Last November, Royal Caribbean International said it would turn its fleet of 25 cruise ships into high-tech playgrounds. Today, it is adding to that with the release of SoundSeeker, a tool that uses artificial intelligence to create personalized vacation music videos.
Travelers simply submit three vacation photos to www.SoundSeeker.com and the machine-learning AI goes to work. It matches the images with a specific mood and creates an original music track to fit. Then it puts together a 30-second music video that you can share with family and friends.
SoundSeeker is another example of Royal Caribbean’s push to add technologies to the cruise experience in an attempt to woo millennials and their families, said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer at Royal Caribbean, in an interview with VentureBeat. It’s part of a broader race between competing cruise lines seeking to appeal to a cooler crowd. In early 2017, Carnival said it would roll out Ocean Medallion wearables on more than 100 cruise ships.
“This is deriving original music on the basis of how the machine learning is interpreting the content of the photos,” Berra said. “It’s something we are doing purely for fun and to give people a chance to reflect and think about the vacations in their lives.”
Miami-based Royal Caribbean created the AI tool to turn your memorable photos into musical and shareable works of art. The company identified 10 moods, including happy/joyful, dramatic/stormy, cozy/warm/safe, proud/ambitious, sad/reflective, exploring/curious, energetic/intense, relaxed/peaceful, romantic/sensitive, and courageous/adventurous.
The machine-learned AI is powered by music theory developed by the Berklee College of Music, which collaborated in the creation of SoundSeeker. The AI analyzes the images based on color, landscape, backdrop, emotion, body language, and facial expression and then crafts a shareable and one-of-a kind soundtrack.The customized tracks take inspiration from a wide variety of music, including ’90s hip-hop, rock, modern, and electronic dance music. Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean’s social channels, and by searching #SoundSeeker.
Over more than a year, Royal Caribbean teamed up with its agency, MullenLowe; experts from Berklee College of Music; and technologists from around the world to create the song generator.
Berklee leveraged music theory for the tool to match music to photos, accounting for pitch, tempo, and instrumental combinations, among other qualities. The contributors from Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) — an on-campus initiative that promotes entrepreneurialism in part by engaging Berklee students and faculty with emerging creative technologies — included electronic production and design chair Michael Bierylo, associate professors Ben Hogue and Michael Sweet, and assistant professor Jean-Luc Sinclair.
“We were excited to work with Royal Caribbean International on this new technological innovation, and in the process redefine what creative collaboration means,” said Panos Panay, Berklee vice president for innovation and strategy and managing director of BerkleeICE, in a statement. “The work of BerkleeICE expands our students’ definition of what can be accomplished with music education by pushing the boundaries of creative expression utilizing technology. By harnessing AI to develop customized soundtracks for treasured memories, together we have created a new way for people to share their experiences with one another.”
Royal Caribbean used Google’s TensorFlow tech to train the AI for more than 600 hours to match hundreds of music tracks with 10,000 photos categorized into 10 different moods.That resulted in 2.5 million combinations possible. Over time, as people submit more images for music videos, the AI will get better. The program will judge whether it did a good job based on whether the users keep coming back to the video.
“As more fans play with it, the model will get better,” Berra said. “We can expand the library. We can expand to add more genres, like jazz and classical.”
Royal Caribbean has been enhancing its cruise experience through a project dubbed Excalibur, through which it is investing tens of millions of dollars to incorporate new technology. Previously, the company created SeaSeeker, a custom-engineered scuba mask for Snapchat Spectacles; Voom, which it says is the fastest internet at sea; Virtual balconies, giving interior rooms a view; RFID tracking technology; cocktails served by robots at the Bionic Bar; and a mobile app that boasts smart features like expedited arrival and X-ray vision into behind-the-scenes areas of the ship, such as the navigational bridge.
Royal Caribbean isn’t trying to generate any obvious revenue streams from this new free tool.
“It’s purely a fun platform for consumers to engage with,” Berra said.