Glue update brings expressive avatars and speech-to-text input

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Glue Collaboration is overcoming two key enterprise objections to virtual reality remote collaboration software with a major update

Quick read

➨ The next major release of the Glue platform, accessible via virtual reality headsets, computers and mobile devices, includes expressive avatars and speech-to-text input
➨ Glue will use artificial intelligence and advanced graphics capabilities to more closely mimic users behaviour and features, making communication feel as natural as it does in the real world
➨ The speech-to-text feature lets users say what they want to type

The story

Glue Collaboration is bringing two major updates to its virtual reality platform that will address common issues with virtual meetings.

The next major release of the Glue platform, accessible via virtual reality headsets, computers and mobile devices, includes expressive avatars and speech-to-text input.

These two new features will enhance immersion for virtual reality users and make this modality more compelling.

Enterprises often complain that virtual reality remote collaboration software lacks the realism of in-person meetings, because facial expressions and body language don’t translate in a virtual environment.

Glue will use artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced graphics capabilities to more closely mimic users behaviour and features, making communication feel as natural as it does in the real world.

To develop the new avatars, Glue Collaboration integrated the AI-powered facial animation technology of Scotland-based Rapport, which works with leading animation and gaming studios.

Gregor Hofer, chief executive officer and founder at Rapport, says: “We worked with Glue to enable facial animation that looks as natural as possible and is generated in real-time from audio input alone.”

“We’re especially delighted with the new Glue avatars as they exhibit a level of expressiveness that makes them highly engaging and compelling.”

Glue users can also create their own avatar. They can adjust face shape and features, hair and clothing, and customise colours.

Sami Syrjä, head of design at Glue Collaboration, explains: “We let our users choose their own appearance, as Glue is a place where everyone can be themselves.”

“We have deliberately chosen to use expressive, animated avatars rather than lifelike virtual representations of ourselves. This prevents ‘uncanny valley’, the eerie sensation people experience if a digital representation imperfectly resembles human behaviour.”

Another common issue with virtual reality collaboration software is data input and recording. Without a keyboard and mouse, meeting participants are isolated in a headset, unable to take notes or easily record their thoughts.

The new release of Glue comes with a new speech-to-text feature that lets users say what they want to type. A new whiteboard for ideation is now also accessible to non-virtual reality users, as well as a camera that zooms and shoots in the required resolution.

Glue Collaboration has also improved the way users manage their teams, files and spaces. The platform functions as an end-to-end, system in which users can share, work, collaborate and communicate, across devices.

The set of enterprises using Glue right now is diverse. They include Axel Springer, BCG Platinion, T-Systems Multimedia Solutions, Maillefer, France-KLM, Fazer, Microsoft and Patria.

Rafaela Sieber, team lead for augmented and virtual reality at T-Systems Multimedia Solutions, stresses the importance of more natural and realistic virtual avatars for collaboration and communication. 

Sieber says: “We have been testing the potential of virtual reality for collaboration with avatars for some time now. In scrum or team meetings with up to 20 people, we are now replacing classic telephone conferences. Virtual reality helps to build human closeness and thus communication and trust.”

Finland-based Glue Collaboration landed €3.5 million in funding last year to invest in and expand its platform.

The company started out as an animation, XR and gaming studio, before turning its attention to remote collaboration.

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Image: Glue Collaboration

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