Background blur arrives in Skype thanks to AI

Microsoft has a fancy new feature in Skype, where it’ll use AI to determine edges of people live, in real time and apply a depth of field effect to the background.

This kind of effect looks professional and is something many have spent hundreds creating, using prosumer or professional DSLR cameras, with HDMI output, fed into a capture card.

Now in 2019, all that’s changed. Thanks to AI, Microsoft are enabling Skype users to achieve this with affordable webcams and little more than a checkbox in software.

Arriving to your desktop now, Skype joins Microsoft Teams which enabled the feature last year.

It really is a neat technology application, however it does assume you still use Skype in 2019 and that’s probably a stretch for most users.

Where this will come in handy is when you’re in an environment that you’re not particularly ready to share with the world, but need to make a video call. Having the background blurred will help you hide that background, while still being able to show your face.

To enable this, just right-click, or even through your Skype settings, your background will be instantly and subtly blurred, leaving just you as the only focal point.

Microsoft uses artificial intelligence (AI) trained in human form detection. That means Skype now knows what humans look like, so with the feature enabled, the blur filter can be applied to the area outside the human body. The impressive part is that it does this on a live camera feed.

While the technology is great, Microsoft aren’t quite ready to believe in their AI to be perfect and have provided this statement.

*We do our best to make sure that your background is always blurred, but we cannot guarantee that your background will always be blurred.

Given that, it’d be smart to avoid having anything offensive in the background during a Skype job interview, just in case.

Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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