New technology helps connect audiences virtually

LOS ANGELES — Creating a game show buzzer is one project Simon Ingram undertook on a recent day.

Technology has always fascinated him. His first encounter was back in 1973, as a child in the U.K. He had convinced his mother that there would be a power outage during Princess Anne’s wedding — and there was, at least, in his house.

What You Need To Know

  • Tthe Play Platform allows audiences to to attend shows virtually
  • Simon Ingram says it was created eight years ago but reintroduced when the pandemic started
  • It’s been used on several game shows, reality shows and award shows
  • IONICO is a technology company that owns Play Platform

Ingram says it took his mom and aunt “about an hour and a half to realize that nobody else in our neighborhood had no power and they went into the garage where they found a stack of cardboard boxes climbing up the wall where I’d climbed up to the distribution box, basically taken it apart and disabled it.”  

He went from there to basically breaking every toy he had and learning to put it back together.

Now he’s the owner of Ionico, a technology company that is now making it possible for TV shows like “Dr. Phil” to have virtual audiences through what is called the Path Platform.

The Path Platform was built eight years ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Ingram reintroduced the technology.

“I was watching the news and this global pandemic that people were threatening and talking about, and I sat with my amazing development team and said, ‘We should dig out Path, revisit it.’ And we did, we completely rebuild it. It’s a cloud-based service now with some hardware for studio,” said Ingram.

Tom Herschko is the senior vice president for Ionoco and also a former game show producer. The company has a new space in North Hollywood, where they demo different technologies for their clients.

“All those producers and all those networks said, ‘What are we going to do?’ So we were able to bring some of our technologies to those clients. ‘Hey, you don’t have to stop, the show must go on and we can make that happen for you,’” said Herschko.

The show did go on for award shows, game shows and talk shows.

“Virtual production has really created just new ways of approaching old problems,” said Ingram.

He says it has also opened the door to reaching wider audiences and including those audiences in a variety of productions long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.