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Teddy Goes High Tech

The major conference of the year is in Australia, but the boss won’t spring for tickets. How to be in two places at once? Enter Telebuddy-a high-tech teddy bear that lends its eyes, ears and voice to remote users via the Web. The brainchild of researchers at two German organizations-the Computer Graphics Center in Darmstadt and the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics in Rostock-Telebuddy’s nervous system includes a camera, a microphone, speakers and robotics, all linked via radio to a local computer connected to the Web. Remote users can see and hear what Telebuddy does as the person who carries it in a backpack ambles through the exhibit halls and chats with passersby. The office-bound person can also type in questions, which Telebuddy translates into synthetic speech to provide a live chat interface. Telebuddy attended its first conference last July, and its developers are exploring entertainment uses.

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