Cops rev training with 3-D slides

Paul is one of the Vox Proxy animated characters that the Champaign, Ill., police department uses to perk up PowerPoint shows.

They got no kick in Champaign when police officers booted up tired old Microsoft PowerPoint educational slide shows'that is, not until the Illinois city's police department started adding 3-D talking characters to the slides.

Lt. Michael Paulus, who manages training and development, said police presentations now feature cartoon figures from the Vox Proxy add-in for PowerPoint, sold by Right Seat Software Inc. of Golden, Colo.

Vox Proxy is written in the APL language developed by IBM Corp. in the 1960s, said Tom Atkins, president of Right Seat Software.

The $199 Vox Proxy CD-ROM has 16 characters, including four from Microsoft Corp.: a genie, a magician, a parrot and a robot. Paul, shown here, was developed by La Cantoche Productions of Paris and can make 92 types of motions. Users can download other characters from such as Squidge the Goblin, designed by E-Clips Animations of Canterbury, Australia, and La Cantoche's Claude the Bear and Plany the Airplane.

Gets noticed

The Vox Proxy characters give life and interactivity to PowerPoint presentations, Paulus said. He has programmed a budget presentation with a character that pops up to ask the chief of police, 'So, chief, is the budget keeping up with training?' He has also programmed the character to call out specific students' names.

'If you just want to put on a slide show, PowerPoint is fine,' he said. 'People look at a Vox Proxy presentation and their jaws drop.'

Paulus said he especially likes the customizable speeches. 'I can record my voice, save it as a WAV file, and change the pitch or speed,' he said. 'The character's mouth will move so it looks like it's saying the words.'

Paulus runs Vox Proxy on a notebook PC from Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. under Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and on a desktop PC under Win 2000.

'I used to use Vox Proxy with PowerPoint XP, but it had a hitch in the giddy-up when you loaded it,' he said.

'PowerPoint is ripe for this,' Atkins said. 'Everybody does the same stuff with it. That's why presentations get boring.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.


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