How holograms will shake up the PR industry

Three-dimensional projections are no longer a wish for the future. Soon, CEOs and reporters could be beaming into meetings and press conferences. Here’s what to expect.

I recently wrote about holoportation.

It might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Remember in “Star Wars” (the original one from the ’80s) when Princess Leia delivers a message to Obi Wan Kenobi via hologram? That’s what I’m talking about, except far more advanced—and real!

Imagine being able to attend Thanksgiving dinner with your family members who live 2,000 miles away, but from the comfort of your home.

You wouldn’t have to deal with the holiday rush at the airport, amateur travelers or people asking TSA agents if they have to take off their shoes.

If you wanted to leave dinner before Uncle Rich got drunk and started talking politics, all you’d have to do is turn off your headset. You wouldn’t have to dodge guilty looks from your mom, or Aunt Theresa trying to shove more food down your throat.

Of course, attending via hologram also means no leftovers, but there have to be some sacrifices in the name of convenience.

The technology is ready, and it’s quickly becoming accessible to companies.

CEOs attend town halls via hologram

The Washington Post recently reported that Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, went to a studio in Paris and had his body beamed to Chicago via hologram for an employee town-hall meeting.

He didn’t have to deal with a seven-hour flight, jet lag or being out of town for a week or more. He wasn’t the only hologram attendee, either. Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s human resources chief, was beamed in from New York.

The executives’ three-dimensional holograms chatted with each other about the company’s new performance reviews and recent acquisitions, and they answered questions from the audience.

Accenture built seven studios around the globe for this kind of technology, which means the technology isn’t very accessible—yet.

Imagine the possibilities.

Nanterme’s holograms are not a first in the business and entertainment worlds. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers talked with two executives’ holograms at an event in India a few years ago.

The late rapper Tupac Shakur was virtually brought back to life at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2012 using technology from a company called Musion. Musion also played a role in a hologram of Hugh Jackman doing a news conference for the film “Chappie” last year.

Physicist Stephen Hawking made a virtual appearance at the Sydney Opera House last year.

Celebrities aren’t even attending their own news conferences in person anymore. This is cool.

What this means for the PR industry

Remember in the late 1990s and early 2000s when we would host editors at media events? (Sorry to those of you who are too young to remember this.)

One of my favorite events was when 32 food editors joined my team in Mississippi to learn about and eat farm-raised catfish and judge a celebrity-chef cooking competition. (This is also where I taught a certain up-and-coming celebrity chef, who shall remain nameless, that you don’t have to buy clarified butter.)

Now, imagine that you host the same kind of event, but the food editors don’t have to leave their offices.

They don’t have any expenses, and they aren’t gone for four days. They can attend your event and still be home for dinner with their families.

All it takes is a special headset (such as Oculus Rift) and a computer.

Or, say you couldn’t attend a conference because of a prescheduled appointment in the middle of the event.

Sure, conferences have recordings you can watch from the comfort of your desk, but what if you could attend “in person”? What if you could beam in and present at the conference as if you were there?

I imagine that, in the beginning, it will be a bit like people being beaming in via video conference to a computer set up on a robot that can move from room to room. (They’re called telepresence robots.)

You might have seen this in “The Good Wife.” When the characters got annoyed with the person on screen, they put a piece of paper over the screen:

The technology isn’t sophisticated yet, but it will improve. As the technology gets better, it will become more accessible.

Of course, nothing ever will beat an in-person experience, but we’re getting good at replicating it.

A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

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Topics: PR

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