A startup called ImagineAR has launched FameDays.com and the FameDays mobile app to allow fans to enjoy life-size "hologram" video messages from famous athletes and celebrities. Among the AR celeb greetings currently available in the app are boxer Tyson Fury, baseball athlete Pete Alonso, football player Von Miller, wrestler Ric Flair, reality television star Blake Hortsmann and others.
TechCrunch spoke with the founder, president and CEO of ImagineAR, Alen Paul Silverstieen about how the company got started as well as the new launch.
The startup was launched in 2018 and focused on leveraging AR as a sports fan engagement opportunity. ImagineAR delivers an AR self-publishing CMS (content management system) in the cloud that allows businesses (professional sports franchises, retailers, etc.) to create an AR experience for customers in 60 seconds or less without the need for a program. It has the ability to support any type of content, whether it's an MP4, JPG, PNG, OBJ or FBX. The platform has built-in chroma key, which means the company uses a visual-effects and post-production technique, layering two video streams together based on color hues. The AR experience is automatically delivered to any location throughout the world.
ImagineAR engages fans with AR scavenger hunts, holograms and other unique ways of using the technology. What initially began with local Erie teams like the Bay Hawks, eventually grew into what it is now today -- working with companies like GrubHub, AT&T and LaLiga teams like Real Sociedad.
Eventually, Silverstieen began to see a pattern with clients, as they often requested "holograms" for their AR campaigns. So that's when the company decided to create an app that focuses on this, targeting well-known athletes and reality TV stars.
Image Credits: FameDays
FameDays allows fans to take a photo or record a video with the virtual version of whichever favorite star they want and look as if they are standing alongside them in real life.
The various generic greetings are available for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, gender reveals and others, with most priced around $20 or under (the lowest cost is $4.99).
FameDays has no plans to personalize the pre-recorded greetings or use A.I. or deep fakes. While you can send the e-greeting to a loved one with your own written message that appears as a text box, this is as far as it goes in terms of personalization.
“We wanted to make it accessible and affordable to anyone in the world, which is what FameDays is about. When you get a FameDays, you can personalize the messaging that comes with it directly so you could type in whatever message it is," Silverstieen said. "But no, we're not going to go in and use AI or deep fakes. I think it takes away from what the brand is, what the athlete is and what they represent. I want them to communicate and be themselves in more of a general way.”
The talent can record videos for FameDays with general greetings like "Happy Birthday," which allows fans to record videos of them standing next to their favorite celeb. The talent then takes the majority of the revenue or donates the proceeds to their foundation of choice. Alen would rather not get into specifics about how much celebrities make with each FameDay video, he said.
Silverstieen said the company's goal is to take FameDays across the entertainment space, working with TikTok influencers and other content creators, until eventually, the platform will give these public figures the ability to self-publish their own videos to FameDays and make them available on the platform to their target fanbase.
ImagineAR also just signed with the professional bull riding association so he did say to "stay tuned" for bull riders (and even the actual bull) possibly on its way to the platform.
These kinds of apps aren't exactly new but FameDays combines celebrity endorsements and greetings, so it's interesting to look at.
TechCrunch tried the FameDays app for ourselves, choosing Ric Flair's "Super Fan Greeting" (because, why not?). FameDays sent the greeting to a specific location where we could then use the hologram on either an iPhone or Android. When selecting the greeting, the app then opens up your camera and instructs you to point your device at the ground and tilt up to place the "hologram."
It took a couple of attempts to place the AR "hologram," and sometimes recording the video was a bit glitchy. However, the end result was pretty hilarious -- and getting to stand next to an AR version of Ric Flair was kind of iconic.