Toronto Mega-Mall Uses PORTL’s Hologram-ish Displays To Run Virtual Fashion Shows Through Holiday Season

December 3, 2021 by Dave Haynes

(Image: Dustin Fuhs)

An “activation” that’s somewhere between interesting and gimmick-y used one of PORTL’s transparent LCD set-ups to do a virtualized fashion show at one of Canada’s biggest shopping malls, starting this week and running through the holiday season.

The retail property owner Cadillac Fairview has one of the shower-stall like set-ups in the vast atrium space of Toronto Eaton Centre, a big urban shopping mall in the city’s central business district. A live host describes the outfits and whatever else is talked up at fashion shows, while the models are somewhere else, gesturing and responding to cues from the host in front of an off-site chromakey/green screen set-up. There is also a white screen nearby, but that was mainly for showing how it works.

PORTL’s tech is described as a hologram, but is a transparent LCD with a flat image, with really good use of lighting and shadows.  PORTL’s founder concedes it is not a hologram, but says the tech needs some sort of descriptive term people can grasp. Come see a hologram sounds a lot more exciting than come see a transparent LCD.

I like a lot of what PORTL does – particularly in situations that has the tech enabling a speaker for a conference or other event to virtually appear on site, in life-size. This one is more eye candy than practical. It would also likely set up and tear down a lot faster than a temporary runway with a backdrop, lighting and everything else needed to do a live, in-person fashion show.

In certain respects, the more interesting application being done here is elsewhere in the big mall. If you review this story in Retail Insider, you will see there are two more PORTL units embedded in the hoarding of empty store spaces, with a QR code that can be scanned and a items then launched on demand on the screens. I assume the PC running the screen acts as a hyperlocal server that throws controls to a phone, to let a viewer then select an outfit to check out on the screen.

A local company called Mouse 3D Digital is working with PORTL on projects around Toronto, and has one of the units in an LCBO store (Ontario-run wine and spirits store) that has a bartender mixing up drinks with 18-year-old Johnny Walker Black (I’d just do an ice cube with 18-year-old Johnny Black). That’s also more than a bit of a gimmick, but would certainly draw the eyes of shoppers – which is the point.

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