Image credit: PORTL
Retailers are familiar with the challenges of capturing consumers—and their money—in the era of ecommerce, and COVID-19 has made connecting with buyers even more tricky. As in-person shopping begins to ramp up, companies are seeking new ways to engage customers, both in-store and online. Augmented reality and 3D imaging are among the tools that draw in customers.
3D imaging is used by companies to showcase products on ecommerce sites, and AR allows customers to digitally try-before-you-buy. Companies such as Vntana work with retailers to create 3D digital models of shoes, apparel, accessories, and other consumer goods. Online stores post the 3D image, allowing customers to get a full view of a product prior to purchasing.
Nike and IKEA were early adopters of this technology. Nike’s app lets users measure their feet and then virtually try on specific shoes from home. IKEA offers a home decorating app that allows customers to drop in 3D models of its furniture. The company saw online revenue jump 43 percent, in part due to introducing AR and 3D technologies.
A Holo New Vision
Now retailers can take 3D imaging a step further and use holograms to entice in-person shoppers to enter their stores. The 3D Rewards Center kiosk from ProVision Interactive Technologies uses Holo 3D holographic technology that can beam an image of a product in front of the kiosk. The 3D images don’t require special viewing glasses, and they are projected in full color.
ProVision’s HoloVision technology uses a proprietary optical system and companion software, called HoloSoft. Both link to a digital display system that uses natural light to create the aerial 3D images. The kiosks are equipped with Intel® Core® vPro® processors to support the holographic display and provide more security. Using the Intel® Retail Client Manager®, operators can program image projection, create targeted marketing messages, and analyze customer engagement.
ProVision’s 3D Rewards Center comes as a single or dual station kiosk intended for indoor use. The single station has a 17-inch 3D holographic screen that projects images up to a foot away. It has an integrated touch screen and mini printer, so consumers can receive coupons, rewards, and promotions at the point of purchase. ProVision’s dual station kiosk features a 40-inch 3D holographic screen to project images up to three feet away, and it has two customer-interfacing screens and printers. Both versions have integrated speakers and audio systems to enhance the visual marketing capabilities.
From Stores to Stars
Hologram technology was helpful last year during the pandemic when large gatherings were mostly cancelled. Watch manufacturers were able to show products virtually during a Zoom-based industry trade show. On the entertainment side, country singer Kane Brown sang to Zoom viewers at the iHeartRadio Music Festival. Brown was “beamed” on stage, where he performed with two live singers.
Image credit: PORTL/iHeartRadio Music Festival
In both cases, the technology came from PORTL, a Los Angeles-based holographic technology company. PORTL has created the Epic PORTL, a refrigerator-sized booth integrated with the AI-powered hologram projection system. The public figure or subject is captured by special cameras and the 4D image appears inside the Epic PORTL booth on the other end. PORTL calls this “holoportation.” The booth has speakers and a forward-facing, motion-sensing camera, which allows viewers to interact in real-time with the subject. Satellite transmission eliminates latency issues.
PORTL has sold its booths for use in airports, shopping malls, and movie theaters. The company recently partnered with StoryFile, an LA-based company that creates holograms of people telling their life stories, read our related article. The agreement will make StoryFIle’s content available through the Epic PORTL. Once the machine is powered, users can select content through a mobile app. A smaller version of the PORTL device is expected later this year.