Feeds

Say hello to the virtual weatherman

METman

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Emboldened by the BBC's move from traditional flat weather maps to a so-called "virtual reality weather maps", tech boffins are scheming to replace flesh and blood presenters with animated images. Televirtual, a firm based in Norwich, the fictional home of naff presenter Alan Partridge, have developed CGI figures called METman and METgirl and are marketing the technology to stations who can't afford to pay 'real' broadcasters. The firm said it has has signed a deal with an unnamed niche station for the service.

Televirtual managing director Tim Child told the Eastern Daily Press that the technology had applications beyond weather forecasting but creating a virtual "Micheal Fish" had been chosen as an application because of its "relatively small knowledge base and its formulaic nature". We doubt the Met Office would agree with this assessment. Local forecasters quizzed by the Eastern Daily Press highlighted the value of real-life weather presenters.

Jim Dale, broadcaster and senior forecaster at the British Weather Services, told the paper that the public liked to be able to put a human face together with forecasts, if for no other reason than it gave viewers someone to blame if weather predictions turn out wrong. “Often there is a good story to tell behind the weather and it needs a good story teller,” he said.

Televirtual developed the technology in collaboration with British speech scientists and the BBC's weather graphic suppliers, Metra.

METman's entire performance is generated automatically from a few lines of text-based data issued as a meteorological summary, and accompanied by a weather map update. Text is then fed into a speech engine called METvoice which draws from a lexicon of appropriate phrases to formulate a weather forecast in narrative - rather than purely factual - form. Operating as part of Televirtual's RAP animation system, METvoice features an XML-style mark up language stream, triggering lip-synch animations, and "controlling and dictating the 3D animated METman' s moods, expressions, gestures, and screen positions". Child, a broadcaster and former TV newsman, was used as the template of the voice used by METman.

Televirtual also reckons the technology could also be applied to replace quiz show presenters with virtual presenters on virtual sets, slashing costs in the process. The firm reckons the biggest potential market of its technology might be in the home, through incorporation in set top boxes. So-called homecasters would be able to advise on TV viewing schedules, read the news and weather on demand, and trawl the internet on request. They might also be used to read incoming emails to the blind or sign to the deaf. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Och aye! It's the Loch Ness Monster – but only Apple fanbois can see it
Fondleslab-friendly beastie's wake spotted... OR WAS IT?
Japanese boffin EYES up big bucks with strap-on digi-glasses
AgencyGlass saddles user with creepy OLED display
Sleuths find nosy NORKS drones on the Chinternet
UAVs likely to have been made in the Middle Kingdom
Spanish village called 'Kill the Jews' mulls rebranding exercise
Not exactly attractive to the Israeli tourist demographic
Dorian Nakamoto gets $23,000 payout over Bitcoin invention saga
Maintains he didn't create cryptocurrency, but will join community
Pirate Bay's 10 millionth upload: Colour us shocked, a SMUT FLICK
P2P badboys show online piracy is alive and humping
Teen girl arrested with 70-year-old man's four inch weapon inside her
Charged with introducing .22 snubbie to penile facility. It wasn't firing blanks
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.