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Google’s latest Project Starline prototype uses AI to create 3D images of people


Today at I/O, Google announced the latest Project Starline prototype, its 3D teleconferencing video booth. At first glance, the biggest difference is a dramatic reduction in hardware. The earlier model, shown late last year, relied on several cameras to capture speakers from all angles. This time out, however, the system has only a “few” of them, leaning on AI and ML to generate a convincing three-dimensional image of the subject.

According to Google, these hardware updates have allowed the system to “go from the size of a restaurant booth to a flat-screen TV.” It notes in a blog post,

Our earlier Project Starline prototypes took up an entire room and required complex hardware like infrared light emitters and special cameras to create a live 3D model of the person you were talking to. While the results were impressive, the size and complexity of the system made it challenging to bring to many of today’s offices.

Google has already begun testing the latest prototype with a number of high-profile partners, including T-Mobile, Salesforce, and WeWork.

“Trust and innovation are at the core of Salesforce’s values,” said Salesforce SVP Andy White. “Project Starline has the potential to help create authentic and compelling connections that foster deeper relationships with both our employees and customers, increase trust and transparency, and drive productivity and efficiency.”

The news comes hot on the heels of Logitech’s Project Ghost teleconferencing booth — though that device offers a more two-dimensional experience in a much larger form factor. Both products come amid a transformed workforce in which working from home has become the rule rather than the exception for many companies.

No details on timeline — or price — for the new system.

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