Digital Signage

Virtual Presenters Get Smarter

This virtual presenter can be customized in appearance and programmed to speak a desired language.

Virtual presenter (VP) systems now feature data analytics to deliver targeted messages to customers and enhance the company’s product or service offerings based on customer feedback. The projection of life-sized animations onto mannequins or other surfaces is not new, but when coupled with data analytics, an intelligent VP offers opportunities beyond the wow factor and the ability to engage viewers. It can provide brands and companies with valuable information about consumer behavior, and the data can be useful in shaping business strategy. These systems also provide a lens into the future of human-machine interaction.

“Human holograms” appeared several years ago at trade shows and entertainment venues. Over the years, you may have become familiar with Casio’s Virtual Assistant powered by a Casio lamp-free, ultra-short-throw projector. During the past couple of years, intelligent VPs have been displayed more frequently, especially at retail and tech conventions. Last year, Casio’s Virtual Assistant helped out at five airports.

However, widespread adoption has been slow, perhaps due to the patent-pending and proprietary nature of these systems, as well as the costs for programming and customization. Furthering the presence of virtual presenters, developers have partnered with potential customers, such as major brands and retail stores, for short campaigns. For example, ARHT Media partnered with Harry Rosen, a Canadian retail chain, to display a human hologram named “Vincent” during the 2014 holiday shopping season.

Interest in the potential of virtual presenters is once again gaining momentum. Earlier this year, Ricoh unveiled the Ricoh Virtual Self-Service Hologram, developed with technology from its partner, PRSONAS, a North Carolina developer of interactive holograms. To better understand the unique aspects of this solution and partnership, I spoke with Charlie Vidal, Director of Product Marketing for Ricoh USA.

PRSONAS exhibited its intelligent virtual presenter last year in partnership with other companies. Is the Ricoh partnership with PRSONAS purely a marketing venture?
Vidal: It is more than a marketing venture. Ricoh will work with customers on the deployment of the solution, customizing the backend so the company or brand gets the user information it needs to make strategic business decisions. All virtual presenter units come with a built-in analytics portal, which can collect highly valuable analytics on customer interactions and preferences, information typically only available in the online world. We will also provide ongoing system support, like we currently do for the other programs used by our Global 500 customers. Ricoh’s services division will handle onsite product installation, setup, training and break/fix support, plus Tier 1 and 2 tech support services.

What is Ricoh leveraging in this system solution?
Vidal: Customization is key in this solution. The Ricoh Virtual Self-Service Hologram can be customized in appearance from a wide range of computer-generated or other images, and can be programmed to speak a desired language, including American Sign Language.

More often than not, companies have a difficult time measuring how customers are…

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