Going Holo: Using Holopresence Technology to Add Another Dimension to Financial Journalism
We’re all wired differently. Our passions, fears and dreams are different. And when we hear the word money, we all have unique thoughts and emotions too. Money itself is not the issue. What makes money complicated is our brain and how we manage the battlefield between reason and emotion.
Learning what our personal future holds, good or bad, is not appealing to most. What’s next for Wall Street, however, is something many people would like to know ahead of time. The financial media is all about knowing today what will happen tomorrow. "Tune in next time, to see what happens next!"—Just like any telenovela.
Mom-and-pop investors are better off focusing on a question one can answer with at least some accuracy: Who am I? Or since you are not a fixed thing, the even better question to ask yourself is: How would I like to engage life? Find that answer, and what happens next on Wall Street becomes secondary and less relevant. With that in mind and having worked at a major Wall Street firm in my early career, I felt the need to help reframe the conversation of retail investing.
I was born in Germany, spend part of my childhood in Liberia, and arrived in New York in the early 90s with a one-way-ticket, no prospects for a job, and a few thousand bucks I borrowed from a friend. All I wanted was to live the American Dream and work on Wall Street, and I am proud to say I made my dreams come true!
I started out in the mail room of an investment company (sleeping on my boss's couch), passed the options & futures exam and moved on to Bear Stearns. By the time I was 29, I had built a mid-size, thriving media agency. We covered Wall Street for German language audiences, selling parts of it at the start of the new millennium (and re-taking full control of my company after the tech-bubble burst).
To me, New York, Wall Street, and technology is all about being ahead of the game and being on the forefront of change. We started covering Wall Street from the Floor of the NYSE in April 1996, just three months after the arrival of CNBC. Six years ago, we built the first live streaming studio on Wall Street, pivoting away from television and towards social media. We have since expanded to a larger set and moved the studio to Industry City in Brooklyn.
A New Approach to Face-to-Face Conversations
With 1.8 million subscribers, we have become a dominant player in covering US-investment trends for retail investors in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Having worked with Cisco Germany for quite some time, expanding the studio presented the opportunity to collaborate on the next big thing: hologram technology.
In collaboration with Cisco and their partners, we created the first live streaming studio with integrated hologram technology. We held holographic interviews with German business leaders of emerging unicorns or publicly listed companies, featuring the next level of digital communication.
Holograms used to require a tremendous amount of bandwidth, but with the technology of Naumachia and Cisco, holograms are possible with any company’s standard internet setup. Best of all, Holobox 1:1 integrates seamlessly with telepresence solutions, including interactive displays.
Getting the Hologram Experience Right
Venturing into the new and unknown is as exciting, as it is challenging. We modified our set to integrate the Holobox 1:1 display and re-rigged the lighting. Next, we established a workflow to edit the holographic interview footage and package it into a 20-minute monthly show. We staffed remote camera and lighting crews who set up interview environments in our guest’s offices or conference rooms. In the end, we created the illusion that my guest is standing next to me in the studio.
Unlike webcam-based telepresence tools, Holobox 1:1 captures the entire body. Instead of interacting with a talking head on a two-dimensional screen, you stand face-to-face with someone, conversing as you would at a cocktail party or on the stage at a trade show. This view incorporates gestures and body language into the conversation, conveying more information and creating a greater sense of intimacy. Holopresence takes remote interactions to a whole new level.
My first remote guest on the new show was Cisco Germany General Manager Uwe Peter. It was an obvious choice, with Cisco being a blue-chip stock on Wall Street and playing such a pivotal role in this project. I was most curious about the audience’s reaction. Would they get it? Would they value the difference of a holographic conversation versus that of typical video conferencing?
People have become very familiar with video conferencing solutions throughout the pandemic, but research has begun to emerge about the stress that accompanies video calls. The brain can’t register body language or gestures the same as in a face-to-face conversation. Hologram technology creates a better level playing field, and our guests and audience responded to that.
The viewers were wowed by the technology. Watching a broadcast quality holographic image truly felt different to the audience. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with viewer numbers far above our traditional shows. Using cutting edge technology enabled us to also attract high caliber guests for the program, that we would have otherwise gotten.
Transforming Our Post-Pandemic Lives
Our partnership with Cisco and Naumachia pushed us forward. Using hologram technology, we can create a wonderful experience that’s just as engaging as in-person interactions, without the harmful environmental impacts or time lost to travel. Wall Street Correspondents is pioneering holograms in financial journalism, but there’s a great use case for the technology, especially in American workplaces.
It seems to me that the pandemic was an eye-opener for American workers, who don’t have the same generous vacation and parental leave policies as their European counterparts. Remote work has given them more time at home and with their families, which might have a lot more benefits than just working for the next title and the next pay raise. Many people aren’t willing to return to work under the old terms, and employers will have to respond. Holopresence solutions can level the playing field between in-person and remote workers. This technology—along with the metaverse and augmented and virtual reality—will revolutionize work and entertainment in our post-pandemic lives.
Before, everybody was an expert in their own sphere, from the banker to the doctor to the engineer. Today, these worlds are blending so fast, and we have to take great care to understand the points where borders meet. When we approach the conversations with an open mind and a willingness to innovate, the possibilities are mind-blowing.