Microsoft Teams 2.0 Coming Soon, Spoke.ai Brings Generative AI Into Slack, More News
Microsoft is getting ready to launch a new version of Microsoft Teams to make it less taxing on PCs and laptops.
According to The Verge, the new version is on its way next month and is already being tested across Microsoft. The report goes on to state Microsoft Teams 2.0 will use up to 50% less memory, have a lower impact on CPUS and will be easier on laptop batteries.
The updated Teams aims to fix the sluggish response time that results during meetings and other actions that require heavy memory usage. According to The Verge, Microsoft laid the groundwork for these changes when it introduced Windows 11 last year, but that largely impacted individuals. Businesses have found it difficult to change over, particularly as Microsoft was still rebuilding the client.
While Microsoft has made no secret that it's rebuilding Teams, the exact timeline and details of the changes were unclear.
What the new version actually delivers remains to be seen, any improvements in performance times will be welcome to anyone working in Teams.
Spoke.ai Brings Generative AI to Slack
In the latest in what feels like a tidal wave of Generative AI start-ups, Berlin-based Spoke.ai is looking to bring Generative AI into the workplace by applying it to the dozens of communication tools and apps across the digital workplace.
By doing this, it hopes to provide workers with ways of keeping on top of all the messages and content that is landing in front of them from third-party tools and apps.
This is no small feat. Citing research published in Harvard Business Review in 2016, Spoke.ai co-founder Carl Brenssell noted that even then, the number of hours employees spent collaborating had jumped by 50% over the previous two decades. He went on to share research from 2021 which found that collaborative tasks (meetings, responding to emails, answering instant messages) now fill up to 85% of our working days.
In response to this, earlier this week Spoke.ai announced a €2 million ($2.1 million) pre-seed funding round, as well as the open beta of Spoke App for Slack.
According to a Spoke.ai blog post, the new app for Slack will provide summaries of complicated discussions taking place in a Slack channel by aggregating and prioritizing information.
The post went on to state the company is working on a number of other workplace communication tools including Jira / Linear, Github, Miro, Figma, Confluence and Notion in two significant areas:
- Smart Inbox and Outbox: Summarizing notifications across tools to reach the inbox faster.
- Generative Knowledge Base: This includes semantic search that connects tickets, documents and conversations across tools.
For now, though, anyone who wants to see Spoke.ai in action can add the beta Slack app to their workspace. The company states that, for now at least, it is free and promises it will always make available a free version.
Otter.ai Releases New Meetings Assistant, OtterPilot
This week also saw the release of Otter.ai’s new OtterPilot, which the Mountain View, Calif.-based company describes as a smart AI meeting assistant.
The company explained in a statement that OtterPilot uses AI to automate the entire meeting process, along with live notes, automated slide capture and automated summaries. The news arrives the same week that Otter.ai claims to have reached a milestone, notably the transcription of one billion meetings.
Anything that makes meetings easier, or anything that makes it easier to pull content, data or insights from meetings is always going to be welcome, and this is exactly what the new assistant does.
Once the meeting is finished, OtterPilot creates an AI-generated summary of what was discussed at the meeting in the form of topics. Everyone who took part in the meeting then receives these automated summaries and notes via email, with links to the main points in the meeting and when they happened.
While Otter.ai has been working on other projects similar to this, according to the company this is an entirely new release. Last summer, for example, it pushed a new Automated Outline tool into beta. The company claims OtterPilot is better than that as it has additional functionality, including automated creation of images of slides during virtual meetings.
It can also capture slide presentations and paste them into meeting notes. Ultimately, Otter.ai co-founder and CEO Sam Liang said in the statement, OtterPilot will eliminate note-taking and improve the productivity of meetings.
Otter Assistant, the company’s bot that makes joining meetings easier through calendars as well as transcribing conversations will become part of OtterPilot.
Liang founded Otter.ai with Yun Fu in 2016 to provide speech to text transcription applications. Its integrations with some of the software giants, including Microsoft and Google have introduced the software to a wide range of businesses. Otter Assistant in Microsoft Teams, for example, makes it possible for anyone in a Microsoft Teams meeting to record, transcribe and share meeting notes. While Teams already had something similar, it is a little cumbersome with other added functionality, whereas Otter.ai is dedicated to dealing with this kind of data. It provides the same functionality for Google Meet and Zoom.
However, the already competitive market is likely to get tighter in the coming months, especially after Microsoft announced the integration of OpenAI’s ChatGPT into Teams.
Otter.ai has raised $63 million in funding through multiple funding rounds, the last of which was in February 2021, according to Crunchbase.
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Google Workspace Gets ChatGPT Technology
Otter.ai isn't the only company working to improve its presentation capabilities. Google Workspace has been working on improving its Slides presentation software. While that in itself is worth noting, what makes it more interesting is that Google is using an OpenAI GPT-driven plug-in to do the work.
The new plug-in, called MagicSlides, uses the GPT technology to help users create slide decks in seconds, according to the Google Workspace Marketplace, where the new app recently appeared.
The app is an extension that fits into a sidebar. When you type in the title of your presentation, the number of slides you would like and any additional context you would like to include, the app creates a rough deck based on available information.
There is a small presentation of the extension below, which has been developed by Indian App Guy.
There is more at stake here though. The whole world of chatbots and their role in the workplace is expanding quickly. Google Bard, Google’s answer to ChatGPT, is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
In much the same way ChatGPT is expected to be added across the Microsoft ecosystem, it seems unthinkable that once Bard arrives it will not be used to power other Google tools like Sheets and Docs.
While neither Bard nor ChatGPT are finished products and both require a lot more work before they can deliver finished presentations or similar, we can expect to see rapid improvements in this area and see their uses in the workplace expand.
Privacy Problems in the Metaverse
All of these technologies are only as good as the data they are built on. One of the major problems with all of this data is privacy, specifically, how to keep the data being used to build AI models private.
Bots aren't the only technology causing problems here. The metaverse will also likely be a major issue for organizations in this respect in coming years, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.
The findings show that without the creation of new safeguards to protect users, it's likely that no one’s data is going to be safe.
The findings were based a on study conducted at the Center for Responsible Decentralized Intelligence (RDI) and led by Vivek Nair, of 50,000 subjects which resulted in 2.5 million virtual reality (VR) data recordings associated with them when playing the VR game Beat Saber. This is the largest dataset of user interaction in VR to serve as a basis for research.
Although there's a lot to consider, the single most striking conclusion from the research is that it takes very little data to identify individual users in the metaverse. According to the research with only 100 seconds taken from motion data, individuals could be uniquely identified with 94% accuracy by using advanced AI analysis.
Some of the researchers were even concerned about new EEG sensors that can detect unique brain activity through the scalp.
While this may be an extreme example of what Nair’s team studied, the fact that this kind of eventuality is even being considered points to a much bigger problem in the metaverse than previously considered.
Its early days in the metaverse, so it is too early to estimate how big a problem this will be in organizations. However, as tech companies start to build these platforms, it's a good reminder to sort out the privacy issues from the very start.
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About the Author
David is a full-time journalist based in Ireland. A partisan of ‘green’ living and conservation, he is particularly interested in information management and how enterprise content management, analytics, big data and cloud computing impact on it.