Google reveals new details about Starline: video calls that (almost) allow you to touch the interlocutor

Today we are talking about Starline technology, looking into the eyes of the person speaking to you goes far beyond the elementary education standards. There are studies —such as those of Albert Mehrabian— that maintain that in a face-to-face talk, 35% of the information comes from the conversation, the “verbal component”, and the remaining 65% from what is usually It is called “non-verbal communication”: fuss, grimaces, inflections in the tone of voice. Only gestures and signals would represent 55% of all the information we perceive.

With these clear percentages, Google has launched the development of a 3D communication tool based on telepresence: Project Starline. And although it is still polishing details – with promising results, yes – it has taken advantage of the Google I / O developer conference to generate excitement and, incidentally, whet an appetite in a society in which teleworking has been popularized in the last year and a half due to a pandemic.

Starline’s objective is to stretch the concept of “telepresence” as far as possible, so that —beyond the distance that separates them— the interlocutors feel that they share the same space. To achieve this, they have basically created a 3D video chat booth with a quality that exceeds that of the usual 2D video conferences. The idea is to achieve a sensation similar to that of virtual or augmented reality, but without the users having to use headphones, glasses or any other bulky, uncomfortable and annoying wearable during the conversation.

Mission: achieve the maximum sense of co-presence

As detailed by Google technicians, Starline is equipped with two main structures: a display unit with a screen, cameras, speakers, microphones, illuminators and a computer; and another with infrared backlighting. As specified in The Verge, the system has a large 65-inch 8K panel that operates at 60Hz and “capture modules” for color images and depth data. Four additional tracking cameras, microphones, speakers and infrared projectors add to the feeling of ‘co-presence’ .

Not everything is solved, of course. Google recognizes that its tool still has “limitations” and that some aspects remain to be polished to achieve the effect it seeks. Elements such as the user’s hair or glasses, without going any further, can generate geometry and texture errors and break the feeling of “co-presence”.

In the list of pending tasks – collects Europa Press – there are details related to depth systems, stereo sound or color. Among the goals of Google would also be that Starline allows increasing the number of interlocutors. The goal, they insist, is to achieve “the feeling that two people are together, including proximity, eye contact and interaction . “

The path, in any case, is promising. Over nine months, Google technicians examined 308 meetings with an average duration of 35.2 minutes . Of the 296 responses they received after the tests, 87% indicated a slightly better feeling or frankly better than that of traditional videoconferencing in aspects such as the feeling of presence, attention, personal connection and the ability to measure the reactions of the interlocutor. What’s more, the technicians even found that the participants remembered more of the content of the meeting .You know, the more realism, the more information load.

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