Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is taking place in Las Vegas this week, and it’s buried inside a giant convention hall filled with new computers. The car you can drive with the PlayStation 5 controllermonitors and other technologies — a strange, scary, holographic Mario powered by artificial intelligence and sponsored by AARP (on time American Association of Retired Persons).
Updated 01/10/2024 at 22:10 EST: Proto and AARP approved Kotaku He said Nintendo had nothing to do with the hologram at CES and sent the following statement:
The AI hologram animation briefly seen today is an incomplete proof of concept being tested for a client to demonstrate technological capabilities and innovation. It is not intended for commercial release. AARP and Nintendo were not involved in today’s accidental demonstration. The fact that so many players around the world realize this shows that they are the best fans in the world and we salute them.
Original story continues below.
As spotted and recorded by Twitter (or X, I don’t care) user Greggory on January 9, a hologram booth inside an AARP space at CES 2024 featured: short, 3D CG Mario. This familiar Nintendo character can answer questions and react to participants. However, his stilted, robotic, monotonous voice and speech are quite repulsive and strange. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d rather say it Chris Pratt’s Mario above this holographic mess.
At one point, Greggory claimed that an AARP representative at the booth told him: Ask Mario how to buy video games. Mario then proceeded to offer this helpful advice: Target to buy.
On an unrelated note: This particular holographic stand appears to be co-sponsored by Target, as the store’s logo is affixed to the machine.
What is this thing and how does AARP connect to it?
While the robotic-sounding AI-powered Mario hologram is weird enough, it’s made even weirder by its connection to AARP. Why is this organization dedicated specifically to advocating for the elderly and retirees displaying a holo-Mario? Well, that’s part of it. agetechIt’s a larger technology push focused on meeting the needs of AARP’s “world’s aging population.” Yes, people familiar with Mario are getting older, including us. AgeTech includes a variety of start-ups, investors, creators and businesses.
One of these members appears to be Proto Hologram, a company that designs and creates large holographic-like boxes that can be placed in stores or public areas and used to advertise items using life-like people or mascots. According to a blog by AARP Speaking about its CES 2024 booth, Proto’s 3D holograms “can also help fight loneliness and improve telehealth.”
“3D Holograms allow you to teleport there when you can’t be there,” says AARP. CES 2024 website. “Come see how this next-generation Spatial Computing platform is transforming communication, combating loneliness, and revolutionizing telehealth for older adults.”
As far as I can tell, this Mario experience is not advertised or promoted by AARP or Proto. However, I don’t think this is because it was made without Nintendo’s approval. There’s no way these companies and groups could cheat at CES 2024 and introduce Mario at a huge booth. Instead, this is probably a way to get people at CES 2024 to go to the AARP booth and pay attention to it. Or does AARP think your elderly grandmother would enjoy chatting with Mario?
Kotaku He contacted AARP.
In Greggory’s last post on Twitter, the user said they were going to see Mario again and asked folks some questions. I have one: Ask Mario to sing “Peaches”, record it, and we can all have a good time watching this robot slay that song.