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Google finally let someone try out its secret 'Project Starline' tech

YouTuber MKBHD had the opportunity to demo and record Google's immersive video call experiment.
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Published onMay 18, 2023

TL;DR
  • YouTuber MKBHD had the opportunity to try out and record Google’s Project Starline in action.
  • Project Starline tech has shrunk down in size from being a booth full of hardware to being not larger than a TV on a stand with some cameras and speakers.
  • It makes people and objects in video calls seem like they are with you in the same room.

Video calls have taken off rapidly in the last few years, with more and more people around the world appreciating the ease and convenience of meeting people virtually. But video calls with their flat 2D feed are no replacement for meeting someone in person. But what if you could go one step ahead and make video calls a lot more immersive? Google’s secretive Project Starline is the answer to that question, and Google has finally let someone outside the company demo it for the public.

YouTuber MKBHD had exclusive access and hands-on with the new and improved immersive video calling tech under Google’s Project Starline.

We last heard about Project Starline two years ago at Google I/O 2021. At the time, Google was experimenting with making video calls a lot more naturally three-dimensional and photorealistic without dipping into the realms of AR and VR like other tech companies. Project Starline instead relied on an all-new 3D display system that could project depth to the naked eye without needing specialized 3D glasses.

Back in 2021, Project Starline was almost a booth full of hardware that made these photorealistic video calls possible. But now in 2023, as demoed in MKBHD’s video showcase, Project Starline has drastically shrunk in size. It is practically just a big TV on a stand with a bunch of cameras, microphones, and speakers.

The tech has matured very well, making effective use of AI to create a depth map of the person in front and display it immersively on the other end.

Project Starline is still very much an experiment. But it gives us a window into what communication could look like in the future. Google has been very secretive about the project as it doesn’t translate very well when recording it, but MKBHD’s demo tries to give us a glimpse into how cool it is.

Some companies like Salesforce, WeWork, and T-Mobile have used some of these booths for meetings, but the tech itself is not open for purchase to retail consumers yet. You and I will still have to make do with Zoom calls for a while.