What Are the Applications for 3D Holographic Display Tech?

This is part three of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. Find part one here and part two here.

You’re in conference calls with partners and coworkers multiple times a day, day after day, week after week. Naturally, you can imagine 2D video meetings have gotten a little old and unimaginative.

ARHT Media and Almo Professional A/V have joined forces. The new partnership brings Holographic TelePresence technology and a new platform for it called the Virtual Global Stage. In case you have not heard, this exciting solution is coming soon to a virtual stage design near you.

While COVID-19 was completely unexpected, we now know a lot more about how work, UCC (unified communications and collaboration) and meeting culture will change. Acting upon this new knowledge now is totally in your power.

ARHT Media’s Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed exclusively in the U.S. through Almo Professional A/V, could pay off big and change how your customers see virtual and hybrid meetings.

Image Source: Imperial College

What Is Holographic TelePresence and Who Is It For?

Previously, we talked about why now is the perfect time for holographic telepresence technology. Then, we dug a little deeper to understand how the technology works.  (distinguishing ARHT’s HumaGram technology from actual “holograms”). Below, you will learn about the applications for holographic technology.

What is hologram technology used for? Here are a few applications for which Holographic TelePresence is a perfect fit:

Higher education. Yes, we can do our virtual teaching through video conferencing platforms. But with more than a few people on each session, the personal feel you’re yearning for pretty much vanishes. Classrooms are an ideal place for interactive holographic displays. Why? Because holograms prove particularly useful where a connection is valued.

In the classroom, there’s great importance in seeing facial expressions, storytelling through body language, reading the room before moving onto the next lesson. As great as it is to have Zoom and Teams for digital learning, truly connecting on a 2D platform is tough. Add holography, and picture the wildly enriched lectures and engaging experiences.

Corporate and UCC spaces. The second application to consider as a use case for Holographic TelePresence is corporate. Holographic TelePresence takes the idea of a virtual meeting and infuses it with new energy and possibilities.

While, for now, we see holographic display images used by the C-Suite, widespread use is very possible. In corporate environments, remote or otherwise, ARHT’s technology breaks down the limitations of 2D. Hologram tech in a virtual environment creates an interactive experience that benefits viewers and hologram presenters alike.

Live events, meetings and conferences. Live event programming, while fun and valuable, costs a fortune. Highly desired speakers only have so much time and availability. Consider the possibilities if, suddenly, neither travel nor a large venue were needed. That alone is enough to make an event planner smile.

How great would it be to virtually stage a room and have world-class speakers (think religious leaders, CEOs, politicians, celebrities) at virtual events if the in-person feel was maintained? Booking speakers virtually (who can “beam in” from their remote setup instead of getting on a plane) saves time and finances — plus, it greatly lessens the environmental impact. Through Holographic TelePresence, it’s as though hologram presenters are on stage next to each other.

A Visual Edge and an Emotional Draw: Now Is The Time for 3D Holographic Display Tech

Especially lately, high-status speakers like celebrities are in high demand. But does a 2D video appearance create the connection that an in-person one would? No.

3D hologram meetings and hologram teleconferences deliver a more lifelike presentation and create a bigger emotional draw. In an interview with Inavate Magazine, ARHT Media CEO Larry O’Reilly highlighted an example from December 2018 with “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa.

“He was rehearsing for Saturday Night Live [in New York City],” said O’Reilly. “On Thursday night, he just went to a different studio at 30 Rock, and we beamed him into Mexico City for fan engagement and media events at the IMAX theatre there. The next night, we beamed him into Comic-Con Brazil, where he addressed over 3,000 people live.”

Through its Virtual Global Stage, ARHT leverages the proprietary transmission software that powers its HoloPresence (or “holographic presence”) platform to “beam” multiple presenters into a virtual, online environment. Human holograms then appear in lifesize proportions and can interact with audience members (and the other panelists) virtually.

Hologram solutions are beyond what your customer even knows.

Are Hologram Events a Trend or Long-Term Solution?

Big names are already using Telegraphic HoloPresence — like actor Jon Hamm, Santa Claus, the inventor of basketball and even the Crown Prince of Dubai. (By the way, all those names are impressive, but we know we had you at Jon Hamm.)

Some may claim that hologram media is a trend — or they’ll say it’s just emerging — but we know otherwise. The benefits of an enhanced teaching presence, a cutting-edge guest appearance or a town hall that doesn’t put you to sleep are massive. We’ve heard people say that futuristic solutions like human hologram technology are just a solution just looking for a problem. COVID-19 has changed this reality.

For more information, visit www.almoproav.com/holographic-telepresence, and get in touch with your Almo regional service development manager today.

Wait, What Is Holographic TelePresence Technology Again?

This is part two of a three-part blog series on ARHT Media’s new Holographic TelePresence technology, distributed in the U.S. exclusively through Almo Professional A/V. You can find part one here.

Providers like Zoom have done an amazing job supporting the new remote world this year. But if you’re now video conferencing all day, you may be “Zoomed out” from all the video calls. I know I am.

What seems like endless video conferences, webinars, and virtual meetings has been, well, fine. And necessary during this cultural shift in work and meetings. But we can only thrive so long on standard 2D video conferencing.

In remote and virtual settings, 2D video conferencing only scratches the surface of what is possible.

In part one of this three-part blog series, we gave you the scoop on something new and exciting that could change video meetings and virtual events. That something is called Holographic TelePresence, and it’s a solution from ARHT Media that brings lifelike, interactive holographic display content to your event, room or computer screen. Holographic TelePresences creates a unique and highly engaging experience like no other.

To add to the excitement, ARHT’s new Virtual Global Stage (VGS)platform is a premium, digital experience. It offers the look and feel of a professional broadcast but streamed online. Through the Virtual Global Stage, presenters, panelists and lecturers around the world can participate from wherever they can access a capture studio.

Imagine the possibilities when you eliminate the need for a huge venue, expensive travel, and the physical gathering of attendees.

Unlike AR and VR, No Headset Is Needed With Holographic TelePresence

Do you know how hologram technology works? Below, we explain how ARHT Media does it.

Using proprietary technology, capture studios, and standard projection equipment, Holographic TelePresence “beams” presenters into one or multiple venues simultaneously. You may also hear the technology referred to as HoloPresence, short for “holographic presence.” Presenters can be located anywhere in the world — they just need the equipment and access to the platform via the web. Along with a new hologram presentation platform known as the Virtual Global Stage, Holographic TelePresence enables hybrid events — with some participants attending remotely and some attending live.

In other words, ARHT’s hologram events can run with all-remote participants/presenters, or with some live and some remote participants/presenters. Attendees and speakers choose how they participate — remotely or face to face — which empowers choice and flexibility. The value is that events can reach their largest possible audience. Organizations can also deliver a premium experience that goes well beyond the 2D video call.

To explain how Holographic TelePresence works, we’ll distinguish it from holograms, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

  • Holographic TelePresence vs. Holograms: There is a distinction to be made between true holograms — 3D images produced in mid-air — and Holographic TelePresence. The “ARHT” (pronounced “art”) in ARHT Media stands for Augmented Reality Holographic Technology. It turns out that ARHT’s solution is not exactly equatable to a hologram, even though the final result appears as one. (Quick note: we will refer to the imagery produced by ARHT’s technology as “holograms;” just know we’re using that term as a general understanding of the final result — lifelike images that appear to the audience as holograms. We’re doing that for simplicity’s sake, not specifically to annoy the technology purists out there.)

  • Holographic TelePresence vs. AR and VR: How does ARHT’s solution differ from other new hologram technology, virtual reality and augmented reality? VR blocks out your ability to see and hear the real world — usually through a VR headset. AR uses a computer and, sometimes, a special headset or glasses to create digital objects and overlay them onto what you see in our physical world. Are you familiar with Pokémon GO? That’s also augmented reality.

Holographic TelePresence is a projection that uses an illusion effect powered by ARHT’s “HumaGram” technology. ARHT’s technique is more sophisticated than others you may know, like Pepper’s Ghost. Contrasting AR and VR to Holographic TelePresence, ARHT’s solution is neither augmented reality nor virtual reality alone. Holographic AR is steps beyond — no headset or special glasses needed.

With these distinctions and a new understanding, we’re ready to reveal the minimal equipment it takes to deploy ARHT’s hologram technology in any space.

Debunking the Technology

To virtually stage a room, Holographic TelePresence requires a more precise setup than video conferencing or a remote presentation system, but the concept and necessary equipment are pretty straightforward. ARHT’s setup is a combination of video shot in front of a backdrop, then projected on stage (or “on stage,” if being done virtually) onto a screen. So, the production needs a screen, as well as controlled lighting, to ensure the projection is bright and visible.

In an article with Inavate Magazine, Andrew Parry, an online learning video producer at Imperial College Business School, explained further. Elements to consider include the capture space (plus, distance between camera and subject), the height/positioning of the camera, and lighting. In the case of Imperial College’s virtual stage design, Parry explained, lights placed behind the subject backlit everything, including shoes. He added that there were also two lights arranged in front of the subject to improve the lighting of the human hologram on the other end.

Factors such as lighting and camera angle ensure that the final result — holographic display images on the screen — is an accurate representation in terms of body shape and dimensions. Thankfully, the AV industry is quite familiar with the principles of projection, making the execution of this technology, once learned, quite straightforward.

Below, you’ll see some behind-the-scenes photos of the setup in a recent hologram teleconference held live with ARHT’s hologram tech. In the interview, rAVe [PUBS] founder Gary Kayye (beaming in from North Carolina) and Almo’s Sam Taylor (beaming in from Maryland) are using ARHT’s Virtual Global Stage. To the audience, the two appeared virtually on the same “stage” with no editing, and no latency lag, having a real-time conversation about the emerging interactive hologram technology.

Will Hologram Technology Change Business in 2020?

While holograms have gotten plenty of attention in the media these past few years, many could be asking if this is just a trend. Will on-stage holograms like ARHT Media’s become big business? What can we expect from hologram technology in the future?

We believe any industry — higher education, live events, advertising and entertainment, healthcare, corporate spaces, meeting spaces, you name it — will benefit from 3D holographic display technology.

Get in touch with Almo today for more information, and visit www.almoproav.com/holographic-telepresence to find your regional service development manager.

Esports: Mom Lied When She Said I’d Never Make Money Playing Halo

Us millennials sure love to ruin everything, don’t we? First we came in with participation trophies, we moved on to tank the economy, and now we have come for sports!

*Queue diabolical laughter*

According to this Reuter’s article, global esports revenues will rise above one billion dollars by the end of 2019. Yes, that’s a billion with a “B” and that represents an annual increase of 27 percent. While it still may not be advisable to raise your children to be an esports athlete; the industry is growing at an exceptional rate. As it turns out, fun has turned into serious business.

Similarly to millions of other kids growing up, I would come home from school sit down and turn on my Xbox to play Halo 2. In my early teens, I would stay up all night playing competitive online tournaments on the weekends and during summers. The advent of online gaming in the late 90s and early 2000s exposed millions of people just like me to competitive gaming. I remember being ecstatic in a car ride home having won a full year of Xbox live at a local game store. As a pre-teen saving $60 was enough to make me feel like the greatest player of all time. Meanwhile, this year in July a sixteen year old made over $3 million winning an online tournament for the smash hit Fortnite.

There seems to be a rather noticeable generational divide when it comes to esports. The majority of US viewership ranges between the ages of 18 and 34. Just like when my grandparents told me that the iPhone would never take off because “who needs a camera in their pocket?” this trend is not necessarily intuitive but inevitable. Just as civilizations have moved away from blood sports like the Mesoamerican ball game, or the roman gladiatorial events, people are moving away more and more from what we see as traditional sports.

But why would anyone want to watch other people play video games? This question is echoed across the internet in message boards and on popular television shows. Just as a fifteen-year-old may not understand the nuances of play calling in an NFL game, my dad certainly has no clue about the nuances of sideboarding in a competitive Magic the Gathering (or MTG) event. My true esports love is watching competitive MTG because I can watch and see how the pros navigate complex game states. It is akin to getting free advice on how to improve your swing from Tiger Woods when you sit down and watch Luis Scott Vargas play matches on Twitch. Critically, esports has two advantages that traditional sports will never be able to touch—evolution and variety.

Every year Activision releases a new Call of Duty, Epic Games constantly introduces new weapons and cosmetics into Fortnite, Wizards of the Coast add new cards to MTG, Blizzard adds new characters to Overwatch, and Valve introduces new heroes into Dota 2. In order to keep gamers invested in their games, these companies constantly pump out updates to their game that introduce new cosmetic and gameplay experiences. If you are a consumer, you can simply watch the pros play the new content to verify if it looks like something you are interested in.

But variety is the spice of life. When our marketing team approached me, my brain immediately went to a few specific places. My instant reaction was to talk about first person shooters and collectible card games. While many friends of mine jump to talk about real time strategy games, sports games, fighting games, and mobas (multiplayer online battle arenas). You will never catch me watching the DOTA International, but I anticipate watching MPL Weekly. And that is the piece of the puzzle that is missing in the minds of people that are not already invested in the esports ecosystem. Regardless of the kind of “gamer” you are, there is an esports league with compelling content for you.

At the end of the day, regardless of whatever preconceived notions that you have about esports; you would be wise to not ignore this industry. Parents in the 80s that bought Atari and Nintendo for their kids probably never dreamed that the gaming industry would grow to a multi-billion-dollar global industry.  Don’t be caught behind the curve thinking that esports will never be as big as traditional sports.

Game on!

5 Reasons to Invest in Training

Whether you are the owner of a small AV integration firm or a manager at a large national integrator chances are you are faced with the same struggle of finding the time to attend training for yourself or send your employees for training.   Often this can be costly and time consuming however the benefits of a highly trained workforce will almost always outweigh the short term costs.  Here are five reasons you should consider training for yourself or for your staff:


Staying on Top of the Latest Technology Trends

I think we can all agree that like many industries the world of commercial AV technology is constantly changing and evolving, not only with the technology itself, but with the needs of our customers.   A recent example of this has been the explosive growth in “huddle spaces” within corporations, and the technology advancements developed to meet these needs.   If you are not aware of the latest trends and equipped to handle them you will likely find yourself losing business to competitors.


Enhance Customer Service

Think about a time when you were interested in making a purchase, any type of purchase, it doesn’t have to be technology, and you felt your sales person was not educated about the product. How did that make you feel about that company? Your customers will always get better service from a well-trained employee, whether it is your sales person, project manager or installation technician.


Keep Your Certifications Current

While there are many certifications in our industry, the most common and well recognized is infoComm’s CTS. The CTS, CTS-I, and CTS-D are important designations and require a significant amount of time and effort to achieve. Any CTS holder understands the importance of continuing education and obtaining CTS RU’s in order to maintain their certification. RU’s can be obtained in a variety of different methods including live classroom training, various trade events like Almo’s E4 AV Tour, and webinars.


Less Supervision

As an owner or manager you are faced with the difficult challenge of running your business and managing employees often while being involved in work that could be handled by properly trained employees freeing you up for other tasks. Well trained employees will be able to work more independently without the need for constant guidance, and will help your staff be more confident and satisfied in their job.


Reduce Employee Turnover

Hiring new employees can be time consuming, expensive, and involve risk if the right hire is not made. Providing training opportunities for your employees shows them your interest in advancing their professional skills and will enhance company loyalty and increased employee contributions to your business. Often, employees thrive on knowing they are a key contributor to their company as much as they enjoy monetary compensation.

Almo’s E4 AV Tour has stops in New York on September 19th and in California on October 3rd , and in addition to an exhibit of the newest technology from over 35 top manufacturers, attendees will have the ability to earn InfoComm CTS RU’s throughout the day via classroom training.

Direct vs. AV Distribution: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Benefits of AV Distribution

“Oh, so you’re the middle man.” With implications of inflated costs and unnecessary complexity, this was the disparaging response from an old acquaintance while catching up after a time apart. Putting aside Almo’s “value add” let’s look at the real financial implications of sourcing equipment; considering both the hard- and soft-dollar costs of a purchase order. Hard-dollars are the unit cost of the equipment and freight. Soft-dollar expenses associated with purchase orders include:

  • The time spent getting quotes.
  • Receiving shipments (and associated work interruptions).
  • Reconciling packing lists.
  • Cutting checks.
  • Balancing the checking account.
  • The process of managing cash-flow.
  • Coordinating returns with vendors.
  • Warehousing and staging equipment until all items have arrived for a project.

Each of these soft dollar items has a direct cost in wages along with an opportunity cost from lost employee productivity. There are numerous studies available on the Internet discussing the costs of issuing a purchase order. Some studies show a range of $35.88 for automated purchase orders to $741 for some manual POs. To find your cost per PO, add up the time spent each week on all of the above activities and divide by the total number of purchase orders.

The following tables compare streamlined purchasing of equipment for a modest project through buying direct from manufacturers versus the same purchase from a distributor. These scenarios reflect actual prices of commonly used equipment. The soft-dollar average of $75 reflects the low-end of actual cost per PO as communicated by our commercial integrator clients. The manufacturer names and model numbers are masked to protect integrators and resellers from this information reaching the end user.


Scenario 1) Single Source from an AV Distributor

Qty Manufacturer Description Unit $ Ext $
1 Manufacture A Controller / switcher / amp $3,710.00 $3,710.00
1 Manufacture A 7” touch panel $2,340.00 $2,340.00
1 Manufacturer C Ceiling Mounting Plate for Projector $31.33 $31.33
1 Manufacturer D Projection screen $1,286.76 $1,286.76
4 Manufacturer F Remote Sequenced Power Conditioner $124.97 $499.88
1 Manufacturer F Rackmount Power Conditioner / Sequencer $343.72 $343.72
1 Manufacturer P Projector $2,474.73 $2,474.73
2 Manufacturer P Wall Mount for Displays $200.00 $400.00
1 Manufacturer P Ceiling mount bracket for high ceilings $823.08 $823.08
1 Manufacturer P Bracket assembly $274.73 $274.73
2 Manufacturer P 50” Display $839.78 $1,679.56
3 Manufacturer Q Ceiling Speakers (Pair) $214.76 $644.28
Sub Total: $14,508.07
Freight: $500
“Hard Dollar” Total: $15,008.07
1 Purchase Order (Soft Dollar Average) $75.00 $75.00
Total: $15,083.07

In order to provide a conservative estimate of savings: shipping is calculated to Lebanon, KS – the geographic center of the Continental US. Assumed origination point is a warehouse in Pennsylvania, even though closer options are available. This maximizes the distributor shipping cost in this example.

Scenario 2) Multi-source from Individual Manufacturers

Qty Manufacturer Description Unit $ Ext $
1 Manufacture A Controller / switcher / amp $3,710.00 $3,710.00
1 Manufacture A 7” touch panel $2,340.00 $2,340.00
Manufacturer A Freight: $75.00
1 Manufacturer C Ceiling Mounting Plate for Projector $31.33 $31.33
Manufacturer C Freight: $12.00
1 Manufacturer D Projection screen $1,286.76 $1,286.76
Manufacturer D Freight: $200.00
4 Manufacturer F Remote Sequenced Power Conditioner $124.97 $499.88
1 Manufacturer F Rackmount Power Conditioner / Sequencer $343.72 $343.72
Manufacturer F Freight: $28.00
1 Manufacturer P Projector $2,474.73 $2,474.73
2 Manufacturer P Wall Mount for Displays $200.00 $400.00
1 Manufacturer P Ceiling mount bracket for high ceilings $823.08 $823.08
1 Manufacturer P Bracket assembly $274.73 $274.73
2 Manufacturer P 50” Display $839.78 $1,679.56
Manufacturer P Freight: $280.00
3 Manufacturer Q Ceiling Speakers (Pair) $214.76 $644.28
Manufacturer Q Freight: $85.00
Equipment Total $14,508.07
Freight: $680.00
“Hard Dollar” Total: $15,188.07
7 Purchase Orders (Soft Dollar Average) $75.00 $525.00
Total: $15,713.07

Improving the Margins of Error on Your AV:

What would an additional margin of 1 to 4% do for your business? The above comparison favors using a distributor due to a 4.1% lower cost. This assumes per-unit costs are the same for purchasing direct and from a distributor. In some situations, not all, the per-unit cost for an item may be as much as 3% lower by purchasing direct. Running the above comparison with a 3% discount across all products for direct purchases brings the equipment total down $14,072.83 with a new total of $15,277.83. This is still a 1.3% savings by using a distributor. For the sake of brevity, these scenarios do not include every item necessary for a complete system. If we add in racks, cables, and all the other necessary elements for a complete system, the comparable savings would only increase. Additionally, in order to provide an “apples-to-apples”, the mount manufacturer specified above is constrained to the same manufacturer as the display and projector. However, over 80% of display and projector mounts are not supplied by display or projector manufacturers. As such, real world savings will be greater as more manufacturers are added to the mix.

But Wait, There’s More:

The reduced opportunity cost of streamlined purchasing can also result in productivity gains. This has the greatest implications for smaller firms where most people juggle multiple responsibilities. How long does it take a design engineer or sales person to regain full focus on a project after multiple interruptions by UPS, FedEx, and other freight deliveries for a single project? How much time is spent gathering quotes from multiple vendors only to find any potential savings diluted through increased shipping costs? How many “to-do” items are aging on your list and how would your business grow if more of them were completed? Regaining otherwise lost productivity through streamlined purchasing may allow for faster project completion, additional bid responses, selling more jobs, and greater efficiencies in general.

There may be circumstances where purchasing directly from a manufacturer may save a few dollars – perhaps with a single-item box sale. When considering some distributors also provide equipment staging, simplified communication with manufacturers, more flexible credit terms, technical expertise, and education; the benefits extend beyond streamlined purchasing. If you have not looked into utilizing the services of a distributor lately, you may be leaving money on the table.

Springing Forward on the 2017 Spring E4 AV Tour

A Behind-the-Scenes Interview with Gary Bailer, Director of Product Management, Sharp

Ahh, spring is definitely in the air! The snow is melting, the birds are singing, we’ve changed the clocks and have more afternoon daylight…oh, and the Almo E4 AV Tour is on the road!

Each year, the tour visits two cities in the spring and two cities in the fall. In March, we stopped to spend the day with a record number – MORE than 500! — of attendees in Chicago.

The tour moves on to San Jose April 19.


Post your experience in the comments section of this post and earn a $5 Starbucks Gift Card!

Months and months and MONTHS of planning goes into preparing for an E4! And it’s not just Almo working around the clock to make it happen. Our manufacturing partners take an ENORMOUS amount of time planning which products they will showcase in their booths and what they’d like to discuss with attendees on the exhibit floor. For the spring E4s in particular, our exhibitors oftentimes show products that were previewed at ISE and DSE or “sneak peek” those that are launching at InfoComm in June!

Did you know that SHARP has been on EVERY stop of the E4 AV Tour since it began in 2009! So this will be the 30th time that Sharp has gone through this process with Almo Pro A/V!

Recently, I put on my “investigative reporting” hat and had a chat with Gary Bailer, Director of Product Management for Sharp:



What do you like best about Almo’s E4 AV Tour?

Hands down, E4 is the BEST networking event for the commercial AV community. It has all the benefits of a full-fledged tradeshow but in an environment that lends itself to more in-depth discussions and relationship-building. Almo puts on a first-class event — each one has been better than the one before!



Is Sharp showing any new products?

Yes! We are showing the brand NEW PN-C705B AQUOS BOARD interactive display with Direct Bonding technology. This product is currently available and shipping! It is a 70- or 80-inch value-priced display that is made for schools and businesses. E4 attendees absolutely have to come by to take a look at it. We introduced this product in January.



Any new initiatives from Sharp that we should know about?

Our NEW PN-L401C Capacitive Touch Huddle Display with Mini OPS Expandability (cards that allow the panel to be more versatile) will be shown in San Jose. This product is 100 percent AQUOS BOARD in that it’s an interactive display — it can be used in either landscape, portrait or face-up orientation — and allows for wireless collaboration, annotation, screen sharing (wirelessly) and whiteboarding.



Will you have any booth contests or prizes?

Yes!  We’ve invited a local artist to use the Sharp PN-C705B AQUOS BOARD® Interactive Display to draw caricatures of visitors to the booth.




What’s your advice for those attending an E4 event?

Absolutely make time for this one-day event! The contacts you will make, the technology you will have exposure to, and the courses and workshops you will take are going to be invaluable to your business.

We are taking a lot of photos and videos from the Sharp booth during the spring E4 tour.  My next post will reveal some of these moments. We look forward to seeing you in San Jose!

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