What you need to know
- Google's Project Starline combines hardware and software to create the feeling of talking face to face with a person.
- Project Starline video chat booths are currently limited to a handful of Google offices in the U.S.
- Google is planning trial deployments of the tech with enterprise partners later this year.
Remote work has seen a massive surge in popularity over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While offices are slowly starting to open in some countries, a large number of people continue to work from home.
The shift to work from home has made remote calls an essential part of people's work lives. While existing communication tools are quite effective in helping people collaborate and connect, even the best teleconferencing apps do not offer the experience of "being together." To solve this problem, Google is working on a new system called "Project Starline." In its current form, Project Starline is essentially a video chat booth with specialized hardware that lets two people see each other "life-size and in three dimensions."
Google claims the technology can "create the feeling of being together with someone, just like they're actually there." To do this, Project Starline booths use a combination of multiple depth sensors, a light field display system, spatial audio, and real-time compression. The "breakthrough light field display system" provides a sense of volume and depth without requiring additional glasses or headsets.
Clay Bavor, VP, Google, wrote in a blog post:
We're really excited about the progress we're making with Project Starline, and the technology's potential to solve the important problem of wanting to be together with someone even when you physically can't. We look forward to sharing more later this year.
Project Starline is currently available only at a few Google offices, but the search giant is planning trial deployments with select enterprise partners in healthcare and media industries later this year. Google has promised to make the technology "more affordable and accessible" in the future, although it could take a long time before Project Starline becomes truly accessible. It is also working on adding some of the technical advancements it has made with the project to its suite of communication products.