Virtual reality news anchors are a new trend in China’s broadcasting field.

China News Agency Uses AI Anchor with Broadcaster’s Likeness

“Hello, you are watching English news program. I am AI news anchor in Beijing,” the computer-generated host announced in a robotic voice at that start of its English-language broadcast.

China’s state news agency has debuted a virtual reality anchor designed to deliver the news 24 hours a day, based on the image of a real-life Xinhua anchor named Zhang Zhao.

Xinhua unveiled its “artificial intelligence news anchor” Wednesday at an internet conference in the eastern city of Wuzhen. Developed by Xinhua and Chinese search engine company Sogou, the anchor simulates the anchor’s voice, facial expressions and gestures. The AI news reader “learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor,” according to Xinhua.

The news agency said the simulations are being used on its website and social media platforms to “reduce news production costs and improve efficiency.”

“I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted,” it said in an introductory video.

Users of China’s micro-blogging site Weibo were not impressed by the virtual presenter. “(His) voice is too stiff, and there are problems with the pauses,” said one user.

To read more of the CNN story by Helen Regan, click here.