MS Teams highlights new AI to filter noise


In an impressive attempt to separate the signal from the noise, Microsoft’s new updates for its Teams communication management software include technology that’s learning to recognize your voice.


Ian Sherr reports at CNET on new capability to isolate a user’s voice for what Microsoft calls “real-time noise suppression.”


The results should make it easy to filter out things like sirens or barking dogs in the background, or a conference call participant chowing down on crunchy foods (in the past, these users have relied on muting their phones, which prohibits them from chiming in.)


Although Sherr’s reporting shows that Microsoft has had this project in the works for a while, the new functionality is coming out at a very serendipitous time, as concerns around an unprecedented epidemic of coronavirus are leading more companies and institutions to log onto the Microsoft Teams platform.


Schools and businesses are increasingly using Teams as a top conferencing tool as the United States and other countries around the world institute extreme policies of social distancing to limit the spread of the virus.


“Our customers have certainly turned to Teams during this challenging time, and we’ve seen usage spikes in markets most impacted by COVID-19,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 corporate vice president, told VentureBeat as reported by Emil Protalinski there today. “We measured 32 million DAU on March 11, before we began to see the full impact that COVID-19 is having on usage.”


In fact, the adoption has been so sudden and so widespread that this week, the tech company found itself scrambling to meet demand, as shown in these reports.


Meanwhile, the news at competitor Slack has been somewhat different, including this tale of five baristas from corporate headquarters getting guaranteed wages belatedly after pressure including a GoFundMe campaign.


One way or another, remote work vendors are going to profit handsomely from this enormous and sudden sea change. Our lives are going to change – and so are our tools. MS Teams promises to have a hand in this transition.