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The Future of Holoportation: William Shatner and Proto Demonstrate the Next Phase of "Beaming In" for Video Conferencing


“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.”

Even if you aren’t a certified Trekkie like myself (born and raised; even my brother was named Jonluke after Captain Jean-Luc Picard), chances are this quote will, at the very least, ring a familiar pop culture bell in your mind. It’s the famous first line of the highly acclaimed fictional series Star Trek. And the series’ continuing mission across the bevy of shows currently available to stream (e.g. The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery, Prodigy, Picard even, etc.) is to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new lives and new civilizations.

To boldly go where no one has gone before.

And now, in 2023, we need not wait until the year 2265 for a glimpse into the universe that Gene Roddenberry created, specifically with respect to the concept of transporters and futuristic hologram technology.

That’s thanks to the making-the-digital-real holoportation company, Proto.

Proto is a holographic communications platform with its own hardware, software, and app ecosystem. Proto has become known for its life-sized hologram device; one that’s realistic enough to make it seem more like there’s an actual person or object inside the seven-foot-tall machine itself. Provided it’s an actual person represented in a Proto machine, that live subject can then be “beamed” in real time from a camera or mobile phone to any Proto device, anywhere in the world. (Proto is even working on a brand-new desktop version, readying to launch it in Q4 of this year.)

So, back to our Star Trek + Proto connection.

Last week, Proto announced that none other than William Shatner – Captain James T. Kirk himself – had joined the company as an advisor. What’s more is that Shatner has already used the Proto technology himself. (That’s why this article’s photo isn’t some fan edit of Shatner appearing before an audience; it was him, “beamed” live to Sydney, Australia, in order to give a keynote on technological innovations and the state of our planet.)

“You’re there in Australia and I’m here, 7,500 miles away in Los Angeles,” Shatner said. “But thanks to Proto, we’re together.”

Shatner was able to see and hear the audience (and vice versa) at the Advertising Week APAC 2023 show. His real-time responses on the Great Minds stage proved memorable for those in attendance, as well as for Catherine Bowe, Client Council & Industry Trade Lead, Meta APAC, who was able to interview him. Bowe has since referred to this as “a true highlight of her career.”

Proto currently has offices on five continents, and the company was no stranger to this “beaming” before Shatner made his Proto debut in Sydney. Proto beamed loved ones in from around the world for an America’s Got Talent season finale, DJs for live Spotify music shows, Chris Pratt on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and other “beaming” instances, as well.

But for Shatner, this was a famous sci-fi captain essentially brought to life across the world. That really puts the “prosper” in “Live Long, and Prosper” for Star Trek fans and tech afficionados alike; if Proto is an indication of how our digital experiences may end up prospering in the years to come, it’s a good one.

So, will Proto’s hologram machine “make Zoom the MySpace of virtual conferencing” in the years to come? What’s next for the incorporation of ultra-realistic holograms into people’s daily lives?

While right now we can’t be completely sure, Proto intends to continue its pursuit of “Beaming You There,” as its motto describes. Except here, there’s less of the Star Trek fictional transporter tech (and the “dematerialization/remarterialization” therein); it’s happening via Proto hologram before our eyes.

(Also noteworthy, Proto is working with over 120 customers globally including dozens of Fortune 500 companies, major league sports franchises including the Super Bowl, and some of the world’s best-known celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Some of Proto’s marquee customers and partners include H&M, Christie’s, T-Mobile, DHL, PWC, Netflix, the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, O2 Arena, CBS, BT, AT&T, Medtronic and others.)

Edited by Alex Passett
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