Google’s Project Starline could transform the future of videoconferencing
Google’s redesign of Android 12 and partnership with Samsung on Wear OS grabbed all the headlines yesterday, but there was one announcement that shouldn’t go unnoticed. The search giant also shared details about Project Starline, an ambitious initiative that could transform how we communicate virtually.
Google said Project Starline has been a few years in the making, and combines advances in hardware and software to enable a videoconferencing experience that’s designed to make you feel like you’re with the person you’re talking to. In reality, you’re talking to them over video like you would via Zoom or Google Meet.
“Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-sized and in three dimensions,” said Clay Bavor, VP at Google.
Google said to make Project Starline a reality, Google is applying research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and real-time compressions. The search giant said it also developed a light field system that can be experienced without the need of glasses or headsets. The result, as the video above shows, will make it feel like you’re in the same room with someone who is actually across the world.
Of course, all of this requires very specialized equipment; Project Starline is only available in a few of Google’s offices. But it’s an exciting step toward making videoconferencing feel less distant and more immediate. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people around the world couldn’t travel to see their friends and family, with many relying on video chat services. Project Starline still doesn’t beat the feeling of talking to someone face-to-face, but it’s allegedly the closest thing.
“We believe this is where person-to-person communication technology can and should go, and in time, our goal is to make this technology more affordable and accessible, including bringing some of these technical advancements into our suite of communication products,” Bavor said.
Google is planning to trial deployments of Project Starline with select enterprise partners later this year, and will continue to get feedback as the technology evolves. The search giant said it will share more information about the initiative later this year.