I was recently interviewed on the Sunrise breakfast TV program on the next phase of video calling, which will shift to far more immersive technologies.
The segment focuses on Google’s Project Starline, which enables 3D calls by performing real-time 3D scans of people and projecting them as 3D models in a dedicated remote booth.
Volumetric video capture using depth sensors such as LIDAR has been done for quite some time, but we are only just beginning to get past the massive technical barriers, including overlaying visual and depth data using machine learning, the sheer extent of the data capture, fast enough communication, and then projecting the scan live so people can perceive it as 3D without using glasses.
Google has been cagey about the specific technologies they are using. The basic principles of what they are doing are pretty clear, though it certainly appears that they have pushed the technologies further than anyone else. That takes substantial money and resources, something that Google happens to have.
Project Starline is currently available in just a few of our offices and it relies on custom-built hardware and highly specialized equipment. We believe this is where person-to-person communication technology can and should go, and in time, our goal is to make this technology more affordable and accessible, including bringing some of these technical advancements into our suite of communication products.
While there are exciting new technologies on the horizon including true holography (something for another post), the potential of getting realistic 3D communication to many is now visible.
Don’t expect this to come soon, what Google has demonstrated is a technological marvel. But in time these kinds of immersive 3D video calls will be accessible certainly inside many companies, and eventually to all of us.