If you’ve ever used Skype while working from home, chances are you’ve been wearing pyjama bottoms (or even less) on your lower half, while the clean shirt on your top half has done a passable job of indicating professionalism. No shame there, we’ve all done it. But no matter how put together you appear, video calling will still rat you out when it comes to your background environment. Laundry left hanging around, questionable wall art, the words ‘I hate this project’ scrawled on the whiteboard behind you — all in plain, damning sight of your Skype partner. Until now, that is, as Skype has developed the feature none of us ever knew we needed until it was too late: background blurring.
Just like the background blur feature introduced to Microsoft Teams last year, Skype’s new function uses AI to pick out faces, arms and hair, and blurs everything else. It’s available on desktops and laptops running the latest version of Skype, and can be activated by hovering over the Skype video button and selecting “blur my background.” Don’t push your luck, though — the feature is still experimental. Tucked away at the end of Skype’s announcement, the company says “We do our best to make sure that your background is always blurred, but we cannot guarantee that your background will always be blurred.” So you should still give that whiteboard a cursory glance before you log on, just in case.