The future of teleconferencing is becoming clearer, although still behind the fog – Starline project

Google is working on a project of a booth that will give the impression of the real presence of a person on the other side of the screen. Although the technology is not perfect and has a lot of shortcomings it is very impressive.

Alphabet Inc. has been in possession of the technology for years, which it decided to present during the Google I/O Keynote. Just because it has it does not mean it implements it, and it was shown as a form of curiosity rather than a finished product. Google emphasizes that it decided to take this step because the pandemic and the restrictions it caused mobilized the team to share the results of their work.

Starline project

Imagine that you are looking through a kind of magic window, and through this window you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions. You can speak naturally, gesture and make eye contact – we read in the blog That’s pretty much the whole description of this technology, although it doesn’t give it the applause it deserves. This is no ordinary photo booth, nor is it another ordinary teleconferencing tool. A network of cameras and sensors produce images that appear as if they were real, as if they were made of glass, and surround-sound technology makes it possible to experience a real presence unhindered by headsets.

Brilliant experience – although not quite

As one reporter writes on had the opportunity to experience a stay in such a cabin. He was delighted with the possibilities of Starline, although the spell was broken when he changed his position. It turns out that not from every angle the impressions are the same and while the image quality remains captivating, the feeling of euphoria disappears into the abyss of reality. Google employees are also aware of this, as they use Starline booths for internal business and supervisory meetings, continuing to improve the technology.

The data transfer revolution

Although the in-cab experience itself still needs to be refined, Clay Bavor does not want to involve additional tools like goggles, glasses, helmets or headsets from the VR or AR segment. The company wants to create an uncompromising solution giving the effect of ultra tele-presence without the use of any external applications. Although it may be difficult and time-consuming to get to this stage, so Starline has caused a small revolution in another aspect – in streaming.

Dual-channel lossless 3D streaming?

The whole series of data recording is transmitted in WebRTC mode. Explaining the acronym, it means network communication taking place at the same time – in real time. The same transmission infrastructure is operated by Google Meet, Alphabet’s main video conferencing app.

What of it? What’s special about it? Compression, stupid.

Google says it’s unique, and Mobile Trends shares that view, that compression enabling synchronous two-way streaming of video and still in 3D is certainly no mean feat. And this is where the Wired reporter steps in again, reminding us in the same material that for most users this information is useless. All because of the network connection they have. – It’s hard to imagine this kind of technology working seamlessly over your shoddy home Wi-Fi connection – stated uncompromisingly. But he wasn’t throwing words to the wind. His conviction stems from the knowledge that Starline engineers directly insisted that the cabin be permanently connected to the office network, whose bandwidth in such a huge corporation must be much higher than in the homes of mere mortals.

We believe that the future is yet to surprise us in this aspect, although the solution presented, despite its simplicity, already makes great hopes for a revolution in the video calling sector, itself being a kind of milestone leading to it.