today’s public preview comes on the same day Microsoft announced its new version of Teams, which is also available in limited preview.

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