How Video and AI are changing the future tech of communications

Posted by Andrew Fouche on 30 Apr 2020 2:00:00 PM

AI has brought new capabilities to video, and this could change how organisations communicate.

Today, video communication goes beyond providing just visuals, it can now provide a host of added benefits from file sharing, digital whiteboards, broadcasting, conferencing, and much more. As video communication is fused with AI it will bring even more functions, benefits, as well as potential challenges.

Microsoft has invested heavily in putting AI into all of its software and services. It has also opened its resources to clients to create their own AI solutions, and users do not have to possess coding skills. Likewise, Unify has partnered with Google's Artificial Intelligence services to provide chat and AI solutions. Both Microsoft and Unify have cloud services, so access and use of this technology is immediately available to users.

Video conferencing systems will become more accessible

Video conferencing or boardroom setups used to be expensive, so they were the preserve of large companies. This technology has become more affordable and price points continue to drop, making the technology more accessible to small and medium-sized organisations.

Not only have prices decreased, but so has the complexity of setting up, using, and maintaining the technology. This means there is no longer a need for AV/IT experts to deploy the tech in the organisation.

Organisations will become innovative in creating virtual boardroom space

Video conferencing used to be limited to single-use rooms. This was  particularly problematic for offices with open plans or hot desking as it led to private space for video calls becoming a rare commodity and basic conference room booking systems inevitably became inefficient. AI will make the management of these spaces much smarter.

AI can use video conferencing data to analyse frequency of their use, how they are used, number of participants, times of use, and so on to provide better management of video conference rooms.

AI can automatically reschedule meeting calls or rebook meeting rooms according to email conversations. AI will also be present in conference rooms to alert users as to which rooms are free or in use. It will also recommend which documents and resources should be brought to a meeting.


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Less distractions on video calls

AI can help by suppressing echoes, background noise, or even blurring backgrounds so that both video and audio output is constantly of a high quality. AI also has the ability to correct colour and light in video to emphasise faces in dim or back-lit rooms.

Automatic video framing is a feature that ensures that all participants in a room are in the frame. Should a participant leave, join the group, or stand up to write something on a whiteboard the video will zoom, tilt, or pan to centre to accommodate everyone into the video. This feature is useful for interactive meetings.

An example of this is the new Nashua Communication’s speaker system which automatically tracks the users as they move through auditoriums and maintains a high level of sound quality without the need for a mic.

Video will begin to understand what it sees and even react

Video, when partnered with AI, becomes more intelligent and increases its capabilities. AI, can make videos ‘see’ better and provide intelligent analysis on what it has observed. For example, a mining company in Shangdong, China, uses AI-  enabled video cameras to improve what they ‘see’ in underground mines. It is also able to identify, as well as respond to, health and safety risks in the mine automatically, in real time.

Another example is Microsoft Teams which can use AI to collect data from an image. So handwritten notes and printed documents can be reproduced or tabulated on Excel without having to enter the data line by line.

Smart video services

AI and cloud services have brought new data capture, processing, and analysis capabilities to video. During a meeting it is now possible to have automatic scheduling, automatic task assignment, meeting transcription, translation, and other services without user interaction but simply through machine learning.

Speech recognition can also be used to look up and display data during the meeting. For example, natural language processing can be used to create charts or display data that is being discussed. AI canalso proactively find and share data that is relevant to the discussion.

Interoperability and integrations 

Most video services were built as silos and operated in isolation. As the market matures, both software and hardware suppliers are building the tech to make video services applicable on any software and hardware IT infrastructure. An example of this is when, during the Microsoft Inspire 2019, Microsoft announced that Teams will be able to work with Cisco's Webex. 

Video conferencing platforms have been laggards at providing integrations. Video Conferencing as a Service (VCaaS) provider will change that by opening up their APIs to developers and customers. This will bring new capabilities to video calls and customisation features for customers.

AI-powered chatbots have been essential in providing customer support services. The same technology can be used in video conferencing to provide information, resources, and assistance to participants before, during, or after meetings. Take the University of New South Wales in Sydney, which used Microsoft's AI platform and Teams to build an assistant to enrich the learning experience of a single class with 500 students:

 

 

Unify's OpenScape Contact Centre V10 has chatbot configurations and an open media framework which enables the connection of social media networks to the system. With that in place, customers can be drawn from multiple channels into a single platform (omnichanne ) managed by an AI chatbot.

Solution

Voice-activated and scribed video meetings

Instead of entering codes and passwords, users will start, join, or end a meeting with simple voice commands. Meetings can also be transcribed automatically. 

Microsoft Teams has a transcribing feature, and the transcript can be searched using keywords or phrases. Teams also has a translation feature, where a user can type a message in their own language, and it will be translated to English for the other users.

Augmented reality (AR)

AR will be able to bring 3D holograms, images, and information right into the meeting. AR can provide richer and completely new ways of communication. AR can not only view but manipulate holograms. AR can be useful for education and training like in medical classes, or to provide real-time information for remote service technicians.

The rise of deep fakes

There is a dark side to AI assisted videos, and that is deep fakes. Videos have been the most trusted form of media since inception: people generally believed what they saw. Deep fakes make creating completely false images, audio, and narratives easy.

Deep fake videos use AI to look authentic. To demonstrate its pitfalls, fake videos have been made of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and former President Barack Obama. The videos were intentionally created and marked as fakes, but in the future malicious people could use them for their own ends. Think of the number of unrests that have been caused by social media videos. For organisations it could easily lead to advanced forms of phishing scams, where a fake supervisor gleans information or resources from an unsuspecting employee.

AI-enabled video is here to stay

Video has become a more prominent medium of electronic communication as it is more dynamic than voice and text. It is the best form of communication as most physical cues can be experienced so it is better at building relationships, improves the quality of communication, and makes teams more effective.

AI in video communication builds on this by letting the user focus on the meeting and not get distracted by tasks. AI has made communication technology much easier: using machine learning, the intelligence behind the technology gets smarter with each subsequent use. The applications of video can only get better, smarter, and broader.

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