Google Meet’s background noise cancellation feature is pretty amazing
Google Meet, formerly known as “Hangouts Meet,” has primarily been the company’s video conferencing platform for G Suite users. Recently, however, Google opened Meet up to everyone as video calling has become much more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in April, Google announced a noise cancellation feature for Meet, and today we’re getting our first look (or listen) at the remarkable results.
G Suite’s director of product management, Serge Lachapelle, demonstrated Google Meet’s noise cancellation in a demo video. Lachapelle used a few common examples of noises that might be annoying during a video call, such as wrapper crinkling, pen clicking, and glass clinking. When the noise cancellation is enabled, the noises are removed, but his voice is still clear.
Lachapelle explains in the video that the feature is possible with machine learning. His voice is sent securely to a process in Google Cloud and it attempts to remove any noises that don’t match his voice. The quality of his voice is slightly degraded when this is happening, especially when there is a lot of noise to remove (the wrapper crinkling), but his speech is still very understandable. It’s pretty amazing.
Google has apparently been working on this feature for over a year and it has been using its own meetings and YouTube clips of people talking to train the AI model. Lachapelle is clear that Google will not use external meetings to train it, though. The new feature will be on by default, but it can be easily toggled off from the menu in a meeting. It’s rolling out in Google Meet for select G Suite customers now and it should roll out to more accounts over time. The feature will be available on the web first, but will eventually come to Android and iOS too.