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

Wired: “Our reporter tests out a “video booth” to glimpse the future of telepresence. Over the past several years, Google has been working hard to craft software experiences that make you feel like you’re present with another human being, even if they’re several time zones away. On one end of the spectrum is boring Google Meet, the company’s Zoom competitor. On the other, more daring end is the now discontinued virtual-reality platform Daydream, complete with goggles and hand controllers.But nothing within that gamut was cutting it for Clay Bavor, the high-energy Googler who heads up the company’s augmented- and virtual-reality efforts. He wanted full-on photo-realistic, volumetric video meetings that make it look, sound, and feel like the other person is sitting across the table from you—no headset required. So his team built a video booth. The new prototype machine for face-to-face meetings is named Project Starline. Call it hyper-telepresence. Call it whatever you want. Either way, it’s pretty wild. 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…”

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