CBS Sports HQ Embraces Proto Hologram Interview Technology

Virtual guests in remote locations appeared to be 3D, interacted with interviewer

A Super Bowl is about more than just the activity around the stadium, and Super Bowl LVI was no exception. The Los Angeles Convention Center, the Santa Monica Pier, and Marina del Ray were prime locations for interviews, live standups, and more. It was also a place for innovation: CBS Sports HQ made use of Proto hologram technology to bring guests located at Radio Row in the convention center virtually into the CBS Sports HQ set atop the Marriott at Marina del Ray hotel.

CBS Sports HQ used Proto holographic tech for virtual interviews.

“CBS Sports HQ is proud of the first-class coverage and engaging content we have been able to provide viewers with these ground-breaking interviews,” says Kieren Portley, SVP, programming and production, CBS Sports Digital/executive producer, CBS Sports HQ. “We saw tremendous success utilizing Proto holographic technology during interviews from our coverage in Los Angeles.”

Proto’s Epic system features a cabinet roughly 7 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide, and 2 ft. deep. The interviewer is with the Proto, and the guest is in front of a white screen (or a green screen) at the remote location. The guest’s image is sent to the Proto, which displays it on an open-cell touch LCD panel. Proto processing software adds shadows and reflections that make the guest on the screen three-dimensional.

The guest can see the audience or host on a display monitor, and a confidence monitor lets them see how they look in the Proto. Lining everything up properly enables eye contact and natural interactions.

Proto has also been used at Formula E Racing’s Brooklyn Grand Prix, where the CEO and drivers were virtually transported to meet with media at a different location in town, and at Mercedes Benz Stadium for Atlanta United F.C. and Falcons fan activations. The MLB All-Star Game Fan Experience with T-Mobile, Chase Bank in front of Penn Station for the US Open, and the Australian Open all have relied on it. Usain Bolt has used it to play videogames with fans remotely, and F1 legend Lewis Hamilton toured the U.S. in hologram form with IWC watches.

“CBS Sports HQ is the first time Proto has been incorporated in a broadcast,” says Proto CEO David Nussbaum. “The athletes and set were a few miles apart, but the quality of the exchange would be just as good from around the world; we’ve beamed people to Asia and Europe for live meetings.”

Proto has 1,000 units sold or leased across 20 countries, says Phillips. “It won’t be long before we’re seeing players beam into studio sets right from the court or field.”

Proto’s units are completely self-contained, with onboard speakers and cameras. They work in any light; they are easy to move on their hidden wheels and are plug-and-play. As for beaming in, all that is needed is a camera and a white screen and soon, says Phillips, just a smartphone via an app.

Nussbaum notes the team’s excitement at Proto’s use by CBS Sports HQ during Super Bowl Week. “We were thrilled to have our first use in live sports broadcasting be with CBS Sports HQ, involving more than 10 retired and active NFL stars — some real legends!”

Among activations during Super Bowl Week, Proto was deployed at the Denver Broncos private party, at Jay Glazer’s party, and at the Rolling Stone + Coinbase party.

“Sports and Proto seem to go together really well,” says Phillips, “although we’re also very active in health, education, retail, and other fields. We have 57 active and retired pro-athlete investors, including Marshawn Lynch, Robert Griffin III, Breanna Stewart, and Albert Pujols.”

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