Google unveils a new prototype of its Starline holographic video booth in Smart TV format and rolls out first units to businesses.
Google has unveiled a new, smaller prototype of its Project Starline 3D holographic telepresence technology. Instead of the previous large booth, which looked more like a futuristic phone booth, the new version resembles a large TV. In this format, Starline would easily fit into offices or conference rooms.
New AI techniques instead of infrared light arrays
In addition to its more compact size, the Starline update relies on improved technology. Instead of the original version’s array of infrared light emitters and cameras, the new prototype uses improved AI techniques.
According to Starline CEO Andrew Nartker, this should minimize Starline’s need for standard cameras. Previous versions of Project Starline filled entire rooms and used complex hardware to create a live 3D model of people you were talking to.
As part of an early access program, Google has already shipped some of the new prototypes to partners including Salesforce, T-Mobile, and WeWork. As Google tests the technology in real-world environments, it plans to gather new data to further improve the technology.
The future of videoconferencing?
Project Starline promises more natural virtual conversations and could change the way we videoconference. Hands-on reports started appearing last year. Those who tested it were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, describing Starline as science fiction made real.
However, when and if Starline will be widely available remains uncertain. Late last year, Google rolled out Starline to businesses for the first time. It was rumored to be available as early as 2024. The earlier, larger prototype was estimated to cost several $10,000. It remains to be seen if the slimmer version will be cheaper.