Google’s Project Starline Starts Real-world Testing, Bringing Light-field Video Calls to Enterprise Partners – Road to VR

Google’s Project Starline is an experimental system for immersive video chatting that aims to close the distance between people without needing an AR or VR headset. At Google’s annual Cloud Next conference, the company announced it’s rolling out the booth-sized device in early access to select enterprise partners, officially taking it beyond the walls of Google’s offices for the first time.

The company says in a blogpost that early access to Project Starline is starting this year, with the installation of prototypes at the offices of Salesforce, WeWork, T-Mobile, and Hackensack Meridian Health.

Project Starline provides a glasses-free 3D chatting experience thanks to its host of sensors, light-field display, spatial audio, computer vision, and novel compression to make the whole experience possible over the web. The end effect is you get to have a natural face-to-face conversation with another person, including eye contact.

Starline prototypes have already been in use in Google offices across the US since late 2021, something the company says aims to increase employee presence, attentiveness, and productivity compared to traditional video calling solutions. Since then, Google says it’s showed off the tech to 100 enterprise partners in areas such as media, healthcare, and retail to see where it needs to improve.

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“As we build the future of hybrid work together with our enterprise partners, we look forward to seeing how Project Starline can help employees form strong ties with one another, doctors form meaningful bonds with their patients, and salespeople make deeper connections with their clients and customers,” says Andrew Nartker, Starline’s Director of Product Management. “Whether you’re presenting to a colleague or just sitting down for a coffee chat, we want the Project Starline experience to feel natural, as if the person is sitting in the same room as you. More broadly, we are eager to enable workforces to feel energized and productive when collaborating from afar.”

The company says it will share more about its early access program at some point next year, as it no doubt aims to further tailor Starline into a shippable product.

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