Proto Secures U.S. Patent For Its Method Of Doing Hologram-ish Displays
September 13, 2022 by Dave Haynes
The LA start-up Proto now has a U.S. patent for its method of capturing people and subjects on a white screen and relaying that visual in real-time to a custom transparent LCD screen and enclosure, creating what I tend to describe as a hologram-ish visual experience.
The company, which has evolved its brand from PORTL, has been issued Patent no. US 11,428,952 (B2), which describes Proto as: “A holographic display device for presenting a hologram-like image…[providing] a realistic appearance. A unique image capturing system for capturing the image to be displayed on the transparent monitor is also disclosed. The image capturing system transmits the image to the holographic display device in real-time or as a pre-recorded image….”
The patent also notes Proto’s on-board cameras and speakers, making it self-contained and capable of telepresence.
There is no real depth to the visuals, so it’s not a hologram. But Proto has done a nice job of taking existing technology and packaging it up into a compelling product, with the secret sauces being how the captured subjects are lit and how the custom enclosures are edge-lit by LEDs, to make the visuals pop. Older transparent LCDs were always interesting but didn’t necessarily have enough lighting, leaving images muted. Until Proto/Portl came along, most of what the pro AV industry has seen with transparent LCD was screens on chiller doors in grocery and microwave-sized merchandising cases for things like shoes and purses.
Much of the attention to date for the company has been on the shower stall-sized display enclosure enabling virtual personal appearances by entertainment and sports stars, and for high profile speakers and politicians. The display gets parked on a stage while the person making the appearance can be eight time zones away, talking to a camera and captured in front of a white screen.
This is interesting because, as tends to happen, other companies have popped up with VERY similar products and propositions, like HereWeHolo in the Netherlands. I have also seen stuff from, to no one’s surprise, China. Proto suggests its product is three years ahead of the competition.
I dunno if having a patent will stop copycats, as patent infringement fights tend to eat start-up capital, but it can perhaps chill the efforts of competitors or make them go at product design a little differently. It also has marketing benefits – being able to tout a U.S. patent.
“Until now, you needed to be a late rapper or eccentric billionaire to beam somewhere as a hologram. I invented Proto so one day anyone can explore the world via real time holoportation,” says Proto CEO David Nussbaum. “Even though we’re already beaming people all over the world daily, getting this recognition, and protection, from the USPTO proves my dream has become real.”
The company says there are “well over 100 Proto units permanently deployed globally, and with a growing live events, production, and rental division.”