It looked like I could grab the apple. Jason Lawrence, a Google researcher, was sitting across from me, holding the fruit in his hand. I could see it, it was red and shiny, and my brain was telling me it was right there . But Lawrence and the apple were actually in another room — they were just being projected in front of me through Google’s Project Starline.
Project Starline is Google’s next-generation 3D video chat booth that it first introduced at Google I/O 2021 . Slide into a booth, and your image is supposed to be projected to another booth in real time, as if you’re actually sitting with somebody else across a table. In a heartwarming video , Google showed family and friends joyfully connecting with each other using Starline, and the virtual recreations looked remarkably lifelike. “That was mindblowing,” one person says in the video. “I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve never seen this,” said another.
But in the year since, Google has largely kept the project under wraps — until now. The company invited me to check out Starline for myself, and I was eager to find out if it would live up to the hype.
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