Google takes inspiration from Star Trek to replace meetings on Zoom

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The prototypes of Google's Starline project will be tested by companies.

Google takes inspiration from Star Trek to replace meetings on Zoom

In 2020, businesses had to adapt quickly to restrictions caused by the pandemic. And the meetings that we used to do physically have been moved to videoconferencing tools.

Zoom, which most people have never heard of, has become one of the most popular apps in the world. And the competitors quickly activated. Google, for example, has made its Meet tool available for free, and has integrated it into Gmail.

But at the same time, the Mountain View company is already developing technologies that could one day replace videoconferencing . And one of these projects, called Starline, seems directly inspired by the Star Trek universe (holodeck).

Google wants to replace video conferencing with holograms

The health situation is better today than it was a year or two ago, but video conferencing is not going away. Indeed, while returning to the office is possible, many organizations have embraced hybrid working, allowing employees (when possible) to work from home on a few days of the week.

For its part, Google has continued to develop its Starline project, formalized in 2021. But what is it? In essence, Starline allows users to communicate via a kind of hologram instead of traditional video apps like Zoom, WhatsApp, or Google Meet. On each end, the users are in a station which contains a battery of 3D sensors, making it possible to reproduce the shapes of the people, as well as their movements.

 Google takes inspiration from Star Trek to replace Zoom meetings

© Google

< p>The speaker is displayed on “a revolutionary light field display system that creates a sense of volume and depth that can be felt without the need for additional glasses or headsets,” according to Google's explanation. He claims that when you use his telepresence system, you have the impression that the person you are chatting with is actually in front of you. In order to develop this system, Google used its research in computer vision, artificial intelligence, but also compression (in fact, it was necessary to compress the data so that they travel in real time from one end to end).

 Google takes inspiration from Star Trek to replace Zoom meetings

© Google

< h2>Little by little, the Starline project is arriving in the offices

As early as 2021, Google tested these holograms in its offices, allowing employees located in California and New York to communicate using this revolutionary system. And now, other companies will also be able to take advantage of it.

Indeed, the Mountain View company has given early access to this technology to a few American companies, including WeWork and the telephone operator T-Mobile . Before the end of the year, the prototypes of the Starline project will be installed in the premises of the companies selected by the firm.

Previously, Google had already given access to the technology to certain companies, but only in the framework of demonstrations, to obtain feedback. But what would be the point of these holograms compared to traditional video conferencing tools? According to Google, Starline “can increase employee presence, attention, and productivity”.

But at this time, it's unclear when Google will bring the technology to market . In any case, for the moment, it has not yet obtained the green light from the American authorities (the FCC) for marketing or rental.

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