Microsoft’s new smart speakers deliver the promised meeting room of the future

Microsoft introduced a hardware prototype a few years ago that promised meeting rooms of the future with automatic speaker identification, transcription and even translation. Microsoft now claims it’s offering this for real with new smart speakers, little puck-shaped devices that can identify up to 10 different voices in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

These speakers will automatically generate a transcript during a meeting, with individual identification of those speaking. They will also help remote participants track and see who is speaking in a meeting. Microsoft has partnered with Yealink and Epos to create the material, and it even supports translation if you want to attend a meeting in another language.

These smart speakers automatically identify who is speaking and transcribe.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft first introduced a concept for this exact scenario during Build in 2018. While these devices were clearly originally designed for a time before the pandemic, they could help bridge the frustrating gap of working remotely. and trying to attend and follow in-person meetings.

Microsoft has yet to announce exact pricing or availability, but the company’s Surface Hub is also certified as a device capable of being a smart speaker.