While there’s no substitute for genuine human contact, multiple tech companies are trying to make digital interactions as realistic as possible. Even if that means, paradoxically, replacing people with their own virtual avatars. Now, Google is upping the ante on virtual connection with its new gadget, Project Starline: a hyperrealistic videoconferencing portal that helps people feel like they’re in the same room.
Google recently announced Project Starline at its 2021 “I/O” developer conference in Mountain View, California. The company says in a press release that Starline is an attempt to allow distant people to sit down and talk face to face; even if they’re on opposite sides of the country.
Starline, which is not yet on the market, works using a combination of computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and real-time compression to achieve its face-to-face feel. The tech giant also says it’s developed a “breakthrough light field display system” for Starline; one that creates a sense of depth and volume that would usually only come from a mixed-reality headset.
What is Project Starline? It combines research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio and real-time compression with a breakthrough 3D display.— Google (@Google) May 19, 2021
The effect is the feeling of a person sitting just across from you, like they are right there. https://t.co/yLN7CCwFLr pic.twitter.com/dLhhKx7vEH
The result of the confluence of state-of-the-art technology is what amounts to a visual portal between people; based on the video above, it almost seems as if using Starline is similar to using a mirror. Only instead of seeing yourself, you’re seeing whomever is on the other end of your virtual call. (It’s sort of like the episode “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” from The Twilight Zone. Only more sci-fi because Google’s involved.)
Unfortunately, Google hasn’t provided any price specs for Starline. But we’re guessing they’re astronomical. It’s also unclear how much it’d cost to stream this kind of video between users, but, again, we’re probably talking big numbers. Google has, however, demonstrated that the system works between the Bay Area and New York. A feat that can only be topped by the magic of two people actually sitting in the same room together.
Featured Image: Google