Skype is a telecommunications application software which provides users with the capabilities of video chat and voice calls between tablets, computers, mobile devices, smart watches, Xbox One’s, and even regular telephones; coupled with its instant messaging services, Skype is truly an all-in-one program that helps connect the people of the world. I began using Skype in the Air Force while I was stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The ability to see my parents from my dorm room over 6,600 miles away helped me keep my sanity in some very difficult times.
In recent news, Microsoft has announced that they are adding an automatic background blur to Skype video calls this week. I still remember that stressful feeling of hearing the Skype ringtone blaring through my laptop’s speakers as I frantically tried to clean my room so my parents wouldn’t see my often-messy environment. Now, thanks to this new Skype feature, the entire background of your video can be blurred out, virtually eliminating the clutter in your office or home. The background blur feature was first announced last year, however, is now being released to the latest desktop versions of Skype.
Currently, there is no indication on if or when mobile versions of Skype will be blessed with this new feature, however, since it is much easier finding a cleaner area of your house to use as a backdrop with a mobile device, I do not think it should be much of an issue if it ever arrives.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, this new feature merely focuses on your face and body and blurs everything else. In early videos of this technology, the blurring effect correctly detected arms, hands, and even hair. I imagine this technology would be useful for other companies/users as well, such as with Twitch streamers. As gamers are not commonly known as the cleanest individuals, I am sure they could greatly benefit from not having to ensure that the backdrop in their videos is not covered with empty energy drinks and frozen pizzas.
Due to the rise of other free calling/messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Skype might not be the reigning champ as it was once for many, although, this new blur feature might be a step in the right direction.
Images and Content: Skype. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.skype.com/.