free your darlings

Published: 2022-08-19


I did not like karaoke when I was younger, but over the years I have visited Japan quite a lot, and that has made me change my mind. I now consider it a must every visit. One crazy night of spontaneous singing at three in the morning with a random selection of friends and some Japanese people you met earlier the same night.

The Japanese style karaoke with private booths got me thinking. How about adding AR (Augmented Reality) to the karaoke experience? I think that a karaoke booth is a perfect place. It has very limited space and can therefore easily be mapped in 3D, so that the virtual and real reality can be stitched perfectly together. Limited space also means it is easy to adapt both the virtual and the real room. All AR equipment can be provided, maintained and updated by the Karaoke establishment.

Another reason Karaoke and AR is a good mix is that karaoke videos and the whole experience feels a bit cheap. As it should be. Focus should be on having fun. This means that the AR experience does not have to be super realistic as expectations are low. The fact that karaoke often comes with a lot of alcohol should also make it easier for participants to embrace the AR add-ons. The same way alcohol helps appreciate friends singing out of tune. One’s standards are lowered. Like they have to be when singing karaoke.

The reason it has to be AR instead of just VR (Virtual Reality) is that it is still a group activity. AR mixes the real world including your friends in the booth with the virtual worlds. Skip the boring 1980's Rom-Com-style videos and enter the next level of karaoke. Instead of just choosing what song to sing you can choose the setting for your performance just like you do in a video game. You can sing in the shower, in a car, in a classroom, in a giant arena, a beautiful garden or in space. Sound settings will adapt accordingly. Or why not step into famous music videos. You could be standing in Britney Spears' school hallway when you sing Baby One More Time.

AR can also introduce backup singers, celebrities or fantasy creatures. Imagine doing a duet with Freddy Mercury or Britney Spears standing on top of a pyramid. Maybe with the smurfs or some Hobbits on backup vocals. Each song can be an adventure tailored by you, for your friends. An obvious feature of an AR-karaoke system would be to add a virtual Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray from the movie Lost in Translation to your booth.



There is obviously a lot to do to get an AR-karaoke establishment up and running, so this project will be limited to creating a pitch for investors. A pitch with some crazy ideas as well as some nice renders of what AR-karaoke could look like. I will update this article with a link to the forum and rendered images for the pitch if you send them to me. If this is ever realized, don't forget to invite me for the opening party with Scarlett and Bill.

10% Done
  • Present the idea (this article)
  • Create a forum to get input from karaoke-goers and developers
  • Suggest song/AR ideas
  • Render images of what this could look like
  • Specify the hardware needed
  • Create a business plan
  • Pitch this idea to someone who can realize it

Links associated with this article