I first wrote about Israeli widget site Gizmoz in December 2006. At the time, the company hadn’t launched its product to create personalized widgets using users’ pictures and voice, but they had a working demo. Today, the product launches for everyone to use. Gizmoz is also announcing a $6.3 million Series A funding round from Benchmark Capital and Columbia Capital and distribution partnerships with RockYou and Freewebs.
These are animated, talking, 3D images that can be embedded on any website. When compared to what Sitepal and others are doing on the avatar side of things, or Snapvine in the voice recording space, it really shines (see, however, Sitepal’s comment in our previous post for a different viewpoint).
Creating a Gizmoz takes about a minute and requires a single photo of the subject. Gizmoz renders a 3D image of the photo. Users then customize it by adding hair, body, accessories, clothes, etc., and can also distort the face in a number of ways. When you add your voice, via a microphone or by typing in text that is converted to audio. the avatar adds facial expressions, eye blinks, breathing and lip syncs to the voice. Here’s an example using my photo:
The key uses for the product will be to create a welcome clip like the one above, or to create a welcome “voicemail” service where people visiting your site can leave audio messages (like Snapvine).
Gizmoz is built on the Flash platform; however, like Flektor, which was recently acquired by MySpace, all of the code was developed in-house by CEO Eyal Gever and his team over the last four years. That will make it an even more attractive acquisition target for MySpace and others.
The company has also created a cool personalized demo showcasing the announcement: