How Undertaking Starline improves distant communication – Google AI Weblog

As firms settle into a brand new regular of hybrid and distributed work, distant communication know-how stays essential for connecting and collaborating with colleagues. Whereas this know-how has improved, the core consumer expertise typically falls brief: dialog can really feel stilted, consideration may be tough to keep up, and utilization may be fatiguing.

Undertaking Starline renders folks at pure scale on a 3D show and permits pure eye contact.

At Google I/O 2021 we introduced Project Starline, a know-how mission that mixes advances in {hardware} and software program to create a distant communication expertise that feels such as you’re collectively, even if you’re 1000’s of miles aside. This notion of co-presence is created by representing customers in 3D at pure scale, enabling eye contact, and offering spatially correct audio. However to what extent do these technological improvements translate to significant, observable enchancment in consumer worth in comparison with conventional video conferencing?

On this weblog we share outcomes from quite a lot of research throughout quite a lot of methodologies, discovering converging proof that Undertaking Starline outperforms conventional video conferencing when it comes to dialog dynamics, video assembly fatigue, and attentiveness. A few of these outcomes have been previously published whereas others we’re sharing for the primary time as preliminary findings.

Improved dialog dynamics

In our qualitative research, customers typically describe conversations in Undertaking Starline as “extra pure.” Nonetheless, when requested to elaborate, many have issue articulating this idea in a means that totally captures their expertise. As a result of human communication depends partly on unconscious processes like nonverbal conduct, folks may need a tough time reflecting on these processes which are doubtlessly impacted by experiencing a novel know-how. To deal with this problem, we carried out a sequence of behavioral lab experiments to make clear what “extra pure” would possibly imply for Undertaking Starline. These experiments employed within-subjects designs wherein contributors skilled a number of situations (e.g., assembly in Undertaking Starline vs. conventional videoconferencing) in randomized order. This allowed us to manage for between-subject variations by evaluating how the identical particular person responded to quite a lot of situations, thus growing statistical energy and lowering the pattern dimension essential to detect statistical variations (pattern sizes in our behavioral experiments vary from ~ 20 to 30).

In a single research, preliminary knowledge recommend Undertaking Starline improves dialog dynamics by growing charges of turn-taking. We recruited pairs of contributors who had by no means met one another to have unstructured conversations in each Undertaking Starline and conventional video conferencing. We analyzed the audio from every dialog and located that Undertaking Starline facilitated considerably extra dynamic “forwards and backwards” conversations in comparison with conventional video conferencing. Particularly, contributors averaged about 2-3 extra speaker hand-offs in Undertaking Starline conversations in comparison with these in conventional video conferencing throughout a two minute subsample of their dialog (a uniform choice on the finish of every dialog to assist standardize for interpersonal rapport). Contributors additionally rated their Starline conversations as considerably extra pure (“easy,” “straightforward,” “not awkward”), increased in high quality, and simpler to acknowledge when it was their flip to talk in comparison with conversations utilizing conventional video conferencing.

In another study, contributors had conversations with a confederate in each Undertaking Starline and conventional video conferencing. We recorded these conversations to research select nonverbal behaviors. In Undertaking Starline, contributors have been extra animated, utilizing considerably extra hand gestures (+43%), head nods (+26%), and eyebrow actions (+49%). Contributors additionally reported a considerably higher capacity to understand and convey nonverbal cues in Undertaking Starline than in conventional video conferencing. Along with the turn-taking outcomes, these knowledge assist clarify why conversations in Undertaking Starline could really feel extra pure.

We recorded contributors to quantify their nonverbal behaviors and located that they have been extra animated in Undertaking Starline (left) in comparison with conventional video conferencing (proper).

Diminished video assembly fatigue

A well-documented problem of video conferencing, particularly throughout the office, is video assembly fatigue. The causes of video meeting fatigue are complex, however one chance is that video communication is cognitively taxing as a result of it turns into harder to convey and interpret nonverbal conduct. Contemplating earlier findings that prompt Undertaking Starline would possibly enhance nonverbal communication, we examined whether or not video assembly fatigue may also be improved (i.e., diminished) in comparison with conventional video conferencing.

Our research discovered preliminary proof that Undertaking Starline certainly reduces video assembly fatigue. Contributors held 30-minute mock conferences in Undertaking Starline and conventional video conferencing. Assembly content material was standardized throughout contributors utilizing an exercise adapted from academic literature that emulates key parts of a piece assembly, comparable to brainstorming and persuasion. We then measured video assembly fatigue through the Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue (ZEF) Scale. Moreover, we measured contributors’ response instances on a complex cognitive task initially utilized in cognitive psychology. We repurposed this process as a proxy for video assembly fatigue primarily based on the belief that extra fatigue would result in slower response instances. Contributors reported considerably much less video assembly fatigue on the ZEF Scale (-31%) and had sooner response instances (-12%) on the cognitive process after utilizing Undertaking Starline in comparison with conventional video conferencing.

Elevated attentiveness

One other problem with video conferencing is focusing consideration on the assembly at hand, reasonably than on different browser home windows or secondary gadgets.

In our earlier study on nonverbal behavior, we included an exploratory information-retention process. We requested contributors to jot down as a lot as they may bear in mind about every dialog (one in Undertaking Starline, and one in conventional video conferencing). We discovered that contributors wrote 28% extra on this process (by character depend) after their dialog in Undertaking Starline. This might be as a result of they paid nearer consideration when in Undertaking Starline, or presumably that they discovered conversations in Undertaking Starline to be extra partaking.

To discover the idea of attentiveness additional, we carried out a research wherein contributors wore eye-tracking glasses. This allowed us to calculate the share of time contributors spent specializing in their dialog accomplice’s face, an important source of social information in human interaction. Contributors had a dialog with a accomplice in Undertaking Starline, conventional video conferencing, and in individual. We discovered that contributors spent a considerably increased proportion of time their dialog accomplice’s face in Undertaking Starline (+14%) than they did in conventional video conferencing. In actual fact, visible attentiveness in Undertaking Starline mirrored that of the in-person situation: contributors spent roughly the identical proportion of time specializing in their assembly accomplice’s face within the Undertaking Starline and in-person situations.

The usage of eye-tracking glasses and facial detection software program allowed us to quantify contributors’ gaze patterns. The video above illustrates how a hypothetical participant’s eye monitoring knowledge (crimson dot) correspond to their assembly accomplice’s face (white field).

Person worth in actual conferences

The lab-based, experimental method used within the research above permits for causal inference whereas minimizing confounding variables. Nonetheless, one limitation of those research is that they’re low in external validity — that’s, they befell in a lab surroundings, and the extent to which their outcomes lengthen to the actual world is unclear. Thus, we studied precise customers inside Google who used Undertaking Starline for his or her day-to-day work conferences and picked up their suggestions.

An internal pilot revealed that customers derive significant worth from utilizing Undertaking Starline. We used post-meeting surveys to seize rapid suggestions on particular person conferences, longer month-to-month surveys to seize holistic suggestions on the expertise, and carried out in-depth qualitative interviews with a subset of customers. We evaluated Undertaking Starline on ideas comparable to presence, nonverbal conduct, attentiveness, and private connection. We discovered sturdy proof that Undertaking Starline delivered throughout these 4 metrics, with over 87% of contributors expressing that their conferences in Undertaking Starline have been higher than their earlier experiences with conventional video conferencing.


Collectively, these findings provide a compelling case for Undertaking Starline’s worth to customers: improved dialog dynamics, diminished video assembly fatigue, and elevated attentiveness. Contributors expressed that Undertaking Starline was a big enchancment over conventional video conferencing in extremely managed lab experiments, in addition to once they used Undertaking Starline for his or her precise work conferences. We’re excited to see these findings converge throughout a number of methodologies (surveys, qualitative interviews, experiments) and measurements (self-report, behavioral, qualitative), and we’re wanting to proceed exploring the implications of Undertaking Starline on human interplay.


We’d wish to thank Melba Tellez, Eric Baczuk, Jinghua Zhang, Matthew DuVall, and Travis Miller for contributing to visible property and illustrations.

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