Cameo has added a pair of timeless superstars to its stable of celebrities (a term used loosely in some cases) available for personalized video greetings. Cookie Monster and Elmo, who may or may not have fallen on hard times, will shamelessly plug their services on the six-year-old platform, offering to count to your kid’s age or rattle off words that start with the same letter as your child’s name — for $25 a pop. Perhaps that relatively low price for the Sesame Street icons is because humans don’t appear to record their voices: Cameo describes the characters as “powered by artificial intelligence.”
Cookie Monster and Elmo join a Cameo crew that also includes Kenny G ($350 per message), Danica McKellar ($150) and Billy Dee Williams ($300), among many others. Other animated characters on the platform include Thomas the Tank Engine, Grumpy Bear (from Care Bears) and JJ from CoComelon.
“Hiya, it me, Cookie Monster,” the perpetually hungry, AI-fueled blue Muppet says in a sample Cameo on the service’s website. “Me so excited to meet you and maybe share a cookie or two. Me love to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ say goodnight before bedtime or just say hi. Me can’t wait.”
Disclosures on the websites for the Sesame Street characters notify customers that AI powers them. “Elmo is a virtual character powered by artificial intelligence,” the description reads. “They will take the details you give them and craft a custom video just for you!” Engadget reached out to Cameo to clarify which parts of the message are AI-generated; we’ll update this article if we hear back.
Whether parents will find it worth paying for “personalized” greetings conjured by artificial intelligence remains to be seen. Still, at least the algorithmically created furry monster messages only cost around 12 percent of the price of Michael Rapaport.