"Walter Prime," a virtual character played by Jon Hamm in the new science-fiction film "Marjorie Prime," is available to interact with via holograms on 8i's mobile augmented reality (AR) app, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The tech company published several Hamm holograms in conjunction with the theatrical release of the movie, which opens today.
Hamm, who also plays a hologram in the film, appears as his "Walter Prime" character in a virtual rendering available for free in the Holo app in the App Store and Google Play. The app lets smartphone users meet "Walter Prime" as if they were in the same room. Users can also snap a selfie or record a video with the character.
8i introduced the hologram at Sundance, making the "Mad Men" star the first actor to be turned into a hologram for virtual and augmented reality.
The mobile hologram of Hamm's character is a fun way to engage smartphone users ahead of the Aug. 18 release of "Marjorie Prime," a film adaption of Jordan Harrison's 2014 Pulitzer Prize-nominated stage play of the same name. It is also the latest example of how mobile technology is enabling users to interact with characters and even influence storylines for their favorite films and books.
AR is evolving beyond gaming apps liked Pokemon Go as companies like Facebook and Apple embrace the technology, meaning more consumers will be exposed to the technology. Both companies have announced tools to allow developers to add AR effects to their apps. Steve Raymond, CEO of 8i, said his company plans to support Apple's ARKit developer platform for the iOS version of Holo as soon as possible.
Sony Pictures promoted "Spider-Man: Homecoming" with a campaign that included more AR technology. In addition to having a hologram on Holo of the web-slinging comic-book hero, the studio's campaign included interactive digital billboards in New York City’s Times Square. Its mobile AR campaign featured a "Spider-Man Scramble" game that let viewers control a virtual version of the superhero appearing on the outdoor ads by using their smartphones.
The marketing possibilities for holograms will multiply as they're used in mobile campaigns that include product demonstrations or characters from TV and film. A clear shift is underway in the use of smartphone cameras from a fun splash of entertainment or movie promotions to adding value to consumers' lives and informing brands' mobile marketing strategies. From the quick growth of image-sharing social platforms to last summer's viral Pokemon Go, rising numbers of users suggest a major interest in engaging with the real world through a mobile device.