Google’s Project Starline Videoconference Tech Wants To Turn You Into a Hologram


    Google on Tuesday unveiled a prototype machine for face-to-face meetings named Project Starline. From a report: The phrase “video booth” really is the simplest way to describe Starline in its current form: It’s a large booth, like the kind you’d find in a diner, just way more technologically complex. I had the chance to test-drive it in early May. After an initial conversation with Bavor outside of Google’s campus in Mountain View, California, I was led inside the almost empty building and escorted to a private office. There was the Starline booth, part wood-paneled and partly encased in gray fabric, with a built-in bench on one side and a 65-inch display on the other. I was instructed to sit opposite the display. There were lights, cameras, and not a whole lot of action until a product manager sat down across from me. From a very specific angle, he looked as though he was sitting across from me. But he was on a different floor of the building, piping into our meeting through Starline. This is Google’s idea for the future of videoconferencing, a giddy vision that only a small group of Googlers have had access to, and one that has apparently gotten a thumbs-up from chief executive Sundar Pichai. You couldn’t be blamed for thinking that Starline must have been developed during the pandemic, while desk workers were umm-ing and muting and unmuting their way through an endless stream of Meets and Zooms. But Clay Bavor, Googler who heads up the company’s augmented- and virtual-reality efforts, says there wasn’t really any aha moment that led to Project Starline. In fact, it’s been in the works for over five years. […] The imagery is remarkable, and the visuals are complemented by spatial audio. What I’m actually looking at is a 65-inch light field display. The Project Starline booths are equipped with more than a dozen different depth sensors and cameras. (Google is cagey when I ask for specifics on the equipment.) These sensors capture photorealistic, three-dimensional imagery; the system then compresses and transmits the data to each light field display, on both ends of the video conversation, with seemingly little latency. Google applies some of its own special effects, adjusting lighting and shadows. The result is hyper-real representations of your colleagues on video calls. Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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