Google’s Project Starline 3D video call booths will now be tested in the real world – TechCrunch

While Meta is trying to convince consumers To strap on its VR headsets to enter the metaverse, Google continues to experiment with another kind of false reality: its holographic video chat project known as Project Starline. Announced last yearProject Starline is a video call booth who uses 3D images, high-resolution cameras, custom depth sensors, and a revolutionary bright field display to create a realistic experience for callers on both sides of the screen – and all without a headset required. Now Google says it extends its real-world testing with an early access program that will see Starline used in the offices of various enterprise partners, including Salesforce, WeWork, T-Mobile and Hackensack Meridian Health.

Google will begin installing Project Starline prototypes in select partner offices for regular testing from the end of this year, he noted.

Until now, 3D call booths have been in Google offices in the United States, where employees could test them out for events like meetings, employee onboarding sessions, and more. The company had also invited more than 100 corporate partners from fields such as media, healthcare and retail to demo the technology in its offices and offer feedback on the experience.

With the launch of the new early access program, these partners will be able to test call booths in their own offices, providing Google with valuable feedback and insight into how such technology would be used in the real world and on the kind of challenges she can face.

Those who have been able to test Project Starline have described the experience as incredibly realistic and impressive technology, even in its early stages.

But there have been questions about the extent to which Starline would exist beyond being a very cool tech demo, versus tech that would end up being part of everyday life for office workers — let alone consumers. . It’s unclear whether Google has a plan to actually commercialize the technology, what these call booths would cost businesses to purchase and maintain, and whether or not there’s enough demand for the technology in a world. where Zoom and Google Meet are considered “good enough” solutions for virtual meetings. (Plus, they can support more than the individual conversations offered by Starline.)

Additionally, the long-term status of the Starline project at Google was unknown as the project was terminated. in a reorganization a year ago which saw Google move its various AR and VR technologies, as well as its internal R&D group known as Area 120, into a new “Labs” team. This month of September, Google then halved the number of projects in the 120 area — an indication that she may not see these types of experiences as priorities in the current economic environment. Even some Googlers weren’t sure how Project Starline was still around, given the situation.

Still, Starline’s technology is an interesting bet on a different kind of “virtual” reality – one where people aren’t depicted with game-like avatars, but rather as themselves. Instead of developing a technology that uses cameras to track eye and face movements to make avatars more realisticas Meta does now, or figure out how to add legs to your body in VR, Google strives to present a person as they are – and without the added bulk of having to wear something on their head.

Meanwhile, as more companies try to figure out the hybrid future of the work model, technology like Starline could bridge the gap between in-person meetings and the less sensible 2D video chat experience we have today.

Partners like WeWork and Salesforce have expressed interest in trying the technology, which they say could help make connections between people more meaningful.

“In today’s digital world, companies need to provide the technology and tools to help employees be more productive and efficient at work,” Andy White, SVP Business Technology at Salesforce, said in a press release. “At Salesforce, we’re constantly exploring new ways to deliver amazing experiences to our employees and customers around the world. The Starline Project has the potential to create deeper connections between people by linking in-person and virtual experiences.

Google says it will share more about what it learns from its early access program next year.

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