Google continues to develop the idea of the Project Starline video conferencing booth, which was first presented at Google I / O 2021. It is not surprising if you have not heard about it: then the announcement was overshadowed by the presentation of new versions of Android and Wear OS. But Google is not giving up and has already begun testing, while working to make such equipment more accessible.
Essentially, Project Starline is a gigantic arcade call machine. The 213 cm x 213 cm cabin is equipped with 14 cameras and 16 infrared projectors that create a realistic 3D user avatar in real time. Four microphones and two speakers do more than just produce speech. They provide spatial audio to make speech sound like it’s coming from the avatar’s mouth.
Using 3D avatars makes communication more natural. In regular video chats with a webcam on top, eye contact is not achieved because you have to look at the screen to see the interlocutor. Avatars adjust the eyeline so that both users can look into each other’s eyes while talking.
To process all this, four video cards are used: two Quadro RTX 6000 and two Titan RTX.
The display is a 65-inch 8K 60Hz bi-convex panel that allows you to view a life-size 3D avatar image without glasses. Opposite the screen is infrared illumination and a bench fixed in place. It provides optimal reading of the user’s position in space and the display of someone else’s avatar. Google even built a small barrier between the bench and the display to hide the bottom of the display and enhance the presence.
People who have already tried Starline speak of it quite flatteringly. But keep in mind that Google sends invitations personally, and so far not many people have received them.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in small bathroom-sized video booths are unlikely to be widely adopted, but Google continues to develop and improve the device. It is not yet known when it will go on open sale and how much it will cost exactly.
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