Google Starline Project; Ability to make 3D video calls in one step

If you are interested in the science fiction genre, you must have seen in these films that video calls to people are very similar to what we make today with Thames or WhatsApp or Skype, and are much more exciting and effective. In these films, the so-called person behind the line seems to be standing right in front of us in the form of a hologram, talking to us just like in reality, and we feel that if we reach out, we can touch him.

As it turns out, we are much closer to this sci-fi image than we thought, and we owe it to Google’s efforts to develop the Starline project. In a new research paper, Google unveiled the details of the technology used in the Starline project, a demo of which we saw at this year’s I / O conference. The Starline project is basically something like a 3D video calling room that replaces 2D video calling to make it feel like the person we are calling is sitting right in front of us.

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His idea may seem simple; But Google’s research paper shows how challenging the process of tricking the human brain into thinking someone is really sitting in front of it. Obviously, in this 3D video call, the image we see of the person must be very sharp and the size and angle of this 3D image must match our sitting position in this room. Voice discussion is another problem; Because the system has to reconstruct the sound as if words are coming out of the mouth. Another issue is making eye contact.

The difference between a real and a rendered image in a Starline project

Compare reality with a rendered image of Google’s Starline system

The ultimate goal of designing a Starline project is to be able to present a sense of presence similar to virtual reality or augmented reality; Without the need for users to wear heavy headphones or motion detection sensors.

Starline uses a light field display system instead of a hologram, which evokes a sense of volume and depth for the viewer. This display system does not require virtual augmented reality glasses or headsets and looks like a mirror where you can see the person you are contacting instead; It’s as if he’s really sitting on the other side of the screen talking to you in real time. In describing the project, Google said:

As soon as you sit in a chair and start talking, the technology disappears in the background and you can focus on what is most important: the person sitting in front of you.

If we want to introduce the Starline project in a more specialized way, we have to say that this system includes a large 65-inch 8k panel with a 60Hz refresh rate, surrounded by three “recording pods” that can capture color images and in-depth data. The system is also equipped with four motion detection cameras, four microphones, two speakers and infrared projectors. In total, the system captures color images from four angles and three depth maps to establish seven video streams. The sound is recorded at a frequency of 44.1 kHz and is broadcast at a speed of 256 kbps.

Google Starline Project

Obviously, all of these advanced hardware generates a lot of data that is needed to transmit enough bandwidth. According to Google, data transfer bandwidth varies from 30 to 100 Mbps depending on “the details of the texture in the user’s clothing and the amount of body movement.” Although this bandwidth is considerably higher than the bandwidth required for a simple Skype video call, it is not large enough for an office in a large city to handle.

The Starline project is also equipped with four Nvidia high-end graphics cards to process this data, including two Quadro RTX 6000 cards and two Titan RTX cards. The average end-to-end delay in video calls is 105.8 milliseconds. Google says it has “spent thousands of hours testing the Starline project” and has received feedback from selected healthcare and media partners on its applications and technology. The pilot phase of this project with Google’s organizational partners is scheduled to be launched soon.

Google Starline Project

The Starline project looks very exciting and promising; But it is not yet clear when it will be commercialized. Also, very little information is available on the cost of the hardware used in this project; But overall, we can hope that in the near future, with the Starline project, we will have a small experience with Metavars.

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