News & Analysis

Microsoft is using AI to make your video calls engaging – though there’s a catch


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Video calls have become a primary part of the new normal. However, no matter how hard we try, we end up gazing at our image rather than looking at the camera, making the “eye-contact” part go missing from the conversation.

This is a common issue faced by almost everyone regularly. However, Microsoft’s solution to the drifting gaze is known as “Eye Contact” that makes use of AI to help adjust your gaze and keep eye contact with other attendees on the call.

This feature was spotted in the recent Windows Insider build and is compatible with popular video calling services like Skype, Microsoft Teams, and even third-party software like Zoom, Google Meet etc. The Eye Contact feature works in landscape mode only and as per the company, enabling this results in an increased battery drain.

This uses the artificial intelligence prowess offered by Microsoft’s ARM-based custom SQ1 processor and makes it look like that the user’s gaze is fixed towards the camera even when he or she is looking somewhere else. However, Surface X laptop is the only device that comes with the said processor and hence sadly the feature is currently “exclusive” to the Surface X users.

It is somewhat similar to Apple’s “FaceTime Attention Correction” that made its presence felt in the beta releases of iOS 13 but have been deferred until the release of iOS 14.

For the people stuck in the confines of their homes and will continue to work remotely, this feature could be a godsend and will surely make video calls a pleasant and immersive experience, only in case Microsoft find a way to make it work for Windows users who are not using a Surface X or bake the feature somehow in the tools like Skype or Microsoft Teams.


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