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TheLivingLetters.com Opens at Boston's Museum of Science Children's Software Exhibit

New Internet Animated Theme Park Brings Characters to Life for Thousands of Visitors

NEWTON, Massachusetts (Sept. 28, 2000) -- On the heels of Zoesis Studios' unveiling of TheLivingLetters.com, the animated website has now joined the Cahners ComputerPlace Exhibit at Boston's renowned Museum of Science.

TheLivingLetters.com is a wholesome and fun animated theme park for children ages five to 10 and their families. Zoesis Studios is developing the art and technology of artificial intelligence-based interactive characters, allowing people to become actively engaged with believable characters in a computer-animated world.

"TheLivingLetters.com is being featured at the Info Bytes counter in the Cahners ComputerPlace Exhibit at the Museum of Science," said Barb Harvey, director, Education Programs Administration, Museum of Science. "Cahners ComputerPlace offers visitors an opportunity to experience new technologies such as the artificial intelligence techniques used with TheLivingLetters.com's two playful characters, Otto and Iris."

The computer-animated characters appear to be alive, aware of the user, thoughtful and emotional. The company's founders and creative talent believe TheLivingLetters.com represents a potent art form because it is a new way of combining the power of rich movie-like characters with the interactivity found in video games. Unlike existing video games or movie scripts, however, TheLivingLetters.com incorporates live theater techniques by creating autonomy within the characters' minds. Users, and even the characters' creators, do not know what the characters will do next or how the characters will respond to a particular action.

According to Zoesis Studios Founder and President Joseph Bates, "With TheLivingLetters.com, we have introduced loving, fantastical characters that respond to children in a very real way. We are thrilled to be featured at the Museum of Science where many children have the opportunity to explore this fun and unusual art form." Bates and his team are bringing 15 years of the most advanced artificial intelligence and art research to market with TheLivingLetters.com.

TheLivingLetters.com features the Web's first expanding children's theme park. Called Letter Land, the theme park grows with new interactive attractions added monthly. Currently, Letter Land contains three features: a playful game of Tag, hilarious Opera Singing and high-fashion Costumes. Future attractions include Olympic Soccer and Aerobic Workout.

The initial attractions star two loveable characters named Iris and Otto. Iris is a coy character based on the letter i. She is very good at tag and particular about what she wears. Otto is a warm and funny character based on the letter o. He is not as good as Iris at tag, and his singing skills need some help. The user participates actively and positively in all attractions by playing tag with Iris and Otto, designing Iris's costume or conducting Otto in his operatic efforts. Both Otto and Iris have emotional responses to the user's actions and behave according to their individual personalities. The engaging characters create a positive and fun computer-based experience for children and their parents.

About the Museum of Science
One of the world's largest science and technology centers, the Museum of Science takes a hands-on approach to science, attracting over 1.7 million visitors a year through its vibrant programs and over 550 interactive exhibits. Other features include the Thomson Theater of Electricity, home of the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator; the Charles Hayden Planetarium; the Gilliland Observatory; and the Mugar Omni Theater. Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Its exhibit plan, Science Is an Activity, encourages visitors to learn science by practicing scientific thinking skills. It has been awarded several National Science Foundation grants, setting a national standard for museum exhibit design. Additional information about the Museum of Science is available at www.mos.org.

About Zoesis Studios
Zoesis Studios, located in Newton, Massachusetts, was launched in Pittsburgh in 1996 when Joseph Bates, a senior professor of Computer Science and Fine Art at Carnegie Mellon University, founded the company with three Ph.D. members of his research team and several key artists. The company moved to Boston in 1997, where it continues to hire artists, researchers, and programmers who come from theater, traditional character animation, and the computer science research community. The company received financial backing as well as technical collaboration from Fujitsu Limited, one of the largest computer corporations in the world. A second round of financing will be sought in late 2000. Further information about Zoesis Studios can be located on the World Wide Web at www.zoesis.com.

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