How Mission Starline improves distant communication – Google AI Weblog

As corporations settle into a brand new regular of hybrid and distributed work, distant communication expertise stays essential for connecting and collaborating with colleagues. Whereas this expertise has improved, the core person expertise usually falls brief: dialog can really feel stilted, consideration could be troublesome to keep up, and utilization could be fatiguing.

Mission 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 expertise challenge that mixes advances in {hardware} and software program to create a distant communication expertise that feels such as you’re collectively, even while 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 person worth in comparison with conventional video conferencing?

On this weblog we share outcomes from quite a lot of research throughout a wide range of methodologies, discovering converging proof that Mission Starline outperforms conventional video conferencing by way of 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 usually describe conversations in Mission Starline as “extra pure.” Nevertheless, when requested to elaborate, many have problem articulating this idea in a method that totally captures their expertise. As a result of human communication depends partly on unconscious processes like nonverbal habits, folks might need a tough time reflecting on these processes which might be doubtlessly impacted by experiencing a novel expertise. To handle this problem, we performed a collection of behavioral lab experiments to make clear what “extra pure” would possibly imply for Mission Starline. These experiments employed within-subjects designs wherein members skilled a number of circumstances (e.g., assembly in Mission Starline vs. conventional videoconferencing) in randomized order. This allowed us to regulate for between-subject variations by evaluating how the identical particular person responded to a wide range of circumstances, thus rising statistical energy and lowering the pattern measurement essential to detect statistical variations (pattern sizes in our behavioral experiments vary from ~ 20 to 30).

In a single research, preliminary knowledge recommend Mission Starline improves dialog dynamics by rising charges of turn-taking. We recruited pairs of members who had by no means met one another to have unstructured conversations in each Mission Starline and conventional video conferencing. We analyzed the audio from every dialog and located that Mission Starline facilitated considerably extra dynamic “backwards and forwards” conversations in comparison with conventional video conferencing. Particularly, members averaged about 2-3 extra speaker hand-offs in Mission 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). Individuals 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, members had conversations with a confederate in each Mission Starline and conventional video conferencing. We recorded these conversations to investigate select nonverbal behaviors. In Mission Starline, members have been extra animated, utilizing considerably extra hand gestures (+43%), head nods (+26%), and eyebrow actions (+49%). Individuals additionally reported a considerably higher means to understand and convey nonverbal cues in Mission Starline than in conventional video conferencing. Along with the turn-taking outcomes, these knowledge assist clarify why conversations in Mission Starline could really feel extra pure.

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

Lowered 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 risk is that video communication is cognitively taxing as a result of it turns into harder to convey and interpret nonverbal habits. Contemplating earlier findings that urged Mission Starline would possibly enhance nonverbal communication, we examined whether or not video assembly fatigue may additionally be improved (i.e., lowered) in comparison with conventional video conferencing.

Our research discovered preliminary proof that Mission Starline certainly reduces video assembly fatigue. Individuals held 30-minute mock conferences in Mission Starline and conventional video conferencing. Assembly content material was standardized throughout members 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 by way of the Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue (ZEF) Scale. Moreover, we measured members’ response instances on a complex cognitive task initially utilized in cognitive psychology. We repurposed this process as a proxy for video assembly fatigue based mostly on the idea that extra fatigue would result in slower response instances. Individuals reported considerably much less video assembly fatigue on the ZEF Scale (-31%) and had quicker response instances (-12%) on the cognitive process after utilizing Mission Starline in comparison with conventional video conferencing.

Elevated attentiveness

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

In our earlier study on nonverbal behavior, we included an exploratory information-retention process. We requested members to put in writing as a lot as they may bear in mind about every dialog (one in Mission Starline, and one in conventional video conferencing). We discovered that members wrote 28% extra on this process (by character rely) after their dialog in Mission Starline. This may very well be as a result of they paid nearer consideration when in Mission Starline, or probably that they discovered conversations in Mission Starline to be extra participating.

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

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

Consumer worth in actual conferences

The lab-based, experimental method used within the research above permits for causal inference whereas minimizing confounding variables. Nevertheless, one limitation of those research is that they’re low in external validity — that’s, they happened in a lab atmosphere, and the extent to which their outcomes prolong to the actual world is unclear. Thus, we studied precise customers inside Google who used Mission 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 Mission Starline. We used post-meeting surveys to seize speedy suggestions on particular person conferences, longer month-to-month surveys to seize holistic suggestions on the expertise, and performed in-depth qualitative interviews with a subset of customers. We evaluated Mission Starline on ideas comparable to presence, nonverbal habits, attentiveness, and private connection. We discovered sturdy proof that Mission Starline delivered throughout these 4 metrics, with over 87% of members expressing that their conferences in Mission Starline have been higher than their earlier experiences with conventional video conferencing.


Collectively, these findings provide a compelling case for Mission Starline’s worth to customers: improved dialog dynamics, lowered video assembly fatigue, and elevated attentiveness. Individuals expressed that Mission Starline was a major enchancment over conventional video conferencing in extremely managed lab experiments, in addition to after they used Mission 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 desirous to proceed exploring the implications of Mission Starline on human interplay.


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

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