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Continued: 3M Co. uses "virtual” humans in creative marketing pitch for trade shows

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 6, 2013 - 7:35 AM

Grabbing some attention

“At the root level it is novel and a different way to convey digital information,” said Carter Jensen, experiential technical specialist with Minneapolis ad agency Periscope, who saw prototypes at 3M before the virtual presenter launched and later saw it in action at drugstores in New York and elsewhere.

“It’s going to grab some attention right off the bat. People walk by and see it. It looks like an actual, real person and you kind of do a double take. You are not sure what it actually is.”

From a technology standpoint, 3M isn’t breaking new ground. But it has hit upon a unique combination of rear-projection and digital display technology and “capitalized on an interesting application,” Jensen said.

It is unclear just how well the product will sell, he said. Right now, 3M has “novelty going for it” and the ability to convey customized messages in an interesting way.

Old tool, new twist

Whichever way the technology evolves, 3M’s effort is a new twist on an old tool.

In the past, marketers at trade shows and elsewhere tried to get attention with holograms — three-dimensional images that are created from a photographic plate and laser. Holograms became novelties back in the 1980s, when marketers first used them at trade shows to “virtually” spin around a product or show off its dimensions.

“But it was always on a pretty small scale,” Pavek said.

3M’s new product is not a hologram, but gives that illusion and in a life-size format that “is not a technology that is commonly deployed. You are more likely to see a 3-D image in a theater than you would a hologram or virtual presenter” at a trade show.


Dee DePass • 612-673-7725


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  • Video: 3M's 'Virtual Presenter' is turning heads

    Friday July 5, 2013

    Using tiny ceramic beads, 3M has come up with a new way to project an image in non-traditional shapes.


  • Bill Hibbard, 3M’s business development manager, showed off a virtual presenter with the likeness of NASCAR driver Greg Biffle projected on a high-tech screen at the Innovation Center in Maplewood.

  • Luke Hafstad, right, who worked on 3M’s virtual presenter project, explained how the eerily lifelike woman on the screen is able to talk, move, and make and maintain eye contact with someone.

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