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Pulse Shows Text-to-Speech, Automatic Lip-Synching Solution

(August 14, 2001)
Pulse today unveiled a "virtual personality technology suite" adjunct to its Pulse Animation Studio software that enables the easy creation of "virtual clones" -- in minutes and without any authoring expertise required. Being demonstrated in booth #1025 at SIGGRAPH this week, the technology facilitates creation of photoreal, 3D characters capable of interacting with Internet users in myriad ways across a broad range of applications.

Using new text-to-speech and automatic lip-synching functionality in conjunction with simple yet robust digital image capture and conversion technologies, Pulse now offers the ability to build engaging virtual counterparts to real and fictitious characters and people in less than 5 minutes, versus the hours or days previously required.

The virtual personality technology offers a range of competitive advantages including superior ease of authoring, expressiveness of virtual models and high visual quality. But it's the speed with which such characters and clones can be built that truly distinguishes the Pulse solution. At SIGGRAPH 2001 this week, Pulse is demonstrating the ability to take a single 2D photo of a human face, convert it to a photoreal 3D model, use text-to-speech or direct audio input along with automatic lip-synching, and produce a fully-functional virtual clone in less than 5 minutes.

Web-based applications for the virtual personality technology run the gamut from email and instant messaging (IM) to e-learning/training modules, medical visualization and instruction, entertainment, e-commerce and marketing/advertising. In particular, electronic correspondence represents a large existing market; according to industry research firm Gartner Group, more than 10 billion emails will be sent each day by the end of 2001. Further, over half of all consumers and businesses already have instant-messaging capabilities, and that number is expected to grow dramatically.

Internet access and web hosting service providers are a prime target for the virtual personality technology, in that they can quickly and easily offer their subscribers the ability to create and consume email and IM missives via virtual clones of themselves, or even licensed celebrities and other characters. Virtual characters, from CEOs to pets and rock stars, are expected to become popular as "hosts" of both professional and personal Web sites, greeting site visitors and perhaps escorting them from one area of a site to another, answering various questions (posed via text or verbal entry), and more.

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