I hope you’re well.
Another day and another great new Teams feature is here. This time the feature is for Microsoft Teams Rooms.
In a recent post, Microsoft talked about
New interface for Microsoft Teams Room
Before I show you more about the content camera, I wanted to talk about the new interface for Microsoft Teams Room which is part of an update to the application. The new version is 18.104.22.168 (old version 22.214.171.124). The update has started rolling out and will update your MTR automatically. Mine got it last night and was ready for me this morning.
The old interface had the volume slider, room control and settings icons as dedicated buttons along the bottom right of the touch display.
The new interface is a bit different. Cleaner I think.
Microsoft removed the Invite this room button from the main screen and replaced it with a “more” button.
Tap on more and it opens up the menu which includes Invite this room, as well as the volume slider and mute, settings, room control and accessibility, a feedback button and a dedicated device restart button.
The accessibility button opens up a control to enable high contrast.
The give feedback button opens up a feedback form which also seems to double as a support request tool. You can describe an issue and send logs. I haven’t tried it though.
What is a Content Camera?
A Content Camera is a second camera connected to a Microsoft Teams Room PC which is used to bring additional content to a Teams meeting. While the content camera can be considered as a camera 2 for Teams meetings and used to focus on another subject or another view of the presenter. The real party piece of the content camera is to use it with an “analogue” whiteboard or flip chart.
I’ve been to thousands of meetings in meeting rooms in my time and 90% of them have some kind of analogue whiteboard in the room. Many are dry erase boards either mounted on a wall or on an easel. Some are paper flip charts over a whiteboard. I’ve even seen walls with a dry erase coating on them. You can buy it by the roll in fact.
And while many rooms have this facility, they are only really useful for people in the room. They are pointless for people who are joining the meeting remotely. At least they were useless, until now.
Microsoft has released some dedicated content for content camera at aka.ms/contentcameraguide.
There are currently three cameras which are certified as content cameras. Although they also say that more will be added over time.
How do you enable Content Camera?
Tap on More to open the sidebar
Then scroll down and choose your second camera in the content camera field.
Tap preview to see what the contact camera sees.
This is the preview of the content camera view. Great if you need to make adjustments.
You can also rotate the camera 180° if you mounted it upside down. I don’t know what the content camera enhancements are, but I left them enabled as recommended. I would guess that this is the whiteboard AI.
Once you’re happy with the settings, just save and exit, which reboots the PC.
How to use Content Camera in a meeting
Start or join a meeting
Tap on the share tray
And tap Content Camera
Here’s a quick demo of the experience from a participant perspective. My expression says it all. It is that awesome!
As you can see, as soon as you press Content Camera, it starts, finds and frames a whiteboard, zooms in and attempts to get rid of distractions like markers and erasers. If you step in front of the whiteboard, you are translucent. When you start to draw, everything the camera sees, it renders on the screen. As you draw more, if you’re in the way of the content, it renders to as you step out of the way and adds it to what’s already there. You are translucent the whole time.
Anything else to add?
In my testing, I found that while the camera does identify my whiteboard and zoom in, it can take a few seconds to frame it. And when it zooms in, it doesn’t always frame it perfectly. I suspect this is because my whiteboard has a silver frame. This is probably just a touch too similar to the board and the wall it’s on. I’m going to get some dark take to frame the board and see if that helps. That’s what Microsoft recommend here. See below.
Really clever stuff here. A great way to utilize low tech stuff in a new way. As Microsoft say in the post, it makes for an inclusive experience for everyone in every room. You’re now able to draw stuff out on a whiteboard and let remote participants join the fun.
And because it’s built into Teams, if you record the meeting, you’re also recording the whiteboarding for all to see later on.
The buzz I have seen on social media is that this is a cool looking feature, but they really want this to be extended to non-MTR clients. I can’t see it being a priority for Microsoft, but I can’t see it being that much work to do to add it to the Teams desktop client. We shall see what happens in the future. For now, we have Microsoft Whiteboard, which is also awesome by the way. The only real issue there is that you can’t share Microsoft Whiteboard to external anonymous or federated users. I have heard this is coming, but it can’t come soon enough IMO.
That’s all folks!