EP 46: How to Use Microsoft’s Immersive Space in Teams

Your Ultimate Guide to Leveraging Mesh and Immersive Spaces for Enhanced Collaboration

In this captivating episode of Tech UNMUTED, explore the innovative immersive spaces feature in Microsoft Teams. Discover how avatars, spatial audio, and virtual environments transform remote meetings into dynamic, interactive experiences. From overcoming challenges with team member participation to engaging in virtual networking and brainstorming sessions, this episode offers a comprehensive guide to maximizing collaboration in the digital age. Learn how to navigate these virtual spaces, customize settings for optimal interaction, and leverage immersive spaces for everything from stand-up meetings to onboarding. Dive into the future of teamwork with us, where connectivity and creativity know no bounds.

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Transcript for this Episode:

INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

GEORGE: Welcome to the latest episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today we're going to take a look at immersive spaces in Microsoft Teams. I'm going to flip it over to Santi in a second. What you're going to see is a number of folks from our team have joined this immersive space. We're going to move around a little bit and we're going to demonstrate some of the capabilities of this space.

The one thing I will tell you, there's a couple of things you need to know to get into this. If you're in a Teams meeting, you simply go into View in the meeting. If it is enabled in your organization, one of the pull-downs, it goes gallery, speaker, together, and a couple of other things, is immersive space. There are two requirements; one, that it's turned on and two, that you have an avatar created.

The avatar is what will be represented in this space and what you're already seeing on the screen right now. There does seem to be some other challenge that we've not figured out yet because we have a couple of team members you're going to see on the screen on the wall who are unable to join it from an immersive space standpoint and we need to sort out why that is. With that, I'm going to turn it over to Santi.

SANTI: Yes. I was going to say, but the fact that we had some challenges with some of our team members joining gives us an opportunity to see what happens when somebody either can't join or decides not to partake in the immersive space. As you can see, behind George, we have Melissa, we have Ruzanna, and we have McKensie as individual tiles on the wall. Of course, George is now blocking them. [chuckles]

I am recording this in first person, so you will always see my view for this particular podcast. This is what you'll see as a first person; you'll see either avatars in the room with you and those who are not in a room as tiles on the wall. Now, I will say that the other part of the experience that you may or may not pick up as we do this recording is there is spatial audio in this particular immersive space. As people speak into space, if they are to my left, I will hear them on the left side of my headphones. Same thing, if they're to my right, I'll hear them to the right side of my headphones.

Something else is that it is distance-sensitive, meaning right now we're all gathered here in this room, but if somebody starts to walk away from us, the audio will fade out and eventually they won't hear us anymore. Now this is great because we can create a virtual environment where we can do, for example, I don't know how many have done this in the past, I have, stand-up meetings. The purpose of a stand-up meeting, when we were all back in the office long, long, long ago, [chuckles] was to make the meetings really short. We would have stand-up meetings because nobody wanted to stand around for too long. You can do that here as well.

Also brainstorming sessions are great because it's not just tiles on the screen, but you can actually have this environment and start having some fun with it. Maybe a casual get-together. Maybe it's a virtual team happy hour and everybody pops into these immersive spaces just to do a celebration or just have some fun. Virtual networking session, that I like. Think about it. We could potentially invite other folks who are not part of our organization to partake in this immersive space and have a networking session and have folks gather in different parts of this immersive space and have individual conversations. That's actually pretty cool.

Also, I think it would be really cool to do onboarding meetings, like when you're onboarding somebody and introduce them to different members of the team in this space. It breaks the ice. I think it's a more relaxed, more fun way of doing things like that. Those are the use cases. It's another way, if you would, of collaborating and getting the team together. Now I do know that there's a whole other universe of things that we can do with immersive spaces, with the mesh environments in particular, but right now we're just going to focus on Teams immersive space.

Hey, George, if you could maybe share something. I want to show what folks can expect to see when somebody shares content, if George is around. There it is. As you guys see, George's screen starts to come up. I assume that was an artificial intelligence generated dragon. Is that what that is? It's pretty cool.

GEORGE: It is.

SANTI: Yes, it's pretty cool. George, I can tell you're at my left. I just heard you in my left ear. What you saw there was in the immersive space, we had a picture hanging on the wall. That picture just converted into a screen. Imagine, we could have a little team huddle here and share content or a PowerPoint or something and everybody can follow along. That's what it looks like.

I think the cool thing to do now is maybe just let's explore the space a little bit. I'll tell you what, Lehanna, maybe you go over to the library over to my right. Dave, maybe you can go over to the fire pit. George, how about I meet you over to the left where the little quiz game is at, at the end of this room over to the left? I'm going to use my mouse.

Ladies, we'll be right back. The ladies who are tiled on the wall, hang tight, we'll be right back. I'm going to use my mouse to navigate over. First of all, if you click and hold and turn your mouse, let's do it again, there we go, you can turn your body around and then you can either teleport by either pointing at an area on the floor and then doing a click and hold. I'll do that right now. Boom, teleporting right over. Okay, so you can do that. You can also use the keys on your keyboard. For example, W is walk, so I get to walk forward if I hit W. If I hit the S, I walk backwards. If I hit the A, it moves me to the left and D moves me to the right.

GEORGE: The other piece to point out, Lehanna was in the library room. She now went outside, she can no longer hear us. She's in a completely separate space. Dave is out there. I can see him over your shoulder as he's out by the fireplace. There happens to be a video game out there as well that you can play with somebody and a couple of other things.

SANTI: We have a quiz game here. We click on it. It says, "What's your favorite board game?" As I hold my cursor on that bubble, you can see my avatar's hand just came up and it's pointing at it. I guess if you just click on it, it'll probably change to the next question. It's a little quiz game. You get to go with your team and everybody gets to answer the questions. It's one way of getting to know each other. It's fun, interactive. I'll tell you what, I'm going to move towards Lehanna. Let me use my arrows on my keyboard to turn around. She's out here somewhere. Where'd she go?

GEORGE: She's down by the lake.

SANTI: Oh, she is down by the lake. Where is she? Oh, there she is. Okay, perfect. I'm going to try and catch up with her over here. If I point to the floor, I teleport this way. Hey, Lehanna.


SANTI: Hey, come on over here. I'm going to sit right here on this couch by clicking on the couch just like this. Now I'm actually sitting. As you heard, Lehanna walked by and she said hi. I can hear voices in the distance too because, again, it's space sensitive. I can hear George in distance. There's music, ambient music, because this particular part of the room has music. I can hear that. Very, very cool. I'm going to go join Dave over at the fire pit. Hey, Dave.

DAVE: Yes.

SANTI: I came here to the fire pit to join you. I'm trying to turn around and find you. I can't find you.

DAVE: You're here someplace. I can hear you.

SANTI: Oh, hold on. Let me move back a little bit. There it is. Okay. I think our avatars blend. I'm right behind you. Maybe turn to your left a little bit.

DAVE: Maybe we're right on top of each other.

SANTI: Yes, we were. That's pretty cool. There you are. Now, as you can see, Dave and I are having a conversation. As George comes in, he'll start to hear our conversation, same thing with Lehanna. George, what are you doing? He has the little-- what do you call it?

DAVE: Cornhole bag.

SANTI: The cornhole bag.


DAVE: Bean bag.

SANTI: The bean bag. All right. I hear Lehanna to my left. Oh, there she is. Hey, how are you? You're now within my first-person view. That's awesome. I appreciate the emojis, the reactions. Yes, that's a good thing. Can you give me a couple of different reactions so we can see what they look like? That was a thumbs-up.

[sound effect]

SANTI: Oh, there's the heart and the clapping, and laughing. That's awesome. Just so you know, what happens is the emoji, the emojis pop up on top of your head, but then the avatar obviously mimics also what you're trying to express. Pretty cool. All right, I say we go over to the cornhole. Let's go check that out. I'm going to click over. I'll meet you guys over there. If I can teleport here. This is a game of cornhole that you can now participate with your team. George has been playing by himself here. Let's see. I guess I got to walk right up to it here. His turn. Let me come this way. How do you start the game, George?

GEORGE: You've got to click on it to pick it up, and then you click on it-

SANTI: I see.

GEORGE: -with a quick click, I think, to throw it again.

SANTI: Got it. Then you aim. I guess you click to release.

[sound effect]

SANTI: That's pretty funny.


SANTI: You really got to aim high, don't you?

[sound effect]


SANTI: It's not like--

DAVE: It moves.

SANTI: Well, yours does. Let's see. I'm going to aim right about here.

DAVE: I'm a loser.

SANTI: Mine's not launching. Oh, there it goes. Oh, mine landed outside. All right. Anyway, that's pretty cool. All right, so let's go back to the main gallery where the ladies are waiting for us and we'll wrap this up, talk about the whole immersive experience here. I'll meet you guys over there. I'm going to teleport by clicking, pointing at the floor. Here we are. Very nice.

Now, Lehanna, I’ve got a question for you. Lehanna is our resident gamer. Based on your gaming experience, a question for you-- Wait. There you go. I was not in the room yet. You guys hear me now, right?


SANTI: Okay, I was not quite in the room, so you guys couldn't hear me. Lehanna, I was trying to ask you a question. Since you are our resident professional gamer, [chuckles] question for you, do you find the navigation in this particular immersive space on Teams similar to what you would find on a PC-based game? What's your experience been like?

LEHANNA: The WASD is pretty standard. Usually in games, you can change your mouse settings depending on how you want to move. I like to, when I move my mouse left, then I go left. This is backwards in this situation.

SANTI: I got you. When I switch, you mean. If you just move your mouse to that direction, so you move in that direction. Here, you have to click, hold, and then drag in the opposite direction is what you're saying?


SANTI: Yes. I get it.

LEHANNA: People like that. It makes sense for them. Personally, I don't.

SANTI: Now, there are some settings here. I'm just going to click on my menu here to capture some of the settings in the room. They're pretty basic. I do have controls. There is a menu for controls. When I go to controls, there's a movement section. Guess what? It looks like we could maybe tweak some of the controls a little bit. The direction in which you look, how you teleport, and run automatically. Start running after holding W for four seconds. There's a run function there. There is a display and sound option, so you can tweak.

Now, I will say I did come into this particular setting before we started recording and I lowered the ambient sound, the environmental sounds, because they were loud. We wouldn't be able to really capture good recording sound. You could come in here and determine what kind of volume you want for the environmental sounds, for the effect sounds, and for the incoming voices.

There's also accessibility. There's an accessibility menu. Talks about the contrast and color, hearing and audio. Then there's a section for developers. I haven't really gone too deep into this section. Performance profiler, and then show mesh scripting errors. This is more for developers to, I guess, contribute to the improvement of immersive spaces. Also on the screen, there's a couple of things you can do here. You can select where you want people seated. There's a seating chart, and I can move folks around.

There is an environmental setting which moves you to a completely different environment. Right now, there's three of them. There's three choices. There's Oasis small, Oasis large. We are in the Lake House right now, which I think is the coolest one, honestly. Then, of course, there's the reactions menu right here. As I hit my reactions, I get to see the emojis float up, but you guys should be able to see my avatar also reacting to these.

Pretty cool. This is new. It's a new experience within Microsoft Teams. It's going to be interesting to hear the use cases for it. I know that our team could probably have some fun with it just socializing, just getting together and breaking the monotony, just doing something different. Maybe having a little game of cornhole and see who wins, or the quiz games is pretty cool, or just getting together for a virtual cocktail at a 5 o'clock team meeting over in that little den area that Lehanna was at earlier.

Folks, we just wanted to come and show you a new feature. Again, Teams just keeps on evolving. [chuckles] It's hard to keep up with all the changes, but it just keeps getting more and more interesting. This is yet one more aspect of Teams that we can look forward to. Again, to access this environment, it's got to be enabled. That's number one. Basically, you go to your View Menu. You click on View. You choose Immersive Space. It does take a minute to load. There is a loading process. It creates your avatar, and then it brings you into the space. Once you're in the space, you can interact with folks and with the elements that are inside the space.

I think this brings this podcast to an end. Thank you, everybody, for joining. Till next time, from the new Teams immersive space, stay curious, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.

Episode Credits:

Produced by: Fusion Connect


2023 TMCnet Best Tech Podcast award winner

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Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

Get show notes, transcripts, and other details at www.fusionconnect.com/techUNMUTED. Tech UNMUTED is a production of Fusion Connect, LLC.