Why “Holoport” People To A Screen When There’s A Physical Back Door?

February 8, 2023 by Dave Haynes

There are always some specialty display manufacturers at pro AV trade shows – like last week’s Integrated Systems Europe – demo’ing some version of transparent LCDs with finished enclosures that allow for putting product inside – making the LCD screen an overlay that can do things like pricing and promotional messaging related to the product.

Now there’s a Chinese manufacturer- EKAA – selling a finished version that mimics the shower stall, hologram-ish transparent LCDs marketed by LA-based Proto (formerly PORTL) and a growing count of other companies that were, ummm, “inspired” by Proto.

The screwball twist here is that instead of white or green screen lighting and camera work enabling a person to suddenly appear in these units, the 86-inch EKAA unit has a back door.

I am not making this up … This Linkedin post shows a video.

This product is actually a good explainer/reminder of what these units really are, versus some of the marketing hype whipped up about them using terms like holographic. Transparent LCD displays and enclosures have been around for probably 15 years now, and like almost all technology, it has matured and improved. I’ve transparent LCDs used as beer coolers and in some grocery to attract shoppers.

What these new companies are doing is applying some clever lighting and capture techniques to create shadows and a sense of depth to the person or object that then appears on the screen. But there’s no actual depth, which would get it into the realm of holographics and holograms. (Explainer here with an expert.) Companies like Proto have also done custom enclosures – as opposed to product off a production line – to get the lighting brightness they need, as well as add things like cameras and speakers.

We’re also starting to see companies marketing something akin to video wall versions, with numerous stalls tiled side by side, and content moving between them. It’s interesting, but a bit disjointed and almost certainly quite costly.

In the case of this product from EKAA, getting people to appear inside one of these is easy. Just walk in the rear door. I hope there are air holes …


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