Google has taken a behind-the-scenes look at a holographic video conferencing project it is working on. This system, currently called “Project Starline” works with high-resolution cameras and “ custom depth sensors ”. Thanks to a “ revolutionary light-field display ”, users will be able to “speak naturally, make gestures and make eye contact ”.
Google presented the Starline project at Google I / O 2021 and passed it off as magic. Using 3D sensors, cameras, and an advanced, gigantic screen, they made it seem like two people were sitting on either side of a glass barrier. It was unbelievable. You can see the person from different angles as you move and even make eye contact, Google said.
The platform assembles the look and shape of a person from different angles to create a 3D model that is broadcast in real-time to the person they are chatting with. This system requires “several gigabits per second” to produce images around a 3D model, captured at one end of the system and delivered to the other. It’s as if both sides of the conversation are captured by a 3D scan over and over again, very quickly, and shown to the person on the other end of the conversation almost instantly.
In a demonstration video, people who use the technology describe people as if they are in the same room. It’s ” like she’s right in front of me,” one person said.
For the post-pandemic era
This should make it possible to make much more realistic holographic lectures available to the general public if Google manages to develop a system whose cost will not be prohibitive. It’s the same sort of thing we used to say about VR headsets – and look where we are now!
For now, Google only uses this videoconferencing system in its own offices. It is not yet “licensed under FCC rules” and no sale of this device or system of devices is yet available to the public. At the Google premiere, Starline was used for person-to-person calls (not group chats).
After a year of constant reliance on video chat – and as businesses predict a future where they will depend more on video chat than ever before – the promise of more realistic remote calling is exciting.