Walk into ARHT Media’s Toronto studio and you might think you’ve entered the holodeck from Star Trek.

That’s because this fledgling firm is out to achieve a very Sci-Fi goal. The most realistic, convincing, and believable human holograms on the planet. They’re called “Humagrams.” It plans to create them with this; Augmented Reality Holographic Technology.

How does it work? Founder and CEO Paul Duffy explains.

“The platform itself has a holographic plane synchronized with a rear plane that we can put lighting and special effects around such that the entire viewing experience is a 3D-rendered image. So you would look actually as if you were there in person,” he says.

On the live performance side, ARHT is already working with some big names. In June, Tony Robbins performed as a Humagram in front of a Melbourne, Australia audience even though he was performing in a Miami-based studio. Eventually, a performer could use this technique to perform live in several venues at once.

It’s more than a one-way experience. ARHT Media also collects feedback from the viewer. Based on that a live performer can react to their audience, or a sophisticated retail kiosk can trigger a more engaging sequence to draw you in.

Like the kiosk that Ticketmaster currently has set up in Winnipeg’s MTS Centre. Or the window display Harry Rosen used in Toronto’s Yorkville mall in December.

Using Microsoft’s Kinect camera and other sensors, these displays can count the number of people that interact with them. And the initial results look pretty strong.

“We literally measured 110,000 people walking by this window display. The interesting part was about 31,000 people stopped, turned, and engaged with the humagram. So as an early indicator of the engagment power and influence of a humagram, we felt very vindicated,” Duffy says. “We felt fairly certain we’d get  high engagement with the platform but we didn’t realize we’d get one in three or one in four.”

For retailers, analytics are built right into the platform so they can see how many people are engaging, whether they’re male or female, or young or old. They can also see if a coupon offered up led to a purchase. That’s also key to ARHT’s business model.

Rather than sell retailers a kiosk or an event the stage setup, ARHT installs it for free. Then it takes a cut of the sales made on tickets or as a result of kiosk engagement. Duffy says he’s still negotiating the exact percentage with clients.

After its pilot projects with some key clients, ARHT Media expects to see Humgrams expanding widely over the next year. So don’t be surprised if the next time you walk past someone in a mall, you do a double take and realize they’re just a hologram.

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