Patent published on August 29, 2023

Katmai's New Patent Could Make Virtual Meetings Feel More Real

The world of virtual meetings and conferences was often portrayed as efficient and easy. However, a new patent by Katmai Tech, numbered US11741652B1, highlights the issues with existing virtual conference technology that isn't as seamless or as social as we'd like. The patent throws light on the lack of a sense of place that haunts regular users of virtual conferencing technology. Despite being virtually connected, we miss the experiential aspect of in-person meetings and the feeling of being in the same place, which is critical for building relationships and social connections. Adding to this is the inability to have side interactions or private conversations in the larger context of a meeting, a feature that physical meetings provide.

In this virtual setting, even when we can see and hear all participants, finding natural spacing or order among the participants is challenging, especially as the number of participants increases. There is also a lingering issue surrounding the privacy of users regarding the inability to control what others see in your background.

Katmai Tech's patent aims to address these issues by enabling users to alter their avatar's backgrounds in a 3D virtual world and change parts of a video session of themselves to maintain a semblance of privacy. This technology allows users to decide how they want others to perceive them and their surroundings, adding a layer of depth to the virtual image. Essentially, it puts you in control of how you're viewed.

Imagine a world where your virtual meetings felt more like real-life meetings. You decide what's visible in your background, have crucial side conversations with team members, and give presentations that feel like you're all in the same room. The sense of place reestablishes itself, giving you the ability to create and maintain social connections even in these virtual settings.

This technology could change the face of remote work. Work-from-home employees could further customize their virtual workspace to their liking, imparting a personal touch that's often missed in a digital setting. Companies could even use this patent to create virtual office spaces that differ with each department, making the employees feel more connected to the workplace, despite working from anywhere.

However, as exciting as it sounds, it's important to remember this is still a patent. There is no assurance that this technology will hit the markets anytime soon. It stands as a testament to the lengths companies will go to improve the virtual working environment and the significant strides technology has made over the years. Let's hope this invention sees the light of day, making our virtual conferences more efficient and socially gratifying.

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