Halfway between sight and sound, between videophones and ordinary phones, there's a twilight zone inhabited by strange creatures -- called avatars. At CES, Sensory is showing PC and cellphone software the displays animated talking heads (based either on real human images or cartoons - your choice). These characters' animated lips move in convincing synchrony to the words playing over the speaker. Spokespeople for the company say the modeling of the physics of speech is good enough to work in PC-based language teaching applications. But the popular application is likely to be on cellphones: You'll be able to watch an animation of the person you're talking to. Whether it's a flattering likeness of the person on the other end or a wacky caricature will be up to users.
The technology might also be used with SMS or IM. Combined with text-to-speech software, it will bring new life to "D00D, THIS CLASS SUCKS."