Microsoft's annual build conference is where coder demos are most loved by attendees. But on the first day of Build 2018, a conceptual demo of how meetings might work in the future received just as much attention and applause, if not more.
Microsoft has a few of these smart meeting scenarios a year ago in a podcast that described Cortana conference rooms that could one day become commonplace. I expect that the second version of the company's Surface Hub conferencing system, which could be available by the end of 201
Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant, focuses on the types of scenarios. Cortana has fallen behind Alexa and Google Home in terms of the number of available capabilities and devices that integrate the service. Microsoft is embarking on its Alexa Cortana integration partnership, which was announced last year but is still only available in limited, closed preview (without final ETA date) – as a way to use Cortana on more devices like Amazon's Echo.
But the company also integrates Cortana with more of their own apps and services, including Team Workplace Chat Product. Outlook; and Windows (via the shell) to make it available to users, where they are, and in the context in which they work.
In the "future of modern meetings" demo, officials showed a prototype of a conference device on a desk that would record audio and video and pair with Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Graph to enable real-time automated identification of meeting participants and transcriptionists real-time translation. Cortana can help attendees set up meetings, find meeting rooms, and set tasks and other types of reminders within documents.
(There is not a word when Microsoft hires or works with another company to supply this type. But I've heard that Microsoft might eventually be able to make its own Surface conference headset with Surface PCs and devices as well Other Windows 10 computers could be used.
Microsoft is also looking for ways to integrate HoloLens augmented reality glasses and other types of mixed-reality headsets into the smart meeting environment.
CNET: Build 2018: Livestream, start time, what to expect
During Build on May 7, Microsoft showed some participants using such devices to spatially view data as part of the Smart Meetings demo, according to Microsoft representatives the company is adding this kind of spatial data to the Microsoft Graph programming interface.
Microsoft employees also have two new business-oriented apps for Introducing HoloLens, available on May 22 as a preview Remote Assist is a hands-free device for video calls to first-time and customer service representatives, and Microsoft Layout is an app for designing mixed-reality rooms using 3D models with hologram layouts. The team is also building two new augmented / mixed reality apps for HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets: one for Training and Dev and another for product-oriented collaboration.
Microsoft bosses have also come up with the upcoming Project Kinect for Azure Developer Kit. This sensor kit includes Microsoft's next-generation 1MP depth camera, 4K RGB camera, and a 360-degree Azure service microphone array. It appears that the Kinect for Azure kit may not be available until 2019.
The conference system prototype shown by Microsoft may use this camera module (?). Devices containing this type of hardware could also be integrated into holoportation and telepresence capabilities, which in turn could be part of Microsoft's vision for smarter, better meetings.