Holograms make a comeback for enterprise marketing

After (decades of) false starts, hologram-based augmented reality is enterprise’s latest marketing tool.

AR/augmented reality - VR/virtual reality - enterprise mobile - smart glasses
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Decades ago, marketers couldn’t fathom the ability to project an artificial projection of Bill Gates at a conference to interact with attendees in real-time. Fast forward to 2018, and millennials and Gen Z alike will be able to harness to power of holograms and augmented reality to make technology interaction more natural and accessible for all ages. Although holograms have been deployed for a few years, they have generally exclusively been used in the music space.

Advanced technology is allowing holograms and augmented reality to disrupt industries across the board. I turned to Brian Friedman, Vice President of Digital Innovation at events management software giant Aventri to give us insight on how marketers can prepare for holograms to disrupt their industry and understand just how impactful this futuristic method of content consumption be in the enterprise marketing space in years to come.

A more intimate way to connect with customers

If you’re reading this thinking that holograms most likely won’t disrupt your industry, think again. Holograms are anticipated to disrupt any industry where there are face-to-face interactions exist between people. “This includes retail stores, restaurants, airports and even hospitals,” explains Friedman. For example, doctors will be able to talk with their patients and their families remotely, and customers at stores will be able to talk directly with holographic staff who can answer their questions or check them out of the store. Hospitality is ripe for holograms to disrupt the industry, and it’s only a matter of time until you can expect to run into at least one hologram during your daily activities.

Holograms will also allow brands will have the ability to personalize experiences for each consumer and deliver visual information in a variety of ways. Friedman was recently at an event where BMW featured their new i8, the newest addition to their luxury line. “Attendees were able to see technical stats such as airflow and engine performance by holding up their smartphone over the car body,” says Friedman. Holograms will become a major channel for brands to layer relevant information over physical products.

As holograms become more affordable, speakers will be able to deliver speeches to large crowds in a more intimate fashion. When it comes to speakers at live events, the future is holograms. At conferences, lunch and learns, and global summits alike, holographic speakers will be able to walk around the stage and interact with the crowd. They will also be able to provide an elevated experience where they display additional holographic presentations from their hands or right in front of them.

How “real” are holograms?

Say you’re sitting at an event, and a holographic Elon Musk appears out of thin air on the stage in front of you. Holographic technology and imagery will make it difficult for you to tell whether or not the hologram is the living, breathing Elon Musk versus a hologram. Holograms will become more realistic as projection technology supports brighter output with higher frame rates and are expected to support higher contrast imagery in the next three to five years.

“The only difference between holograms and actual presenters will be the physical touch,” notes Friedman. Attendees will not be able to shake hands with the holograms or have them sign an autograph, but attendees will become used to hologram speakers, and the content platform will support many more opportunities for interactive content.

Holograms are the next step to merging the physical and digital worlds as one. Microsoft’s HoloLens is another example of how holographic technology is changing the way consumers and marketers connect.

“Being able to combine physical digital worlds into a single medium makes it possible to build experiences where people, places, and things become independent of the physical location and can interact with their digital counterparts,” Alex Kipman, a chief technical fellow in Microsoft’s operating group writes in a post.

The future of experiential marketing

The rise of holograms and augmented reality have left some fearful that these artificial displays will eventually completely replace the need for living, breathing people. “The reality is that holographs and AR will both present new levels of content delivery and input from consumers,” says Friedman. Advertisers will have more opportunities for sponsored content, and new levels of experiences will be accessed by different levels of consumers.

For example, in preparation for Steven Spielberg's movie Ready Player One, a movie about a future where citizens escape their desolate world by living a second life in an augmented world, an interactive experience was developed to give fans a unique experience prior to the premiere of the movie. Set in a two-story warehouse at the SXSW Conference in Austin, TX, users were able to customize their own player and enter an augmented world by wearing an Oculus Rift headset.

"Ready Player One has inspired both the current and future state of the VR industry and Vive is in a unique position to deliver on the promise of VR today," said Joel Breton, GM of Vive Studios.

Over the next five years, Gen Z will become used to holograms and AR, leading to an increased investment into content by brands. Marketers should be excited to embrace this new form of content consumptions; this is just the beginning.

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