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Cigna's Facestrument App Makes Music with Faces

  |  April 10, 2013   |  Comments

With the help of a webcam, the app challenges users to smile, wink and open their mouths on command to create sounds.

With a bullseye on helping its members be healthy, have fun, reduce stress and emphasize individuality, health insurance company Cigna has launched Facestrument, an app it says allows users to turn their faces into musical instruments and create their own shareable videos.

Facestrument requires a webcam to detect faces and facial expressions. Accessible via Cigna's Go You Facebook page, it prompts users to make certain movements -- like smiling, winking or opening their mouths -- to trigger specific sounds. Users can also choose a base track as well as a look and feel for the experience. Upon completion, they have a music video.

"You pick a track from a genre like pop, rock or hip hop and look for triggers -- it's like a dance game in an arcade, but it's online," says Cigna spokesman Joe Mondy. "You line up your face in the cam as well as in the outline face and it instructs you on what you need to do."

Mondy says Cigna had a soft launch for the app at the end of March. However, according to the Go You Facebook page, promotion actually began on the network on March 1.

He says a big multimedia promotion for Facestrument will follow in April or May.

According to Cigna, Go You is a tagline meant to inspire its members to be their true selves "in all [their] fantastically, amazingly, remarkably human glory." It espouses Cigna's goal of treating people like individuals and helping them act that way.

And, according to Mondy, Cigna's Go You Facebook fans are enthusiastic about trying new things, being themselves and having fun.

"We find more people are friending us on Go You than the corporate page because they're more into the notion of improving health and so forth than communicating with us as a corporation," Mondy says. "That's the way we like it. We want to be effective in helping improve health."

Indeed, Cigna's Go You Facebook page has 241,000 likes, compared to Cigna's 5,000 likes.

Once Cigna begins actively promoting the app, Mondy expects to have tens of thousands of users per day. On Friday, Facebook said 9,400 people use the Facestrument app.

Mondy also observes users don't have to be Cigna members in order to utilize the app, unlike its MyCigna mobile app, which is meant to help members organize and access health information. That means Facestrument's user base is unlimited.

Mondy says Cigna launched the app in part because it is all about being healthy, which extends to reducing stress, which he observes is behind many chronic illnesses like heart disease.

"We're teaming up our technology and your face to make music, reduce stress levels and have a little fun," he adds.

Cigna says Facestrument will be featured on its Go You pages on Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. It has also posted a how-to video on YouTube: 

Cigna also says it plans to leverage bloggers and Twitter users who are "true individuals."

@Cigna has about 6,700 followers.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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