Microsoft rolls out echo cancellation and other AI features for Teams calls
Microsoft has announced the availability of a few new AI-based features for Teams, specifically with a focus on improving call quality. While Teams already had a few AI features for video and voice enhancements, there are a few new ones being announced today, such as echo cancellation and de-reverberation.
Echo cancellation is about what you’d expect. It addresses a fairly common issue where sound can loop between the input and output devices on your PC, causing an echo effect as the sound replays over and over. Using artificial intelligence, Teams can detect the difference between your voice and the sound from the speaker, and eliminate the echo without distorting your voice.
De-reverberation, on the other hand, addresses specific scenarios where the acoustics of your room can cause your voice to sound shallow, particularly when you’re far away from the microphone. In these scenarios, Teams can now use a machine learning model to take the captured audio and make it clearer, as if you’re speaking into a close-range microphone.
Another significant feature is interruptibility, as Microsoft calls it. This is specifically meant for situations where you’re not using a headset, so the sound on the call is coming through your speakers. With video calls allowing for two-way audio, it’s difficult for a computer to capture what you say without also capturing the voice of the person speaking, which can make it hard to hear what you’re saying if you try to interrupt the person speaking at that time. That’s why you probably use a headset for calls. Now, Microsoft trained an AI model with 30,000 hours of speech samples to be able to filter out undesired voices, so everyone’s audio can come through cleanly, even when they’re talking at the same time.
These seem to be the only features that are truly new today, but Microsoft also highlighted a few other capabilities that have rolled out recently. For example, Teams already supports background noise suppression during calls so others don’t have to be distracted by what’s happening around you.
Microsoft Teams also has AI-based optimizations for video calls, such as content-specific optimizations that makes video smoother or sharper depending on the content you’re showing. For example, a document or whiteboard may need to be sharper to improve legibility, while a video feed of a person needs to be smoother. Microsoft also recently rolled out lighting adjustments in Teams powered by AI.