Katie Couric, Watch Your Back

Broadcast news will never again be the same, as Ananova, the world's first computer-generated virtual newscaster, made her somewhat-shaky debut on the Internet yesterday from her home in the United Kingdom.

A year in the making, this virtual broadcaster is a technological marvel, "reading" the news headlines with all of the head and eye motions of today's top news anchors. While her voice inflections are still reminiscent of "computer talk," this first generation of online virtual broadcasters may change forever the way that news is delivered to us on the Internet.

Don't know what a virtual newscaster is? If you can get through the intermittent service breakdowns as they work out the kinks, take a test drive of the new technology and see for yourself. (You'll need RealPlayer software to view a broadcast. You can download the "Basic" version of RealPlayer for free if you don't already have it installed.)

For those of you interested in the technology behind Ananova, "The A-Files" offer a glimpse of her development and hos she was designed.

In a related story, Motorola is developing "Mya," its own "talking Internet" spokesperson. Mya is intended to work with Motorola telephones, and will "speak" the news to you when you dial in to the Web from your Motorola phone.

We can't wait to see what's next . . .

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