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Google’s Next-Gen Video Chat Tech Is Ready for the Real World

There are some good news. anyone who’s sick of Zoom calls but also hates talking to people in real life: Google’s Project Starline is becoming more widely available.

Starline was introduced by Google in 2021 to make video calls easier and less awkward. This is basically a complicated video conferencing booth. It uses depth sensors, cameras and 3-D imagery to replicate face-to–face conversations between distant participants. A suite of cameras even track both participants’ eye movements and adjust the view on the other side to enable the two people to make eye contact. The camera creates the impression that you are sitting right across the person, which makes it feel more real. It has been tried by others.

Google Video

Google has begun testing the Starline setup within the company and now plans to open Starline booths at its offices. Starline won’t work for you unless you are a partner with Google in the US. T-Mobile, Salesforce and WeWork to name just a few. Google’s plans for the technology are not yet clear. Google has described it as a means for coworkers and relatives who live far away to communicate. Remote workers may find it easier to have more natural interactions. Although you are stuck in the Starline booth you have an option to move around without a headset.

Here’s some more of this week’s news from the Gear desk.

Coasters iPhone

Apple used several occasions at its September iPhone event to terrorize anyone daring to venture out from their homes. Apple’s true goal was to highlight the emergency response features in its new iPhones and Apple Watches. One of those was crash detection, which can automatically call emergency services when the phone senses you’ve been in an auto collision. Apple claims its hardware detects sudden stops or inversions in an accident. But you don’t know what other places these movements could occur? A roller coaster.

iPhone users reported riding on the twisty-turny rollercoasters at US theme parks, only to discover later that their phones had called the cops. Some cases have seen emergency workers arrive on the spot to respond to false alarms. Critics are concerned that it could lead to a monopoly on emergency telephone lines. Apple said that this issue is rare and the technology will get better over time.

You can wish upon a polestar

Polestar, a Swedish automaker has unveiled a brand new electric car. Polestar 3 SUV is all-wheel-drive. According to company claims, the 400-V lithium battery will last for up 300 miles. A dashboard with Nvidia’s computer powering it projects driver information onto the windshield.

The price starts at $83,900. This is almost twice the cost of the original Polestar 2 model’s debut price. There isn’t an official release date for the Polestar 3, but the company says it plans to start selling the vehicles toward the end of 2023.

The Zuck Zone

Mark Zuckerberg is a big believer in the metaverse. Meta, Mark Zuckerberg’s company, has already invested millions of dollars in virtual reality, as they believe it will one day be mainstream. The problem is that this bet won’t pay off for a very long time. Meta has just unveiled a $1,500 new VR headset. Although the technology is very cool, there is still not much evidence that people are eager to put on VR headsets and jump into virtual reality. (Never mind that the headset also uses inward-facing cameras to track the wearer’s eye movements and facial expressions, which raised privacy concerns—especially because It’s Meta at the other end.

Our Weekly Highlights Gadget Lab Podcast, WIRED Editor-at-large Steven Levy is the author of this book Facebook: Inside Story, joins the show to discuss Meta’s VR ambitions and when—if ever—VR might finally take off.

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