Google: Project Starline 3D meeting platform arrives next year


Two years ago, Google previewed Project Starline, a 3D video conferencing system that gives users the feeling that they’re in the same room. On Monday, the company  announced plans to make the technology commercially available next year, promising a more immersive meeting experience than is possible with the current crop of videoconferencing applications.

“You can talk, gesture and make eye contact with another person, just like you would if you were in the same room,” Andrew Nartker, general manager for Project Starline at Google, said in a blog post

Project Starline is the product of several years of research and “thousands of hours” of internal testing, Google said. It relies on a combination of technologies such as 3D imaging, computer vision, and spatial audio to replicate the feeling of being in the same physical space. At first, Project Starline required a large video booth; it has since been condensed to a smaller form factor that resembles a more traditional videoconferencing system.

Google is now working with HP to make the technology commercially available in 2025, the company said. Pricing has not been announced. 

“Google’s Project Starline is a transformational technology where those using the device actually feel like they are meeting in real life with someone else,” said Wayne Kurtzman, IDC’s research vice president for collaboration and communities. “I’ve heard enterprise partners who have used the device for the first time call it a ‘magic box.’”

Project Starline has several advantages over existing video software, according to Google. Greater levels of immersion help meeting participants be more attentive, Google said, referencing internal user research. The company also claimed meeting participants have better memory recall, are more likely to remember details of a “face-to-face” conversation, and experienced less  video call fatigue. 

“With more than half of meaning and intent communicated through body language versus words alone, an immersive collaboration experience plays an important role in creating authentic human connections in hybrid environments,” Alex Cho, president of personal systems at HP, said in a statement.

On first impression, the technology appears to have value for one-to-one virtual experiences, said Irwin Lazar, president and principal analyst at Metrigy, though adoption will likely hinge on cost.

Google isn’t the first to attempt realistic videoconferencing, said Lazar, who pointed to systems developed by vendors such as Cisco, Tandberg, Polycom, and HP. However, these telepresence devices failed to gain widespread adoption due to the high cost of deployment, he said. 

“So, I’ll reserve some judgement [on Project Starline] until we see the cost,” said Lazar. 

Even so, he pointed to continued business investment in innovative video meeting technologies, such as multi-camera systems and center room cameras that aim to help remote participants engage with one another more effectively. “ I do expect that there will be interest in piloting this technology — especially if it’s available within existing meeting apps like Google Meet and Zoom Meetings,” he said.

Collaboration Software, Google, HP, Videoconferencing

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