Zoom's got some competition! Google Meet introduces noise cancelling

Google Meet
(Image credit: Google)

Google Meet will now feature AI-powered noise cancelling -- the perfect video-conferencing solution for teams for loud snackers -- that will help the tech giant compete with major players like Zoom, VentureBeat reported.

Google first announced its noise-cancellation vision for G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education in April. "To help limit interruptions to your meeting, Meet can now intelligently filter out background distractions—like your dog barking or keystrokes as you take meeting notes," the Google Cloud blog stated.

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Does Google Meet noise cancellation actually work?

Stockholm-based Serge Lachapelle, G Suite director of product management, demonstrated Google Meet's impressive capabilities in a video. 

"Just to show everyone that I'm not cheating, here's the microphone that I use," Lachapelle said during the demonstration. Lachapelle switched off Meet's noise-cancellation feature and the G Suite director crumpled a snack bag, clicked his pen and clinked a metal object against a glass cup -- all of these noises could be heard on the video.

Then, Lachapelle turned on Meet's new noise-cancellation feature. He crumpled the snack bag on camera, but there was complete silence. Next, Lachapelle started speaking while crumpling the snack bag, but again, the crumpling noise was miraculously absent as Lachapelle prattled on.

"I can talk at the same time, and [the Google Meet noise-cancelling feature] would be removing the crumpling from my voice," Lachapelle said. "It'll remove dogs barking, kids crying and applause," he added. Phone chirps and dings can also be suppressed on Meet's noise-cancelling feature.

On some sounds, such as the snack crumpling, Lachapelle's voice sounded slightly distorted. 

But this is Google's first foray into noise cancellation; Lachapelle assured G suite users that the feature will be upgraded in the future. "It's going to get better and better now that we've launched it," he promised.

How does the Google Meet noise cancellation feature work?

The "de-noiser," as Lachapelle calls it, securely filters out the user's voice by using a machine-learning process in Google Cloud.

However, the AI behind Meet's de-noiser suppresses some sounds better than others. In an interview with VentureBeat, Lachapelle said, "Screaming is a tough one. This is a human voice, but it’s noise. Dogs at certain pitches -- that’s also very hard. So some of it sometimes will slip through."

Noises such the hum of a vacuum cleaner, on the other hand, is an easy one for the AI. "We were talking with this customer, and all of a sudden I see in the back, her Roomba starts rolling into the room and gets stuck under her desk," Lachapelle told VentureBeat. "We never heard the Roomba go. It was completely silent."

How can I use the Google Meet noise cancellation feature?

The Google Meet "de-noiser" will be on by default, but users can turn it off in the settings window. 

Meet's noise cancellation will roll out to users gradually. If you're a G Suite user, you may not see the noise cancellation feature until the end of this month. The de-noiser will only be featured on Meet's web platform for now; it can be accessed on Android and iOS at a later date.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!