Thanks to ongoing global pandemic, friends and family can count the months they haven̵
Let’s take the patch off with the bad news up front: You can’t buy Google’s new magic window. The company didn’t call this “Project” Starlink for nothing. It’s quite likely that even if Google put the thing up for sale today, it would be priced so high that the average person wouldn’t be able to afford it at all.
But the whole concept is astonishing and not quite magical, a word that is often used too often. Project Starlink looks like a modern vanity at first, only with the mirror removed from the frame. But turn it on and you’ll greet yourself with a life-size 3D image of a person so real you’ll want to touch them.
It’s Zoom meets Augmented Reality, and it relies on a lot of cameras to make the magic happen. At each end, a series of cameras capture images of a person from different angles and then compose the information. Spatial audio and careful positioning of the video allow you to make “eye contact” with the person you are talking to, even if they are not in the room.
Google had to come up with new ways to compress the large amount of data it takes to run Project Starline, and it’s not clear if that will hold up over long distances. For now, every test of the system took place in Google’s offices. Nor is it a perfect system yet. Watch the videos carefully and you will see deviations in the hair, in the chin line and even skin tones look a bit different.
But based on the reactions of the people in the video and seeing the video itself, it’s convincing enough for now. People tried to reach out and touch each other in the demos, despite knowing they weren’t in the room together.
Google says it’s working to make the technology more affordable and accessible, and even launch a trial version of Enterprise with partners later this year. And speaking of later this year, the company promised more information would come. But for now, Google has just demonstrated one of the most remarkable and compelling uses of Augmented Reality to date – it brings us closer together no matter how far apart we really are.