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Germany

Send a Virtual Smily to a Friend

Now that your computer can read and speak to you, it’s only one short step to a smiling e-mail.

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Smile, and your computer smiles back at you

While recently-developed text-to-speech software enables any website to be read aloud to users free of charge, the voices are still rather robotic and lacking in human emotion. But a new software program developed by the company LifeFX is about to change the computer into a visibly emotional communicator by bringing moveable faces to the monitor.

A picture says a thousand words, especially when it’s an animated face.

Called Facemail, the new human-interface technology reads email texts aloud and creates moving faces that correspond to the emotions in the text. The software relies on the text-to-speech program developed by IBM and takes it one step further. The software can be downloaded free of charge from LifeFX’s website.

The Facemail software is based on a unique biometric modeling system that generates photo-realistic, life-like virtual people, referred to as "stand-ins". These avatars look and move like people, and there are about 20 to chose from, including men, women, clowns and tigers.

Writing an email with Facemail is not any more difficult than the usual electronic post technology. The writer just has to apply a few of the common emoticons such as :) for a smile or :( for a frown, and the face reacts accordingly

As with any form of communication, emotional emails are a two-way street. The software only works when both the Facemail sender and receiver have installed the program.

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