In today’s update, Microsoft Teams has launched a new model called “Together Mode” that pulls characters from video conferencing out of the background and places them in a virtual auditorium background. Teams currently supports up to 49 people online at the same time, and the overall effect is like sitting together and listening.
The aim of Together Mode is to help remote workers, especially children forced to stay at home, reduce and overcome the frustration and psychological stress of long-term social isolation. This is a useful exploration of Microsoft Teams in this area.
The model was driven by VR pioneer and senior researcher Jaron Lanier, who says The Together Mode is partly driven by VR research into how people interact with virtual users. While it may be strange to be careful, it can allow us to better observe the reactions of other colleagues and classmates, and can reduce social stress.