Intelligent Machines

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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