Advances in technology, including augmented and virtual technologies, are likely to shape the future of hybrid meetings and enable a greater focus on immersion and inclusion.
Seeing people sitting digitally around a table is not far away. In fact, Microsoft recently demonstrated a prototype for its next hybrid meeting software (see images below). You can watch the Microsoft demonstration on the Microsoft website.
Already, technology companies are adapting their products following advances in fields such as natural language processing. For example, Zoom has introduced an automatic captioning feature as part of a suite of features aimed at improving accessibility in virtual meetings.
Future challenges will also emerge that organisations have not even considered yet. For example, in Facebook’s demonstration of its ‘metaverse’ virtual reality (VR) meetings, instead of having video feeds of the participants, virtual avatars are used. How participants choose their avatar may therefore become an important issue. Can they use any avatar they want or should it resemble them to a certain degree? Should there be guidelines to ensure avatars are not offensive to other participants?
The key point here is that the future of hybrid meetings is approaching faster than many organisations have anticipated. Boroughs should stay abreast of these developments and ensure they adapt their technologies, policies and processes accordingly.
LOTI will support its member boroughs by sharing briefings and running pilots of these new technologies and meeting formats as well as forming partnerships with some of the leading technology companies.