The Virtues of Virtual: Holograms FTW

The Virtues of Virtual: Holograms FTW

What’s in this article:

  • Now you can be in one place and appear to be in another in 3D to create a memorable experience for your target audience without the wanted time and cost involved in physical travel
  • Clients who have used the tech have shared their viewer metrics and found that the “holographic presentation scores higher for entertainment value and for engagement, as well as retention of content” than presentations with everyone in-person

What’s better than being there live? Being there via hologram. Now you can be in one place and appear to be in another in 3D to create a memorable experience for your target audience without the wanted time and cost involved in physical travel.

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Larry O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer at ARHT Media Inc. spoke with me about the advantages of using hologram technology to create an experience that retains audience attention even more than live presences do. It’s what makes the difference between virtual events that are flat (literally in two dimensions) and far more engaging 3D ones.

The speakers that will appear as holograms can join an event anywhere in the world live, interact with others on stage, and even see and hear the audience. The head-to-toe holograms convey the full range of human body language. When they get the camera angles and lighting just right, for the viewers, the effect is “your brain is telling you that person is in the room with you,” he said.

Clients who have used the tech have shared their viewer metrics and found that the “holographic presentation scores higher for entertainment value and for engagement, as well as retention of content” than presentations with everyone in-person.

You can see the technology demonstrated in front of a live audience in this video:

Live Hologram Presentation At The CPBI FORUM 2019 from ARHT Media Inc on Vimeo.

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Pandemic impact

It had primarily been used to bring someone into a stage in front of an audience. That application was put on hold when the pandemic struck, which “had a very negative impact,” O’Reilly said.

But pivoting to online global virtual stages when travel was off the table made it even more valuable. As he explained, the mistake that people made when they had to shift from live events to digital channels was attempting to simply recreate live events online in realtime.

That didn’t work because viewing an event like that on a screen is boring. You have to “adapt the content to the medium.”

The key to successful virtual events

When people are viewing things on a screen, they expect to see “a lot of fast cuts, action, entertainment, etc.” Those who provided that “were the big winners.”

Speaking of winners, award shows provided some examples of successful transitions to virtual technology. One that stood out in particular was the Green Carpet Award show for sustainable clothing design and manufacturing.

This show was a first not just in being virtual but in drawing on a combination of technologies including AR, gaming and  holograms that are described in GCFA, Italia 2020: Going Virtual, Staying Sustainable – The Technology Transforming The Green Carpet Fashion Awards For 2020.

Only a limited number of celebrities, including Livia and Colin Firth were present in person, but many others were present as holograms that interacted with the presenters in Milan just the way a person would. Among them was Robert Downey Jr., who introduced the show by talking about the technology involved.

A significant upside for virtual events over in-person ones is the possibility of reaching a much larger audience. O’Reilly noted that in this quote for the article: “The GCFA is limited to about 1800 people when it’s an in-person experience in La Scala, but we expect millions of people to see this because we’re bringing it to a much bigger audience.”

The 180K viewers on YouTube alone, as you can see from the link, corroborates that:

Beyond that channel, it was streamed in different countries on various channels, including the Fashion Channel in the Americas. Because, as O’Reilly described, “it looked like a professional TV show,” and it drew in audiences with engaging content.

Hologram advantages

The advantage of streaming the event to reach a larger audience than the amount of people who can attend in person doesn’t just apply to an awards show; it can work for any presentation for a brand. O’Reilly recounted a respiratory conference that was supposed to take place in Germany that used the technology to beam in three research scientists, from Greece, Australia, and Germany who were able to interact with each other on the stage set.

Normally, the conference gets up to 500 attendees, but the virtual version garnered 2400 views.

The “uniqueness” of it gets people to watch, and that translates into “more eyeballs” on the presentation, as well as increased engagement and better retention of what they’ve seen, O’Reilly explained.

Accordingly, he summed up four benefits for companies who use the technology in place of flying people in to attend in person:

  1. Hologram presentations are a very sticky from a branding perspective.
  2. They save money on travel costs.
  3. It’s more efficient than sending people who have to spend hours or even days on travel.
  4. Reducing plane travel reduces the carbon footprint of the business.

Reuse contributes even more to efficiency. Those who use the tech can create assets to be shown again and again in different places. That gives them “quality control for consistency of presentation.”

Those benefits apply even when travel and safety restrictions will be lifted. That’s why O’Reilly is certain that businesses will continue to use holograms even when they can opt for live over streaming solutions.

He predicts that businesses will cut their travel budgets because the “quality tech allows them to communicate with impact.” The impact is not just for the moment but remembering the content afterwards.

ARHT no longer has to even fly a person out to set up the tech for clients as it had to do three years ago. That has reduced the cost by about 75% to bring the price of production down to $15-20K. At that price point, it becomes affordable to most businesses, and they estimate to recoup their capital investment within three to four months.

Tech-enabled storytelling

But it’s not just a matter of cost savings. O’Reilly attributes his company’s high level of repeat business to the proven efficacy of using holograms as the ultimate enhancement to storytelling.

For now, their biggest use case remains in the healthcare space. The tech is used to educate doctors and medical practitioners with presenters able to address multiple audiences in different places at the same time.

O’Reilly sees new retail possibilities for it for high end personal shopping in which customers get   to meet couture designers from abroad as part of their personal shopping experience. “People would pay for that.”

Current clients also include universities that bring in special guests from anywhere in the world, the entertainment industry, or any business that uses meetings and events to connect with people. The technology is what transforms a standard presentation into a unique and memorable branding experience that audiences remember.

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