When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say “I do” at their royal wedding next week, online viewers tuning into the Sky News stream will not have to guess the names of international celebrities and British nobility in attendance. Instead, the U.K. broadcaster will use artificial intelligence to identify famous guests as they make their grand entrances at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle — displaying the invitees’ names and details about how they are connected to the royal couple.
Dubbed “Who’s Who Live,” Sky News announced the live-stream service last week in partnership with Amazon.com and several data and engineering firms. As the 600 guests enter the chapel, Sky News will highlight notable attendees using Amazon Rekognition, a cloud-based technology that can recognize and compare faces in images and video using artificial intelligence.
(Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post)
Along with identifying the wedding guests, the live-stream service will also show facts about them, Sky News said, using captions and on-screen graphics through the company’s app. The data will be displayed alongside the video of the procession into the chapel.
“This new functionality allows Royal Wedding viewers greater insight into one of the biggest live events of the year, wherever they are,” David Gibbs, director of digital news and sports products at Sky News, said in a news release. “We’re excited by the software’s potential and ability to give audiences new ways of consuming content.”
The royal wedding is expected to command a massive global audience. More than 5,000 members of the media have been accredited to cover the event. According to the royal spokesman for Kensington Palace, there will be no official guest list, and no heads of state were invited, not even British Prime Minister Theresa May. All the invitees “have a direct relationship with the couple,” the spokesman said in a briefing last week at Buckingham palace.
While guests are probably aware the wedding will be widely covered by the news media, lowering their expectations of privacy, it is unclear whether Sky News has informed them their recorded arrivals will be fed into a facial recognition system. Sky News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The celebrity recognition feature’s debut could pave the way for its use at other high-profile events that often invite the audience to interact on social media. John Motz, the chief technology officer at GrayMeta, one of the technology firms behind the app, said in a statement the service gives users a chance to participate as the event unfolds and exemplifies how the future of live events can be experienced by people at home.
The ceremony and reception will take place on May 19.