Vol. 16 : No. 4< >
First "Emotive Application Layer" Provides Photo-Realistic Characters for Online Learning, Training, CRM and Communications
Pulse VeepersTM Creates 3D, Interactive Characters with Human Speech, Expressions and Behaviors at 1/10th the Cost and 1/50th the Bandwidth of Streaming Video
SAN FRANCISCO (May 6, 2002) - Pulse VeepersTM, the fastest, easiest way to create virtual humans and other characters for online deployment, began shipping today from Pulse, a provider of emotive interface technologies. Offering numerous advantages over streaming video, Veepers-based characters feature interactivity, a range of expressions and other behaviors, and represent potential cost savings of up to 90 percent versus video, at as little as two percent of the file size. In addition, Veepers uses a simple "click-and-drag" interface that requires no technical expertise and can produce fully functional virtual characters in less than two minutes each, from a single 2D photo, drawing or other image. Veepers also includes full-torso generation and animation, gestures and advanced facial animation for realistic emotions and speech. Pulse today also announced a partnership that will result in the creation of hundreds of virtual sales agents for real estate giant RE/MAX (see separate release issued today). Veepers demonstrations are available online at www.pulse3d.com/xxxxxx
"Putting a human face on e-learning applications has previously been limited to costly, high bandwidth, high-production streaming video of instructors and other characters," said Thomas Koulopoulos, President of Delphi Group. "The new Pulse Veepers technology overcomes these issues gracefully and cost-effectively with a much higher degree of 'entertainment value' than the existing benchmark for the online learning sector."
Preliminary feedback from initial Veepers customers among Fortune 100 firms indicates that using virtual characters for information delivery vastly improves the effectiveness of such offerings. Usage and completion of Veepers-driven e-learning content, for example, has been shown to increase by as much as 400 and 300 percent, respectively.
"The Pulse Veepers technology represents a significant advancement in e-learning content delivery, effectively leapfrogging existing solutions - including streaming video - in terms of cost, accessibility, and effectiveness," said Michael Brennan, Corporate E-learning Senior Analyst with IDC. "A brief demo of the product blew me away. Pulse's ability to create interactive, photo-real characters in a matter of minutes, with quality rivaling that of high-resolution streaming video, will enhance the value of many e-learning content offerings."
"In speaking with e-learning decision-makers among our enterprise clients, we discovered there was a fundamental gap between real-world learning and online learning that could be bridged only by applying the human factor in an interactive, engaging, always-accessible format," said Fred Angelopoulos, CEO of Pulse. "Now, fully interactive virtual instructors of all types can be made available 24/7 via even a modest Internet connection, and provide a much more rewarding experience for teachers and students, regardless of the subject matter."
Pulse Veepers was designed to allow e-learning systems designers and corporate training departments, among others, to build, deploy and update complete (entire?) interactive characters without requiring programming, animation, 3D modeling or authoring expertise. Beginning with a single 2D photo or other image, Veepers users simply click-and-drag a few "data points" to designate key areas of the Veepers subject's face. The software then maps the subject's image to a 3D model, complete with realistic text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic lip-synching support built in. The resulting virtual character can then deliver audio via the TTS engine in a variety of natural human voices or in their own voice via spoken audio captured using any audio recording utility on PCs. Veepers characters can also display emotions and a range of gestures, and can be instructed to respond in real-time to users' actions. In this way, realistic human interaction and conversation can be simulated, with branching logic that replicates an array of possible outcomes to a given situation.
Pulse Veepers offers numerous substantial advantages over streaming video-based solutions, making it attractive to both existing solutions providers utilizing video as well as others who haven't used video-based solutions in the past due to the limitations of that medium. The primary advantages of Veepers-based solutions include:
Pulse Veepers is available now from Pulse and select reseller partners. Enterprise licenses and complete e-learning applications utilizing the Veepers technology are also available; contact Pulse for more information.
Based in San Francisco, Pulse is a privately funded provider of emotive interface technologies for online learning, training, CRM, medical visualization/instruction, and other visual forms of online communication. With investments from Softbank, AOL/TimeWarner, Autodesk and El Dorado Ventures, Pulse was named a Red Herring Top 50 Private Company. The company's growing client base and strategic partner list includes Apple, AMD, Anheuser Busch, Boeing, Toyota, Cisco, Volvo, Intel, Microsoft, RealNetworks, MTV, Motorola, and AOL/Time Warner. Pulse Entertainment is located at 654 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 348-4000, or www.pulse3d.com