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Vivienne the virtual girlfriend
Software maker Artificial Life pitches a new 'girlfriend' for men -- on their cell phones: report.
February 24, 2005: 9:24 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Virtual girlfriend Vivienne loves flowers and chocolates just like a real girlfriend, but doesn't cause heartache.

The so-called "girlfriend," developed by software maker Artificial Life Inc. of Hong Kong, is the product of computerized voice synthesis, streaming video and text messages and will be available to third generation, or 3G, cell phone users, according to the New York Times.

For a monthly fee of $6, not including the airtime costs paid to cell phone operators, 3G cell phone users can talk to Vivienne any time, buy her virtual gifts, marry her in a virtual ceremony and even get a virtual mother-in-law, the newspaper said.

Some virtual gifts are included in the monthly fee, but others can cost 50 cents to $2 extra, though the mother-in-law is no additional charge, the report added.

The 3G technology allows cell phone system operators to transmit voice and data faster and cheaper than existing systems once the initial investments are made.

With the advantage of faster data transmission rates made possible by the technology, Vivienne appears to be three-dimensional and moves through many different settings including a restaurant, shopping mall and airport.

She can converse on 35,000 topics and can translate six languages, according to the report.

Although 3G phones currently account for less than 2 percent of all handsets, they are growing quickly, according to industry specialists cited in the report.

Vivienne is scheduled to become available in Singapore and Malaysia by May, in western Europe by late spring and possibly in a few American cities by the end of the year, according to the report.

Vivienne may be followed by a virtual boyfriend for women and then a virtual boyfriend for men.  Top of page

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