Microsoft Unveils Signature Teams Rooms Design for Face-to-Face Meetings
Microsoft this week announced the publication of its "Signature Teams Rooms" design, which aims to make meetings with remote participants seem more natural and inclusive.
A Signature Teams Room uses particular equipment, furniture and an ultrawide-angle, front-of-the-room artificial intelligence-enabled camera to make it seem as if people are facing remote meeting participants. The camera is described as capturing images of the remote participants in individual feeds to enable this scenario.
An Internal Microsoft Project Available to All
Microsoft's IT team and Microsoft Teams group initiated the Signature Teams Rooms design for Microsoft employee meetings, but the plans and equipment details are now published for anyone to use.
Microsoft's Signature Teams Rooms design publication emphasized that this sort of arrangement for online meetings is mostly for organizations needing face-to-face types of meetings.
Signature Teams Rooms are not meant to be a replacement for all other meeting spaces inside your organization, but rather to act as a supplement to existing meeting spaces that utilize Microsoft Teams. They should be deployed strategically within your organization to the spaces and locations where face-to-face interactions with remote meeting participants will be most valued.
To that end, Signature Teams Rooms use curved C-shaped furniture for the office participants in the conference room, whose images are captured by the ultrawide-angle camera. A Microsoft Teams feature called "Front Row" is used to scale and put the images of the remote participants at an eye-level view.
Microsoft also expects to improve the audio portion for Teams Rooms via spatial audio, where "sound emanates from the direction of the person speaking." The spatial audio capability was described in the publication as coming "in the future."
Microsoft Surface Hub 2S To Become Teams Rooms Device
In other Teams Rooms news, Microsoft announced late last month that its Surface Hub 2S, a proprietary Microsoft product, "will join the Microsoft Teams Rooms family."
Teams Rooms devices previously were distinguished as non-Microsoft-built hardware devices running Microsoft software. Now, Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S device is getting that same branding, which will start for new machines "later this year."
With the Teams Rooms branding switch, new Surface Hub 2S devices "will become the first touch-enabled board running Teams Rooms on Windows." Its Whiteboard drawing capability will remain, but the other installed Microsoft apps won't be available (Surface Hub devices typically gave access to Office apps). The Teams Rooms Surface Hub 2S product will be able to join Zoom and Webex meetings. It will get Teams Rooms features such as "Front Row, persistent chat, consistent remote management capabilities and more."
Microsoft also touted the Surface Hub 2S branding switch to Teams Rooms as better enabling management capabilities via the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager. Microsoft promised as well that these coming Surface Hub 2 Teams Rooms devices will be compatible with "third-party Teams Rooms devices."
It'll be possible for existing Surface Hub 2S devices to "migrate to this experience at a future date," the announcement added. Current users of the Windows 10 Team Edition operating system on the Surface Hub 2S will be supported "through October 14, 2025."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.