No doubt many businesses are trying to establish how artificial intelligence (AI) can make a difference to their business. They’re not alone. A recent Gartner Group study found that while there’s a lot of interest in AI, it is hard for many users to understand the technology’s true value to their business. Hype aside, it is possible to drill down into how augmented reality and AI can be used in video conferencing and collaboration. A recent Zoom survey found that nearly 60 percent of respondents thought augmented reality would be somewhat or extremely useful in their video meetings, and 73 percent said they expect AI to have a positive impact on meetings. On the point of how will AI and AR change meetings, here are just a few of the benefits users can expect cutting edge technologies to deliver to video meetings today and in the coming years.

The New Meeting Scribe: Artificial Intelligence

Today, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. It is no longer necessary to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Using voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join, or end a meeting by simply speaking a command, much in the same way you interact with Alexa (you can even doing this using Alexa). Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature, now offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes and other vendors including Zoom, can take meeting notes during video meetings, leaving individuals and their teams free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown, which boost efficiency and collaboration. This machine-learning-based technology gets smarter and more accurate as more people use it. AI-based voice-to-text transcription is advanced enough to identify each speaker in the meeting, which saves users time by letting them skim the transcript, search and analyse it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Video transcripts not only deliver easy-to-digest, comprehensive records of meetings, they can also be used to provide feedback for training.

It is interesting to note that over 65 percent of respondents from the same survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many thinking it will save them one to five hours a week; for industries that charge by the hour, that could make a real contribution to the bottom line. One respondent noted, “For me, the AI advantage would be a ‘virtual assistant’ tool for notes, to-do and follow up items. The advantage would occur post meeting as a reminder or follow up guide to get things done. Currently, the maelstrom known as the ‘day’ swamps my ability to focus on deliverables from key meetings.”

AR Promises to Redefine Video Conferencing

It is important to make the distinction between augmented reality and virtual reality as the two are often confused, but the two are quite different. Virtual reality is a completely computer-generated re-creation of a real-life environment or situation (riding a roller coaster for example). Augmented reality meanwhile projects images and information onto your actual view of the real world. Though its current use in video meetings is more limited than that of artificial intelligence, augmented reality has the promise to truly redefine and enhance communications in many industries – and it’s getting off to a great start. For instance, companies like Meta are partnering with video conferencing providers to deliver solutions that enable the use of augmented reality in video conferencing to share and manipulate 3D virtual holograms in real-time, and allow others to interact with them. Imagine medical students watching a demonstration of a procedure on realistic anatomical models, thus aiding first-hand experiences beyond anything they can learn from a textbook. It creates a whole new experience to see and interact with virtual replicas of products, and service technicians, for example, can view systems and diagnose problems in real-time. Among those surveyed, 30 percent were excited about the potential AR has to create an environment without limits on how you can collaborate or what you can build together.

Right now the future for VR in video communications isn’t quite as strong. The point of video communications is to engage with someone face-to-face over long distances. If you’re engaging with their virtual avatar instead of their face, you lose this important benefit. With AR, you can share, which is the real point of collaboration.

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, we’ll see AI used in video communication for a wider range of more sophisticated tasks, including language translation, meeting follow-up (creating to-do lists and scheduling subsequent meetings), and maybe even leading meetings. An AI-based assistant may create a top-line meeting summary from the notes it’s taken, and then deliver those summaries to meeting participants. Using natural language processing, the assistant could also contribute to the meeting, perhaps by creating charts to illustrate data being discussed, or proactively accessing and sharing historical data relevant to the discussion.

AI-based facial recognition will also be used in video conference rooms for a variety of purposes. It will recognize who is in the room and be paired with technologies that provide other information, such as a meeting participant’s title and company affiliation. Insights into who has used the conference room, when, and for what purpose will also be available to help IT and facilities staff better plan space allocation and usage.

There’s no doubt that some AI applications don’t seem to have real-world benefits and exist simply for the sake of saying it could be done or to showcase the potential – like Sophia, the first-ever AI robot citizen. However, the use of AI and AR in video conferencing-based collaboration is truly accomplishing things – and those accomplishments are making video meetings even better than meeting face-to-face.