Avatars in Your IMs

ICQ and Oddcast announced this week the joint launch of customizable
animated avatars designed to make instant messaging more engaging for ICQ
users.

ICQ, an online community and long-time instant messaging service provider
owned by America Online , and Oddcast, an outfit that
develops and distributes conversational character software products, will
offer customizable animated avatars to liven up instant messaging sessions.

Users of the instant messaging service can choose
from 13 customizable male and female human characters, as well as creature characters, which include holiday icons, aliens and dragons. The companies also announced the creation of the ICQ Devil Factory, which lets users change their avatars using Xtraz, Oddcast conversational character software.

The avatars can also be embedded in users messages and can exchange
stock verbal sayings with correspondents recorded in both male and female
voices. The first-generation voices will include sayings, such as, “I’m
happy,” “take a hike” and “I’m in love.”

“The instant messaging experience is further personalized,
more creative and more fun,” Adi Sideman, CEO, Oddcast, said in a statement.
“And with Xtraz technology, ICQ users can create their own character using a
simple tool that is embedded right in the desktop ICQ client.”

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