World's First Cyber Newscaster Debuts

FRAMINGHAM (04/20/2000) - Ananova, the world's first virtual newscaster, made her online debut yesterday reading a bulletin about a plane crash in the Philippines.

The green-haired Ananova, owned by the Press Association, a news agency in Leeds, England - which renamed its new media division, Ananova Ltd. - uses San Francisco-based Digital Island's Footprint content delivery service to stream her real-time news bulletins. It requires an updated version of Real Networks G2 browser plug-ins, which download automatically to users who click the link to Ananova's live feed.

Billed as the human face behind Ananova.com, Ananova broadcasts real-time news, information and e-commerce to viewers worldwide. She has been programmed to show the appropriate emotions and actions at the appropriate time. Each news story or piece of information is tagged in a variety of ways to give her the clues she needs to read it appropriately - so she doesn't laugh when reading a sad story, or act too serious when reading a funny story, according to information provided at the Ananova Web site.

This tagged information, is then fed to the text-to-speech system that creates her voice, while the live animation technology matches her mouth movements to her words.

She even has her own search engine which helps her track down the latest news and sports stories on the Web. Ananova.com also allows people to search the U.K.'s biggest database of entertainment listings as well as buy tickets to events and order a variety of merchandise online.

In addition, users can sign up to receive Ananova Alerts - the latest news or information about various subjects - via e-mail.

Currently Ananova speaks only in English with an American accent. In the future she will be fluent in a number of languages.

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