Holograms yes, those 3-D images Darth Vader used to communicate in "Star Wars" are coming to Latino grocery stores in L.A.

Developed in Chatsworth, a patented technology projects into space 3-D images in high-resolution streaming video. The product will be rolled out in 47 grocery stores in Hispanic neighborhoods in the L.A. area.

The holographic video, displayed in kiosks, would feature advertisements and content about products sold in the stores.

The system, developed by Provision Interactive Technologies Inc., will also soon pop up in duty-free stores internationally. It recently partnered with drinks giant Diageo, behind brands including Smirnoff and Baileys, to bring advertisements of its products in hologram form. This model would incorporate an "air touch" element where consumers can touch the floating images to get more information on the products.

"No one is used to seeing that anywhere other than science-fiction movies," said Chief Executive Curt Thornton.

Thornton said the company is responding to research that shows more than 70 percent of purchasing decisions are made inside a store. That's why many checkout counters at groceries feature small television screens with news and advertisements.

"Those flat panels are everywhere in homes, stores and at work and people are beginning to tune them out," Thornton said. "But images floating in space are something truly new."

Provision has recently sealed a partnership with a top advertiser, but Thornton declined to disclose the brand. A national grocery chain is also testing the product in 30 of its stores in the Pacific Northwest.

Founded in 2001, the company of a dozen employees is funded mostly through angel and private equity investors. It recently went public in February under the name Provision Holding Inc.

Marketplace Money

LeadPoint, operator of an online lead-generation marketplace, seems to have little difficulty raising funds. It's been around for four years and has successfully completed its fifth round of financing of $6 million.

The latest funding, from Silicon Valley Bank Venture along with Redpoint Ventures, brings the total amount of investment in the company to $16 million. LeadPoint serves as middleman between buyers and sellers of sales leads.

The money will go toward adding "bench strength" to the company, expanding marketing and sales forces and delve into new categories, according to a press release.

The Brentwood-based company is 100 employees strong and led by Chief Executive Marc Diana, previously on the founding team of LowerMyBills.com, a comparison shopping site that sold to Experian for $380 million in 2005.

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