Zoom introduces filters and reactions to ‘make meetings more fun’

Video conferencing platform Zoom has introduced a swathe of new features that aim to "liven up your meetings" including filters, reactions, improved lighting capabilities and better background noise suppression.

Users can choose from a variety of virtual backgrounds, as before, as well as a set of fresh video filters and toggles to alter their appearance while in conversation with their friends, family or colleagues.

Filters to change the colour or set it to black and white or sepia have been rolled out to add more of a "casual" tone to virtual meetings, which countless workers have had to engage in due to office closures and lockdowns. Zoom also added filters that add unicorn horns, pirate eye patches, or aerospace goggles to participants. The filters can be configured in the settings.

"We believe that people connect better on video, but feeling connected when working from home is still challenging," Zoom said in a blog post. "The casual and fun elements that bring us together in the office seem to be missing from virtual meeting culture … until now."

"Zoom wants to empower you to feel your best in virtual meetings, express your individuality, and build moments of fun into your day with some new features that uplevel your video game," the company added.

The move appears to address a serious issue with video conferencing fatigue that many remote workers have felt since lockdown began. Research shows that continuous video conferencing leads to weariness due to the way such technology has disrupted the way we naturally communicate with each other.

As part of Zoom’s changes, users can also exert more control over the lighting of their frame, which can make a difference to people who work in rooms that aren’t well-lit.

Another useful new addition is improved noise suppression, which can drown out background noise such as building works or children playing, for example. The low setting will allow for soft background music or audio, while high background noise suppression will apparently provide distraction-free audio for important meetings and presentations.

Users delivering presentations can also adjust their virtual background to overlay their frame over slideshows, allowing them to move the video feed to any part of the screen and even resize the window.

The drive to add more fun is significant given the platform’s origins as a business-to-business video conferencing service and could be a nod to the millions of consumers that have flocked to the system during COVID-19.

Indeed, several other platforms, including Teams and Facebook, have instigated several major platform changes in order to keep up with the Zoom surge, with Zoom’s latest changes perhaps a means of trying to stay on top of the competition.

Image courtesy of Zoom

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.