Meeting Owl uses AI to improve video meetings

Andy Rubin, the co-creator of the Android operating system, is one of the backers behind the Meeting Owl, a 360-degree desktop camera, with built-in audio, which uses AI to improve the experience of video meetings.

Mark Schnittman, the Owl Labs cofounder and CTO (who also created the Meeting Owl) explained to VentureBeat website what the product is about; "The Meeting Owl’s artificial intelligence allows it to act as a real-time director and editor. When it’s placed in an arbitrary room in an arbitrary location, it can figure out where people are, which people are most relevant to the conversation at any given moment, and how best to display those people to the viewer."

It is designed to sit in the middle of a conference table and zoom in on participants on the fly. The 11-in tall, domed speaker uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 processor, a 720p HD camera with a fisheye lens, an eight-microphone array, and built-in speakers to shift focus between speakers’ faces.

In a demo video, the Meeting Owl shows a zoomed-out, panoramic view four people in a conference room. When someone begins speaking, it zooms in, then automatically creates a split view when a second person chimes in.

It’s compatible with teleconferencing apps like Skype, Hangouts, and Zoom, and plugs into a computer or monitor via USB.

The idea is to make remote meetings feel more natural, and unlike most teleconferencing products, which require an operator to manually turn cameras during meetings, the Meeting Owl is completely hands-free.

Owl Labs say its target market is businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.