Microsoft brings immersive mixed reality and AI experiences to SharePoint

Microsoft isn't showing any signs of slowing down with its efforts to bring mixed reality and AI to the masses. Following up on its reveal of two new mixed reality apps for the workplace at Build 2018, the company has announced mixed reality is headed to SharePoint as well. And that's not all: new AI content collaboration features are also coming to the service.

Speaking at its annual SharePoint Conference today, Microsoft showed off SharePoint spaces, a new way to bring mixed reality to the office. Spaces, Microsoft says, can be used to create new ways to collaborate on projects and create engaging ways to interact with data. From Microsoft:

  • Recruiting and onboarding—Recruits or new employees can learn about a company in a compelling, 360-degree virtual welcome and orientation, including a 360-degree video message from leadership. They can navigate the campus or building with 3D maps, learn the organizational structure with an interactive organization chart, or explore rich information about coworkers and the organization's products.
  • Learning—With mixed reality, learning comes to life by captivating your focus and attention. Gain broad perspective with a panoramic view of a topic and learning objectives. Then explore personalized, relevant, and dynamic content. Ignite your curiosity by discovering new insights, and dive deep into topics that matter to you. Learn not just by reading or watching, but by experiencing, with your senses engaged.
  • Product development—Create an inspiring space for your team to spark innovation. Surround yourself with experts to look at data, content, and processes from every angle. Explore a prototype in 3D to identify new opportunities, attach annotations, and visualize improvements.

SharePoint spaces will allow anyone to build mixed reality experiences in minutes using templates with customizable surroundings, sounds, lighting, and more. The experiences will also work with any browser, mobile browser, or headset, and they'll be available for all Office 365 commercial plans. Customers and partners will soon be able to apply to take part in a limited SharePoint spaces preview.

Microsoft also peppered in some new AI experiences set to roll out across SharePoint. A new "Find" tab in the SharePoint mobile app will use AI to recommend sites, files, news, and people that are relevant to you. "You might find what you need without having to search at all. And when you perform a search, the results are refined as you type, returning personalized results based on your role, your work, and the people you work with," Microsoft says.

A similar recommendation section is also coming to The section will show you files that Microsoft has identified "most likely to need your attention." A "Discover" section will clue you in to files that your colleagues are working on and files available to you. AI is also being used to recognize objects in photos, determine where they were taken, and pull text from them. You'll be able to use this feature to easily search photos like you can documents.

Lastly, Microsoft Flow has been enhanced to "streamline processes that integrate cognitive services." Those include geolocation, image recognition, tect extraction, and machine translation.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl