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Zoesis Studios Launches New Activities at TheLivingLetters.com, the Internet's Only Expanding Theme Park For Children

Interactive Characters Reach New Levels of Emotion and Awareness

NEWTON, Massachusetts (Jan. 16, 2001) Zoesis Studios, an animation studio of actors, playwrights, composers, artists and computer scientists dedicated to bringing computer characters to life, today introduced two new interactive attractions at TheLivingLetters.com. The award-winning website is a free, wholesome and fun animated theme park for children ages five to 11 and their families.

TheLivingLetters.com theme park, called Letter Land, grows with new activities every eight weeks. Today, "Magic Snowball" and "Photoshoot" join five premier features released in Fall 2000. Zoesis artists have endowed the interactive character in Magic Snowball with compelling feelings and awareness never before seen on the Web.

The attractions star two loveable characters named Iris and Otto. Iris is a coy character based on the letter i. Otto is a warm and goofy character based on the letter o. In the new attractions, the user participates actively and positively by engaging Otto in a whimsical game of volleyball on ice and by snapping pictures of Otto and Iris as they vie for the camera's attention. Taking Zoesis art and technology to new levels of sophistication, the creators have made Otto more responsive, emotional and alive than in previous attractions.

In the five other Letter Land activities, the user plays goalie on a soccer field, helps Otto work out to cool techno music, plays tag with Iris and Otto, designs Iris's costume, and conducts Otto in his operatic efforts. Both Otto and Iris have emotional responses to the user's actions and behave like real, individual personalities. The engaging characters create a positive and fun computer-based experience for children and their parents.

One young user was so enamored of the characters that she crafted her own clay models of Otto and Iris. Another exclaimed "Enjoy, but don't show your parents because they'll hog it for themselves."

The Zoesis Studios team brings 15 years of the most advanced artificial intelligence and art research to market with TheLivingLetters.com.

Zoesis Studios is developing the art and technology of artificial intelligence-based interactive characters, called Interactive Theater, which allows people to become actively engaged with believable characters in a computer-animated world.

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.

TheLivingLetters.com is currently free of charge.

Technical Requirements
A typical 200MHz IBM-compatible computer or later model running Microsoft Windows 95 or 98 and a 28.8 kbps or better modem with Internet access using a standard Web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape Version 4 or higher) are recommended for optimum performance. No unusual multimedia accessories, hardware or software are necessary.

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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