At the I/O 2021 event last night, Google announced Project Starline – its latest videoconferencing tech.

But how is it different from Google Meet or Skype?

It aims to bring you almost face-to-face with the person you speak with.

“Imagine looking through a sort of magic window, and through that window, you see another person, life-size and in three dimensions. You can talk naturally, gesture, and make eye contact,” Google explains the tech in its blog.

With Project Starline, Google aims to make video conferencing more immersive by turning you into a hologram.

Google is applying research in computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and real-time compression for the tech to work. Google says that it is also working on a “light field display system,” which will create a sense of volume and depth without the need for additional glasses or headsets. The effect created would be of a person sitting just across from you, like they are right there, across a window.

The essential idea that Google draws is that the person you speak with seems like they right there, and when you talk to them, there is no UI to distract you.

Project Starline is available in a few Google offices, and it uses “custom-built hardware and highly specialized equipment.” Google has already used Project Starline with its employees for conversations between the Bay Area, New York, and Seattle. Google has also demonstrated the technology with “select enterprise partners” in healthcare and media.

The trial deployments for Project Starline are scheduled to begin later this year.

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