In 2021, Google announced Project Starline, its holographic video call booth. Utilizing 3D images, custom sensors, a light field display and high-res cameras, Project Starline allows users to experience realistic video calls for both parties involved without the need for a VR headset. Now, Google is launching an early access program allowing offices to test Starline.
Starline booth prototypes will be installed in select Salesforce, WeWork and Hackensack Meridian Health offices, among others, later this year. Previously, Starline booths were only being tested by company employees within Google’s own offices. The early access program will allow over 100 enterprise partners to test the capability of the 3D call booths in meetings, employee onboarding and other necessary communications. Said offices will provide Google with feedback on their experience with the call booth.
“In today’s digital-first world, companies need to provide the technology and tools to help employees be more productive and effective at work,” said Andy White, Business Technology SVP at Salesforce. “At Salesforce, we’re constantly exploring new ways to deliver incredible experiences to our employees and customers around the world. Project Starline has the potential to drive deeper connections between people by bridging in-person and virtual experiences.”
Is There An Audience For Starline?
When most people think of VR, digital avatars and metaverse locations come to mind. Not long ago, owning A VR headset seemed like a far-off fantasy. However, virtual reality gaming has really taken off over the last several years. Recently, PlayStation and Meta announced the PS VR2 and Quest 3 headsets, respectively. Clearly, there’s a market for VR headsets, but one wonders if there is enough of an audience for Google’s Starline.
How Google will commercialize the new tech is currently unclear. Additionally, with inexpensive tools like Zoom readily available to businesses, it’s fair to ask whether companies will want virtual calling booths. However, enterprise partners such as WeWork are expressing interest in testing the 3D calling booth.
“The proliferation of hybrid work models is creating new opportunities to fundamentally rethink how we collaborate in the workplace,” says Scott Morey, president of technology & innovation at WeWork. “Project Starline is at the forefront of this shift, providing an incredible user experience that bridges the gap between our physical and virtual worlds. At WeWork, we believe this technology has the potential to enrich the employee experience – making connections more intentional and meaningful.”