Imagine a sundae hanging in the air before you. Scoops of chocolate, butterscotch, strawberry and mint. With generous dollops of honey and a liberal sprinkling of roasted nuts and choco chips. & #BANNER1 & # You drool over it, walk around it, look at it from all possible delicious angles and unable to resist the temptation, you try to grab it…only to come up with fistsful of thin air.
Welcome to the world of 3D advertising. The revolutionary display technique known as volumetric projection system (VPS), where objects seem suspended in mid-air, is about to hit India, and could well change the looks of point-of-sale or outdoor communication completely.
Sci-fi movie lovers may remember seeing similar visuals in Star Wars, where the robot R2D2 creates a 3D hologram of Princess Leia, and in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall.
The technology works like this: An object, whose image is being projected, sits inside a unit which projects the object's light into space through mirrors and lenses. The effect created is that of the object hovering in the air.
At eye-level (that is five to five-and-a-half feet), the object can be actually viewed from all angles and you can even walk through it, literally.
VPS is being introduced in the country by 3D Media Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the nine-year-old Barcelona-based 3D Media Group. With divisions in New York, Oslo, Seoul besides Mumbai, the holding company (which touched a turnover of 30 million Euros in 2003) specialises in 3D point-of-purchase and point-of-display solutions.
In India, which is also the parent company's South-East Asian marketing hub, 3D Media has an impressive client list featuring Pepsi, Coke, Dettol, Shoppers' Stop, Lexi Pens, HLL's Domex and Standard Chartered Manhattan card.
"The effect created in the movie Star Wars would be extremely expensive to replicate," says Mukesh Manik, managing director, 3D Media Solutions, India. "It would cost around Rs 80-90 lakh for a single unit," he informs. "To make the technology more affordable, we have introduced two models, the Object Unit and the Video Unit," he adds.
While the Object Unit can create illusions of objects as big as a soda can or a cell phone floating in the air, the Video Unit can actually play a DVD in space. So, you can have a talking head suspended mid-air, and can put your finger through its eyes (giving in to your wicked side that is!). And no, you won't require glasses or any other viewing instrument to enjoy these displays.
In order to make the system more affordable, the company has had to make certain compromises though. To begin with, instead of the 360 degree viewing angle, one can only get a 90 degree viewing angle, and for objects no bigger than 12 cm in height. "What we do is create mock-ups of the products and carry the text in reverse on the images," explains Manik. "These are then projected through the help of optics."
Developed initially for the US-army, this technology was commercialised more than a decade ago. But because of the high-investment involved, the technology had few takers among corporates.
To circumvent the problem, 3D Media Solutions has come up with a different business model in India. "We are not selling the units as yet, but will install them at strategic places in malls and other commercial spaces and rent our display time to advertisers," Manik explains.
The installation cost of Rs 1.5 lakh will be borne by the company, while a nominal charge of approximately Rs 700-Rs 800 per day will be charged to the advertisers.
The first to adapt this technology will be Shoppers' Stop; the retail chain will have three-four of these display units each across its 15 retail outlets next month. But before that, VPS will be demonstrated at the forthcoming POP Asia, the company informs. So far, the proposed business model has found a couple of clients, Manik informs. And they include, jewellery makers, cell phone marketers, cola majors and pharma companies for OTC products.
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