Subscribers of the sleeping aid and meditation application Calm can now be treated to a bedtime story narrated by the late Hollywood icon Jimmy Stewart, who died in 1997.
With the blessing of Stewart’s family and estate and with the use of artificial intelligence, the “It’s a Wonderful Life” actor’s trademark voice will be helping some people get to sleep just in time for Christmas.
Calm uploaded a teaser for the AI-generated reading of “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” on its Instagram page last week.
While many people have expressed reservations about using the likeness and voices of those who have passed away, Calm noted that the reading of a story in Stewart’s voice was done with his family’s blessing.
“Thanks to the wonders of technology and the support of Jimmy Stewart’s estate and family, we’ve been able to honor the legacy of beloved Hollywood legend, Jimmy Stewart,” the company wrote.
Calm added, “It’s A Wonderful Sleep Story is a new, but timeless tale of hope and kindness, brought to life by Jimmy Stewart’s iconic voice. So cozy under the covers and drift off to sleep — the festive way.”
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In a short audio clip, a voice that sounds awfully familiar said, “Well, hello. I’m James Stewart. But, well, you can call me Jimmy.”
The AI-generated voice added, “Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope, and of joy. But most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.”
Many people who listened to the brief preview of the reading expressed joy after hearing it.
“Ooh I can’t wait! I love that we can still hear the warmth and kindness in his voice,” one commenter wrote. “It’s like a warm hug.”
Another Instagram user responded, “I listened to the story the other night. I really enjoyed it.”
The computer-generated rendering of Stewart’s voice was not without its critics.
One person who chimed in on the post commented, “I’ve been a Calm subscriber for a long time and I love everything you do but this is pretty creepy. Not a fan of AI personally. Maybe rethink this.”
Stewart’s daughter disagrees.
In an interview with Variety about the new reading from her late father, Kelly Stewart Harcourt dished about hearing his familiar voice.
“We are excited for our dad to be the voice of Calm’s latest Sleep Story,” she said. “It’s amazing what technology can do and wonderful to see Dad’s legacy live on this holiday season in new ways, like helping people find restful sleep and sweet dreams.”
According to Variety, the people at Calm developed the story in collaboration with an AI startup called Respeecher, which has worked with Disney on numerous “Star Wars” projects.
To nail down Stewart’s trademark speech pattern, a voice actor first recorded the story for Calm.
Respeecher used the latest in AI technology to do the rest.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.