I am guessing people who are mad about Argentinian footballing will be thrilled with the notion of a private plane bringing fans a deep fake’d visual of legendary player Diego Maradona, but there may be as many or more people who find the whole thing odd.
A fintech company, Give and Get, has equipped a 12-seater private jet as a flying museum and interactive tribute to Maradona, perhaps best known for his hand-assisted (but the referee missed that) goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. Maradona died in late 2020 at the age of 60, of cardiac arrest. A legend on the pitch, he was also somewhat legendary for his hard partying lifestyle.
The plane is flying around to numerous countries ahead of this fall’s World Cup in Qatar – with stops planned in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the USA, Rome, Naples (where Maradona played), Barcelona (where he also played), and Dubai, ending the journey in Qatar.
On board, reports Wired, will be some of the players who played beside Maradona as they won the 1986 World Cup, and the group will collect the signatures of celebrities who visit the plane. Everywhere the plane stops, fans will be able to leave a message for Diego.
News reports I’ve seen call the set-up a hologram, but like the other visual displays called holograms lately, it’s almost certainly not. It appears to be one of those hologram-ish transparent LCD shower-stall thingies, or possibly a Pepper’s Ghost visual illusion using projection. The videos make it hard to discern if the set-up is inside the plane, or separately in a unit deployed in the hangar.
The visuals use AI to help field questions from people who attend the exhibit. “We used a mixture of technology. We did a deep fake, combined with data of Diego and added some words. Diego will be learning all this time and will have a lot of surprises for Qatar,” says Gaston Kolker, CEO of Give and Get, speaking to Wired.
Thanks to a combination of AI with audio and visual technologies, visitors will be able to talk to Diego and ask him questions, as if communicating with the great man through the hologram. According to Kolker, the AI will be able to answer questions on “almost everything”, and, if it doesn’t understand something, it will respond with answers including “Let’s talk about soccer,” or, “Ask me something more interesting.”
Attendees can also do virtual selfies with a young Maradona.
The plane will also feature a small collection of Maradona memorabilia, and the jet has been decorated to celebrate the player.
The idea, Wired continues, came from Kolker’s love of the game, and of Maradona himself. “I’m a Maradona fan. And a soccer fan as well. This is probably the last World Cup for Messi and the first without Maradona,” he says. “Maradona shows prosperity and hope for everyone with a dream and that in some way everybody can make it. Aside from the outstanding talent he had, I always admire his way of living.”
A means of honoring Maradona’s legacy, after it has completed its aerial tour, the plane will be parked in a hangar at Qatar’s airport for visiting fans to explore. The plane, along with the memorabilia collected from celebrities around the world, will be available for viewing along with a collection of sculptures of Maradona.
“At the end of the World Cup, the idea is to do an auction for the plane, with all the memorabilia collected over the six months,” says Kolker. Part of the funds raised will go to an Argentinian non-profit called SUMA that works with people in need of mental health care.<