This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Virtual News, Virtual Ads
Apr 25 2000 12:00 AM PDT

Artificial cyberbabes seem poised to take over newscasting for the Palm (PALM) generation. Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ran stories on the virtualization of newsreading.

The Journal's Jeremy Wagstaff concentrated on the U.K. media scene, where green-haired Ananova is battling the more conservatively styled Vandrea for bragging rights as the first virtual newsreader. (Wagstaff missed the U.K. news channel News1st, which has been broadcasting since Feb. 18 with an entire virtual news team based on Microsoft (MSFT) Agent technology.) Wagstaff dipped into the gearhead stuff behind the cyberbabes' real-time animation and their Lernout & Hauspie-powered voice generation.

Motorola (MOT) is taking a different approach to its own virtual newscaster, according to a David Barboza story in the Times. The company plans to spend more than $10 million to start a service called "myosphere," in which a simulated long-legged blonde will read you the news over your cell phone. The image of "Mya" is based on a real model and is rendered almost photorealistically. Her voice was recorded by former "Beverly Hills 90210" actress Gabrielle Carteris. Barboza quoted Mya's visual effects supervisor recalling the first showing to Motorola: "She looked too real. We had to pull her back. That's why her clothes are shiny."

Writing in USA Today, Bruce Horovitz looked over the growing field of virtual advertising and virtual product placement. Horowitz conveyed the sense of uneasiness expressed by almost everybody involved in the business, from technology providers to ad agencies to broadcasters. - Keith Dawson

Virtual Newscasters Make Their Debuts in Cyberspace
Wall Street Journal
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Meet Mya, Motorola's Pitchwoman
New York Times
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Digital Ads Bend Reality
USA Today