Videoconferencing Platforms Get an AI Boost: The Kiplinger Letter

Emerging AI tools give videoconferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom the ability to add a virtual assistant to every online meeting.

To help you understand how artificial intelligence is changing the technology industry and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

Videoconferencing platforms are rolling out a slew of gee-whiz features. Chalk it up to emerging artificial intelligence tools that give Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and others the ability to add something of a virtual assistant to every online meeting. 

Microsoft Teams is using AI to isolate a speaker’s voice to ensure the person is heard clearly, to automatically take notes and share them at the end, and to digitally unclutter your home office or even add a realistic plant. Zoom, too, is adding auto-notetaking and summaries that are sent to all attendees.

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Google Meet can now detect when you raise your hand, so users don’t have to worry about clicking an icon to grab someone’s attention. Another futuristic Google feature: The ability to touch up your skin, smooth your complexion and whiten your eyes...

Will AI-powered virtual meetings boost productivity? It may take a while. The most useful features could be the least exciting, such as gesture detection to make online meetings more seamless. Others will need buy-in from workers, especially futuristic features, such as Microsoft offering avatars in a virtual world.

Even meeting summaries, a very promising idea, will only work if folks read them. Companies should stay on top of updates to get more bang for their buck, as most of them are being added for no extra cost for firms with subscriptions.

Even if you aren’t interested in emerging AI tools or AI-powered meetings, you will soon be using generative AI, in one form or another. The tech, which uses lots of computing power to generate text, images, computer code, etc. is poised to seep into all sorts of computing tasks. That includes operating systems, search bars, camera editing software, mobile games, email apps, smart speakers and work collaboration tools. 

For example, Adobe Photoshop already uses AI to create images or transform photos, and LinkedIn uses it to help write user posts. Microsoft is racing to pack Windows with generative AI. Ditto, Alphabet and Meta.

So don’t hold your breath for a single breakthrough dominated by one event, app or company, as generative AI spreads. 

One takeaway: Beyond today’s leaders in AI, there’s lots of potential for other companies, including start-ups, to benefit from the increasingly accessible AI tools. Meanwhile, businesses can look for new AI in coming updates of the software they use, which could lead to productivity wins.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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John Miley
Senior Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

John Miley is a Senior Associate Editor at The Kiplinger Letter. He mainly covers technology, telecom and education, but will jump on other important business topics as needed. In his role, he provides timely forecasts about emerging technologies, business trends and government regulations. He also edits stories for the weekly publication and has written and edited e-mail newsletters.

He joined Kiplinger in August 2010 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, where he wrote stories, fact-checked articles and researched investing data. After two years at the magazine, he moved to the Letter, where he has been for the last decade. He holds a BA from Bates College and a master’s degree in magazine journalism from Northwestern University, where he specialized in business reporting. An avid runner and a former decathlete, he has written about fitness and competed in triathlons.