A South Korean company named Elrois is creating an app called ‘With Me’ which allows users to take selfies with celebrities or deceased loved ones.
According to the app’s creators, ‘With Me’ is being developed so that people can recreate the image and personality of someone who has passed away. They hope that the app will be a great way of overcoming a broken heart.
Eun Jim Lim, a spokesperson from Elrois, told BBC news that she was saddened when her grandmother passed away. She said, “I cannot take a photo with her anymore and in that case it would be great to use our avatars”.
Users can create avatars – digital representations of loved ones – by dragging them to a 3D scanning booth (while they’re alive). The conversation surrounding this endeavour would be pretty morbid:
“Hey why are you scanning me?”
“Oh, I just need it so after you die, I can take selfies with you”.
After uploading the 3D scan, ‘With Me’ creates the avatar and you are good to go. As well as popping up in selfies, the company says the avatar can scan a users’ faces to see if their appearance or emotional state has changed. It can then comment on those changes. Who wouldn’t want a dead friend telling you you’ve put on weight?
Details about how the app will recreate someone’s personality are fuzzy. Elrois claims that you will be able to “hold a conversation” with the avatars, but is unclear where the avatar’s personalities will actually come from.
One possibility is that ‘With Me’ could scrape data from social media, which is an avenue that has already been explored. In 2013, The Guardian reported that apps called LivesOn and DeadSocial were being developed. These apps were meant to analyse your social media, learn how you speak and then keep posting after pass away. Currently, the LivesOn site is down and DeadSocial is in the process of “evolving” so it doesn’t look like demand is very high.
Maybe this creepy explainer video will help. It features cheery phrases such as: “In this message, we recommend that you tell your friends and family that you have died”. That’s officially 2Spooky4me.
‘With Me’ doesn’t want to stop at loved ones, since the app will include the option of taking snaps with celebrities too.
The company says that it will first “obtain permission”, from the celebrities in question, but that may not be so simple. With the advent of CGI technology, many famous people are already taking steps to protect their image after they are gone. For example, Robin Williams placed a legal restriction on his image being used for 25 years after his death.
If all of this sounds quite familiar, it may be because you are a Black Mirror fan.
— Butcher Billy (@billythebutcher) December 9, 2016
The dystopian sci-fi show had an episode in the second season called “Be Right Back”. In it, a grieving woman signed up for a similar service to digitally resurrect her deceased husband. Later, she was even able to get a replica of his body. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t end well.
As our lives merge with the digital world, the question of what happens to our images after we die is becoming trickier. We’re already at the point at which we have to take steps to protect our “digital legacy” after we’re gone.
This isn’t the first time that Black Mirror has predicted or at least echoed events in the real world. The show has been credited with predicting Donald Trump winning the U.S election, David Cameron’s business with a pig and robotic bee drones.
We’ll have to wait till season four to see what Black Mirror predicts next. Charlie Brooker, the show’s creator, says it might not be so dark. If the show truly is prophetic then that’s good news for us.