Live-generated signatures now available at Teams meetings

Microsoft Teams has received support for live signatures. It is a function that allows meeting participants to read transcripts of others' statements, showing themselves in real time. The Microsoft 365 schedule of changes foresees this feature for November 2019, but Microsoft MVP, Tony Redmond, today informed the world about its availability in its development version.

Live signatures have been added to make Teams meetings more accessible to people with hearing disabilities or in situations where we can't use speakers or headphones. So instead of listening to the participants' statements, we can also read them. This function works by processing sound by speech recognition algorithms and displaying text at the bottom of the screen. According to Tony Redmond's report, participants must speak clearly and subtitles appear on the screen with a slight but noticeable delay. The algorithm is not very good at translating or regionalisms and in such cases it can generate interesting but inadequate signatures.

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Microsoft Teams - live subtitles

Good quality microphones are definitely used to recognize speech. To make signatures as accurate as possible, Microsoft at documentation advises you to follow some tips:

  • Speak clearly, slowly and directly into the microphone. After increasing the distance from the microphone, the captions may be less accurate.
  • Avoid locations with background noise.
  • Avoid speaking many people at the same time.
  • Use the highest quality certified devices available to you.

An interesting feature encountered by Redmond is profanity filtering. At the moment, it works only for words in English that star. You can still swear at will in other languages, though of course this may not be good if we have a formal meeting.

Microsoft Teams - live subtitles

At this time, signatures are not enabled automatically and interested users must enable them themselves from the "…" menu during the meeting. Office 365 administrators can enable them at the policy level. Microsoft adds that Live signatures are a preview feature in the Microsoft Teams application, available to a small group of customers. They are currently only available in English and in the Team Desktop application. General availability is scheduled for November.

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