Pulse Mobile, a San Francisco company that lets you send mobile messages with an animated avatar, has raised $7 million in a second round of financing.
It is aimed for 14 to 24 year olds, but even old folks can have fun with this. There’s nothing your girlfriend or wife will like more than a “I dig you” message from a pig with a Japanese accent.
The service launched in December on Cingular in the U.S., and KDDI in Japan, but you can also use it via your Web browser.
Here’s how it works: You either choose an avatar provided by Pulse’s software — such as a monkey, frog or pig — or you select own avatar. You do this by uploading a picture, perhaps of yourself, which Pulse Mobile then turns into an image with three-dimensional, animated qualities. (On your mobile phone, you send your picture to an SMS code, and Pulse sends back a link with your avatar.) You can choose to make your avatar nod, shake or wink. You then send a message to your friend using MMS format (which is SMS for multimedia, and now supported by most phones), and choose what accent the avatar speaks in when it is delivered to your friend. You get a sense of how it works here (type in a message and hit “preview”).
Pulse has other applications worth noting. One uses text-to-voice technology to let you have an avatar read out your text messages on your phone, PC or other device — offered in partnership with a Comverse Technologies. Another is wallpaper that you can customize (see example) and having 3D qualities. More details here.
Investors included Anthem Venture Partners, Draper Associates, Shea Ventures, Hikari Tsushin Group in Japan, and several other Asian and European investors.