Traditional media channels like film and broadcast TV are great ways to deliver star power at scale, providing celebrities one-way communication with a massive number of their fans.
Social media allows celebrities to connect with fans in a more interactive way. Still, that can quickly become overwhelming, if they have millions of fans. No one – not even a celebrity superstar — can have a meaningful conversation with more than a few people at a time.
Soul Machines, a worldwide leader in the creation of human-like, autonomously automated Digital People™, recently partnered with Nicklaus Companies to create a Digital Twin of golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Powered by proprietary technology, “Digital Jack” can understand users’ words, as well as nonverbal communication cues. He takes that information and delivers unique, personal responses that are consistent with Nicklaus’ knowledge of the sport.
Soul Machines calls this “autonomous automation,” meaning that the Twins are being brought to life in real time — in an incredibly human-like way.
This unique technology was created by Soul Machines co-founder and chief science officer Mark Sagar, Ph.D., a double Academy Award winner for the lifelike animation and capture technology in “Avatar,” “King Kong” and “Spider-Man 2.”
“We let fans personally experience a digital celebrity in a way that very few people get to do in real life,” says Greg Cross, CEO of Soul Machines. This technology has the potential to dramatically increase the ways that celebrities can build digital communities for their fans — and monetize their brands.”
Rapper Will.i.am partnered with Soul Machines to launch a Digital Person three years ago, prior to the development of the newer technology. Basketball great Carmelo Anthony will be launching an autonomously automated Digital Twin this summer. Soul Machines is also in talks with other Hollywood stars, sports talent and celebrity estates to create Digital Twins for their brands.
Celebrity Endorsements, Partnerships and Fan Engagement — at Scale
“Putting Digital Twins of real celebrities in a digital world makes them available 24/7,” Cross says.
These Digital People will interact with users and customers online and, eventually, in augmented reality and the metaverse through brand partnerships and selective sponsorships. Cross says that it is possible — from a technical point of view — to create Digital Twins of icons who have already passed, and such partnerships could be arranged by working with a celebrity’s estate.
“Digital People give us the opportunity to change the way that fans connect with their heroes, and we can also potentially bring back celebrities and icons from the past,” Cross says.
Launch of Digital Jack Nicklaus
Digital Twins can be any age, but with Soul Machines’ proprietary de-aging process, they can be sustained at the peak of the stars’ physical ability and legacy.
The Digital Twin of legendary golfer Nicklaus looks and sounds like the “Golden Bear” when he was at the prime of his career and became the first to achieve golf’s triple grand slam — winning four of the sport’s major tournaments for the third time.
“This is an opportunity to introduce Jack’s legacy, as a young man in his prime, to a whole new audience,” Cross says.
Digital Jack will be able to answer questions from users in a conversational way and chat about the game, as well as provide brand-specific information for customers.
“Jack Nicklaus’ brand is a global brand,” says Rob Sample, vice president of business development for Nicklaus Companies. “We saw this as a great platform to communicate with current fans, and future fans, in numerous languages. Jack was thrilled about having a curator of his story for generations to come that looks like him and sounds like him. The applications are limitless.”
Digital Jack will also be used on brand partner websites as an interactive customer experience avatar. Eventually, Digital Jack will migrate into the metaverse, possibly even showing up in a golf affinity group, allowing users to get advice on their swing or play a round of golf with the legend.
So, what does real-life Jack think of Digital Jack?
“I think the Nicklaus Company will get tremendous use out of this [Digital Twin] for a really long time,” Nicklaus says. “It could turn out that Digital Jack will advertise a 2045 automobile. Who knows? You could actually do almost anything… It’s fantastic.”
Soul Machines, a leader in artificial intelligence, creates autonomously animated Digital People™ in the digital worlds of today and the metaverse. The company brings Digital Workforces to life for some of the world’s biggest brands, as they innovate the future of brand interaction and personal, empathic customer experience. For more information, visit SoulMachines.com.