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OPLIN 4Cast #727: Can the holidays go virtual? We’re about to find out

Posted in 4cast

More than ever, people are looking for ways to make the holiday season more palatable, as most are restricted from traveling or getting together with their friends or family. Several new iterations of existing technology are helping to meet this need. Interestingly enough though, the idea of a “virtual holiday” isn’t new; pre-pandemic, in 2019, a third of Americans planned to celebrate that way.

  • 11 ways to virtually visit Santa this holiday season [Mashable] “While your kids aren’t able to sit on Santa’s lap in 2020, they can still interact with him through a screen. A bunch of helpful online services are offering virtual Santa visits in the form of pre-recorded video messages or live video calls. They vary in price depending on type and duration of experience, date booked, and personalization, so we thought it would be helpful to round up a few of the best options for you to browse.”
  • A Mission to Make Virtual Parties Actually Fun [Wired] “Gather is part of an emerging genre of communication platform that’s halfway between Zoom breakout rooms and chatting during video games. It’s called proximity chat. The basic idea is that you have an avatar or icon that can walk around virtual spaces or jump between virtual “tables,” and, much like in real life, you can see and hear only the people who are nearby.”
  • Mall of America’s High-Tech Concierge Offers Personalized Assistance [TrendHunter] “The Shopping Hologram Concierge makes the most of VNTANA’s patented software platform, which connects an existing chatbot (such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Alexa, IBM Watson and more) with a 3D model to create a smart avatar.”
  • From holograms to Plexiglas walls: How Santa comes to the mall during a pandemic [CBC] “‘It’ll be 3D,’ said Jillian Mason, the mall’s marketing manager. ‘It will look like Santa is floating in thin air because he is, because Santa is magic. He will be in his office in the North Pole writing letters, eating cookies and drinking milk. When he sees a child pass by he’ll wave to them.'”

From the Ohio Web Library: