Microsoft has spent the last two years introducing glitzy new productivity capabilities to Teams, and now, due to artificial intelligence, the corporation is revamping the fundamentals. We’ve all been on a call where someone’s room acoustics make it difficult to hear them or witnessed two people trying to communicate simultaneously, resulting in an awkward “no, you go ahead” situation. Microsoft’s new AI-powered voice quality improvements could help to reduce or even eliminate these annoyances daily.
Into a New Beginning
As reported by The Verge, Microsoft is now utilizing machine learning models to improve room acoustics, so you won’t sound like you’re in a cave any longer. In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s Robert Aichner, a principal program manager for intelligent conversation and communications cloud, says, “While we’ve been trying our hardest with digital signal processing to do an excellent job in Teams, we’ve now started using machine learning for the first time to build echo cancellation where you can truly reduce echo from all the different devices.”
Microsoft has been testing this for months, putting its models to the test in the real world to ensure. Team users see the echo reduction and call quality improvements. The software developer used 30,000 hours of speech.
“We also model roughly 100,000 different rooms… acoustics play a huge role in echo cancellation,” Aichner says. As a result, call audio quality has improved significantly, and echo has been eliminated, allowing numerous persons to speak simultaneously. In the video above, you can see all the new features in action.
If Teams detect sound bouncing or echoing in a room, the model will transform and process captured audio to sound like Teams players are speaking into a close-range microphone rather than an echoey mess.
The ability for people to interrupt one other on Teams calls without the awkward overlap where you can’t hear is the most striking feature.