Virtual News Anchor

Virtual News Anchor

So the guys at Northwestern University have put a new spin on the news aggregator. News At Seven pulls feeds from the Internet along with relevant photos. The feeds are then formatted into a half-hour long news show that is read by–get this–the virtual character Alex from the game Half-Life 2.

A few of the videos are available online through the link above (YouTube-style). The show I queued up starts with the NPR news update music and proceeds to a Dateline-like studio where Alex rather boringly stands in front of a screen that displays the day’s news. Her voice quality is decent, not seamless like the voice-acted role she plays in the game, of course, but not as disjointed as the “Stephen Hawking” voice.

Entertaining, but is it the future of news reporting? Perhaps, though I doubt an aggregator can formulate the stories as well as a human being. I know from personal experience that journalism is not the most belletristic form of art, but it still requires a fair amount of intuition and style, things a computer cannot capture. For basic news reports and briefs, perhaps. But entire articles and shows?


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