“We have a lounge chair here for me,” he said. Grainger-Herr said during a recent video call from the IWC’s headquarters in Schaffhausen, ‘and a lounge chair for clients in Shanghai, and we both had a conversation with each other at eye level. ”
While the visitors he spoke to were in person at the Shanghai meeting, Mr. Grainger-Herr chose the next best thing: he attended it as a hologram.
“It’s strikingly different from a Zoom call,” he added, “because you are head to head – and everyone wears pants.”
The technology that Mr. Enabled Grainger-Herr to realize in Shanghai that a life-size, three-dimensional unit with square resolution – in real time – belongs to the company Portl. Using its own software, people can send themselves to more than 100 of its Epic machines, in places around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Barcelona and Miami.
Holoportation has existed in one form or another since the 1860s, when the English scientist John Henry Pepper popularized Pepper’s Ghost, an optical illusion favored by theatrical productions. (It depends on a corner glass to reflect an image for the audience.) In 2012, a version of the technology appeared to revive Tupac Shakur from the dead for a performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival in California.
Portl CEO David Nussbaum said that, unlike the process, its Epic machines – shiny white projection cabinets that look like telephone spaces in space age – do not require total darkness, or that they involve a complicated setup has.
“No technicians are needed on either side,” he said during a recent interview at Portl’s headquarters in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. ‘It’s a single background, a single sound source, a single light source and a single camera. You only need four chapters of production equipment. ‘
(The Epic devices also allow hologram users such as Mr. Grainger-Herr to have a close-up view of the distant people they interact with.)
Mr. Nussbaum is convinced that holograms are the future of retail, travel and communications. (‘You can not be there, radiate there,’ he said.) Until technology gains wider acceptance, however, he promises one thing: ‘When a hologram appears somewhere, it’s also a large audience and their social media . ‘
For mr. Grainger-Herr is holoportation promising for several reasons: it not only helps to personalize an interaction between the brand and its prospective customers, but also helps IWC to expand its retail relationships without the logistical complications associated with physical presence.
“It gives me a lot more flexibility,” he said, “especially in China, where I can go to cities where we do not yet have a store network.”
“Imagine a pre-recorded hologram presentation,” he added. “Then you scan a QR code, or press a button, and you talk to one of our ambassadors in a much more realistic way.”
There’s just one hiccup. “You try to walk up to someone and shake hands,” he said. Grainger-Herr said. “And then you realize it’s not quite working that way yet.”