Celebrity-Backed Proto Puts Holograms in a Four Seasons Hotel (2024)

Skift Take

At the very least, guests will remember the hotel where they talked to a hologram.

Justin Dawes

Guests at a Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills can now access in-room concierge via hologram.

TheBeverly Wilshirehotel has placed hologram devices made by Proto in itspenthouse and presidential suites. Thatallows guests to converse with hotel staff as if they were face-to-face, except that staff are projected into the devices as holograms.

This is the first hotel that has placed this product inside of a room, but Proto CEO David Nussbaum wants this to be the first of many.

“Hospitality, I think, is going to be massive for us. And it’s because we can do a lot of things … from corporate meetings, to live concierge, to entertainment, and also live events,” Nussbaum said.

“I think that this is going to lead to a lot of phone calls for us.”

The tabletop device, called M, is about 29 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 8.5 inches deep. It works by capturing the subject with a camera or mobile camera connected to the device’s software. That video is projected in real time into the space behind the device’s screen, at a time that the guest designates. From there, the holographic staff member and the guest can see and hear each other.

The tech inside consists of a series of projections and evenly distributed LED lighting, meant to make the subject appear three-dimensional and lifelike. The software platform that operates the tech can be used to connect a network of the devices.

The hologram can be a projection of a person in real time, or it can be a recording or a digital avatar.

Proto’s original hologram device, called The Epic, is seven feet tall and was released in 2021.

Proto showcased the two devices in a social media video shown below.

Expanding in Hospitality

Reed Kandalaft, general manager of Beverly Wilshire, said in a statement to Skift that the hotel is starting with the interaction capability, but it’s exploring other ways the devices could be used.

That includes projecting guests to remote meetings, providing shopping options with luxury retailers on Rodeo Drive, hosting business speakers, and offering entertainment and fitness content.

Nussbaum agrees that there are a lot of possibilities for what hotels can do — Hotel X Toronto recently placed a life-sized display in its lobby as a digital concierge — and Proto is allowing them to get creative.

“People, they are loyal. And so when they go to a hotel and they have a great experience, they will come back … therefore bringing more revenue to the hotel,” said Nussbaum, who was recently the guest on an episode of the How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz.

Nussbaum is also promoting it as a way that companies can save on business travel and reduce impact on the environment.

“Beaming a person in having a keynote speech, and then beaming them out to their home in time for breakfast, is a whole lot better for the environment than flying a person to Australia,” he said.

Proto is not the only hologram device maker looking to expand into hospitality. The startup Holoconnects in 2023 installed a similarly looking hologram box to replace front desk workers at a new Aiden hotel in Denmark, part of a 30-hotel deal.

A Celebrity-Backed Company

Proto’s investors include Paris Hilton, America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel, musicians Quavo and Lil Wayne, and athletes Brittney Griner, Marshawn Lynch, Robert Griffin III, and Albert Pujols.

They also include Tesla and SpaceX investor Tim Draper and Uber investor Mike Walsh.

Founded in 2019, the company has completed a series A fundraising round for $12 million. The company now has an open convertible note — a loan that can be repaid with equity in the startup — with a plan that it will become a series B round, Nussbaum said.

Much of the company’s business so far has come from the entertainment industry and for marketing and advertising, including in airports, theme parks, and cruise ships.

It has been featured at the Super Bowl and in promotions for H&M, T-Mobile, Netflix, and CBS, and more than 120 others.

Qatar Airlines at the ITB travel convention last month displayed a hologram of the digital face that represents its new AI travel planner.

It’s also used by about 40 universities for remote teaching, Nussbaum said. The company just showcased its tech at an AARP convention as a way to combat loneliness and improve telehealth for the aging population. There are some large retailers looking at having the boxes in stores as a way to show 3-D examples of products.

Christie’s auction house in New York, another Proto investor, is using the device to project holograms of items for sale. A pre-recorded holographic Elton John was on display at the auction house in February as he was selling items from his house in Atlanta.

Celebrity-Backed Proto Puts Holograms in a Four Seasons Hotel (2024)


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