Step into Frank Sinatra’s virtual shoes

There’s no doubt about it: from his early days as a big band crooner through his mature years as a renowned solo artist and movie star, Frank Sinatra was a style icon as well as a singing legend. So it was only fitting when, earlier this year, the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY Museum teamed up with Microsoft and augmented reality innovator FaceCake Marketing Technologies to add an interactive dimension to its acclaimed Sinatra: An American Icon exhibit, which traced 100 years of Sinatra’s legacy. Thanks to FaceCake’s Kinect-powered Swivel virtual dressing room, museum visitors could try on some of Ol' Blue Eyes’ classic looks.

Designed as a shopping application, FaceCake’s Swivel turns a computer into a virtual dressing room, where a shopper can try on clothes and accessories with a simple click or wave of their hand. The customer poses in front of a Kinect sensor, which displays his or her image in a real-time video feed. Then the shopper selects items from a photo array of clothing and accessories, and the application presents the shopper “wearing” the selected items.

The Kinect-enabled Swivel application from FaceCake allowed museum visitors to virtually don Sinatra’s classic clothing.The Kinect-enabled Swivel application from FaceCake allowed museum visitors to virtually don Sinatra's classic clothing.

Adapting the Kinect-powered Swivel application to the GRAMMY Museum exhibit was, well, a piece of (face) cake. Substitute “fans” for “shoppers” in the description above, and you’ve got it. So, instead of trying on a new shirt or dress, the museum visitor could virtually don some of Sinatra’s clothing—from his signature fedora and black tuxedo to a costume from one of his memorable films—while backgrounds materialized to complete the scene in FaceCake’s real-time immersive experience. Fans were even able to capture a snapshot of themselves decked out in Sinatra splendor and share it with family and friends by using a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet. Museum guests snapped almost 7,000 such pictures over the 65-day run of this interactive component.

“We were excited to add to our already highly interactive exhibit by partnering with Microsoft and FaceCake to offer our visitors a new and innovative way to experience Frank Sinatra,” said Bob Santelli, executive director of the GRAMMY Museum. “The groundbreaking technology that both Microsoft and FaceCake brought to this exhibit was unlike anything we’ve ever done before.”

Presented in cooperation with the Sinatra family, Frank Sinatra Enterprises, and the Frank Sinatra Collection of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Sinatra: An American Icon celebrated the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth and gave visitors a glimpse into the private life of the Grammy winner. In addition to displaying Sinatra’s numerous awards (including his 1965 Grammy for Album of the Year), never-before-seen photos, and his official fan newsletter, the exhibit featured re-creations of his personal art studio and Capitol Studios’ famous Studio A, in which a recording of Sinatra running through multiple takes of the same songs can be heard, creating an intimate portrait of the man behind “The Voice.”

But for our money, the highlight had to be opportunity to slip virtually into Ol’ Blue Eyes’ wardrobe and imagine that you’re the fabled megastar. Or, as Frank himself might have (and did) sing, “I’ve got the world on a string…”

The Kinect for Windows Team

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