In the inevitably digitized world, where telecommuting seems to be the new norm, companies are navigating through unforeseen hurdles to mimic the way we interact in actual conferences. Lenovo's recently patented technology, US20230300250A1, titled "SELECTIVELY PROVIDING AUDIO TO SOME BUT NOT ALL VIRTUAL CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS REPRESENTED IN A SAME VIRTUAL SPACE," might just have found a pathway to solve it.
The problem is simple yet complex to solve: In an actual conference, we can lean in and whisper or engage in a side conversation with fellow participants while being discreet, without disturbing or involving everyone in the room. The challenge lies in bringing this real-world, human-like interaction to the virtual conference space.
The currently available online meeting technologies don't satisfactorily allow this opportunity for nuanced communication. Participants are awfully aware that they're either on mute or not, with no option to interact selectively without exiting the main meeting. This limitation noticeably restrains the organic flow of communication, making digital conferring a less enriching experience.
The solution, however, lies in Lenovo's inventive patent that might make 'virtual whispers' possible. By integrating advanced artificial intelligence mechanics in their ThinkSmart Hub systems, they lip-sync the digital world with the real human conventions of communication. The software can recognise certain gestures, like leaning in closer to the screen, as a desire to 'whisper' and can, consequently, isolate the audio so that only the intended person can hear it.
Imagine being in a global meeting with your team across continents, interacting as if you are in the same room! A thumbs-up subtly indicating an agreement, a hand gesture initiating a side discussion, or leaning in close for a whisper, all in a virtual space but with realistic implications.
The patent drawings vividly illustrate the virtual conference scenario where the participant gestures entering an isolated audio mode. Though it is painted in a corporate setting, the possible applications extend much beyond. Academia can greatly benefit from this, where a teacher can 'whisper' individual feedback to students in an online class. Even family gatherings can express a whole new level of bonding over a virtual medium where grandparents in one part of the world can whisper sweet nothings into their grandchild's ears, seated oceans apart.
However, it is important to note that this patent represents a blueprint of an invention that Lenovo intends to bring to life. While very exciting, we have to wait until it hits the market shelves to see if the technology lives up to its promise. After all, a patent is a technological intention, not necessarily an assurance of an actual product in the market. It will be fascinating to watch how the future of virtual interaction unfolds, whisper by whisper.
P.S: The depictions in this write-up are based on the patent filed by Lenovo, patent number US20230300250A1. We have no information about when, or indeed if, the product will hit the consumer market.