The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of those events that everyone talks about, so an augmented reality experience in the festival's mobile app and from one of its headlining acts, Eminem, basically means the technology is officially cool.
The iOS version of the festival's app includes the Coachella Camera, which facilitates AR experiences for festival attendees.
Outside of the festival, users scan the Welcome Box that they receive with their iPhones or iPads to unlock an immersive surprise, which includes an animated Disco Shark that dances on a horizontal surface. Once at Coachella, attendees can also view augmented reality art that appears on the festival grounds.
The app, crafted using ARKit and ARCore, offers a pair of experiences involving the artist accompanied by snippets of his music. The first imagines a super-sized Eminem towering over a skyline, with helicopters surrounding him as if he were King Kong. The second experience opens a virtual portal to a stage in the desert.
In addition, an AR animation featuring Marshall Mathers acting as perhaps the worst spokesperson for a brand is unlocked by scanning the marvelously meta Mom's Spaghetti logo for the pop-up restaurant the artist brought to Coachella. "It's not that good," says Slim Shady after virtually vomiting plates of pasta.
Another AR experience, ominously titled "Stan's Basement," will arrive in a future update. The app also enables some AR content that is only available during live performances.
But not every major music artist is on board with using immersive experiences to reach fans. After a private demo of the augmented reality technology from Magic Leap last year, Beyonce, another Coachella headliner, reportedly found the experience "boring." In addition, fellow Coachella performers A Perfect Circle are among a growing contingent of artists who actually ban smartphones (or at least photography) from their shows.