A startup called ImagineAR launched FameDays.com and the FameDays mobile app to let fans enjoy life-size “hologram” video messages of famous athletes and celebrities. Some of the AR celebrity greetings currently available in the app include boxer Tyson Fury, baseball athlete Pete Alonso, soccer player Von Miller, wrestler Ric Flair, reality TV star Blake Hortsmann and others. .
TechCrunch spoke with ImagineAR Founder, President, and CEO Alen Paul Silverstieen about starting the business as well as the new launch.
The startup was launched in 2018 and focused on harnessing augmented reality as a sports fan engagement opportunity. ImagineAR provides a cloud-based AR self-publishing CMS (content management system) that allows businesses (professional sports franchises, retailers, etc.) to create an AR experience for customers in 60 seconds or less without the need of a program. It has the ability to support any type of content whether it is an MP4, JPG, PNG, OBJ or FBX. The rig has a built-in chroma key, which means the company uses a visual effects and post-production technique, layering two video streams based on color hues. The AR experience is automatically delivered to any location in the world.
ImagineAR engages fans with AR scavenger hunts, holograms, and other unique ways to use technology. What started with local Erie teams like the Bay Hawks eventually became what it is today – working with companies like GrubHub, AT&T and LaLiga teams like Real Sociedad.
Eventually, Silverstieen began to see a trend with customers often requesting “holograms” for their AR campaigns. That’s when the company decided to create an app that focuses on just that, targeting well-known athletes and reality TV stars.
FameDays allows fans to take a photo or record a video with the virtual version of their favorite star of choice and look like they’re standing alongside them in real life.
The various generic greetings are available for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, gender reveal and more, with most costing around $20 or less (the lowest cost is $4.99).
FameDays does not intend to personalize pre-recorded greetings or use AI or deep forgeries. While you can send the e-greeting to a loved one with your own written message that appears as a text box, that’s as far as it goes in terms of personalization.
“We wanted to make it accessible and affordable for everyone around the world, which is what FameDays is all about. When you get a FameDays, you can directly customize the messaging that comes with it so you can type in any message,” Silverstieen said. “But no, we’re not going to go in and use AI or deep fakes. I think that takes away from what the brand is, what the athlete is and what he stands for. I want that they communicate and be themselves more generally.
Talent can record videos for FameDays with general greetings like “Happy Birthday,” allowing fans to record videos of them standing next to their favorite celebrity. The talent then takes the majority of the revenue or donates the proceeds to the foundation of their choice. Alen prefers not to go into detail about how much celebrities earn from each FameDay video, he said.
Silverstieen said the company’s goal is to push FameDays into the entertainment space, working with TikTok influencers and other content creators, until eventually the platform gives these public figures the opportunity to post their own videos on FameDays themselves and make them available on the platform to their target fan base.
ImagineAR also just signed with the professional bull riding association, so it said to “stay tuned” for bull riders (and even the actual bull) possibly en route to the platform.
These types of apps aren’t exactly new, but FameDays combines celebrity endorsements and greetings, so it’s worth looking 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 an iPhone or Android. Upon selecting the greeting, the app then opens your camera and asks you to point your device at the ground and tilt it to place the “hologram”.
It took a few tries to place the AR “hologram”, and sometimes the video recording was a bit glitchy. However, the end result was pretty hilarious – and standing next to an AR version of Ric Flair was pretty iconic.