Recent visitors to NBA.com found Dr. J stepping out of their Web browsers onto their computer screens to urge that they tune in to the NBA Finals. Or at least that was the special effect conjured up by a streaming video message featuring Julius Erving.
Less-famous figures have been showing up on computer desktops to promote new features at TVGuide.com or to point out Father's Day offerings at Discovery.com. The attention-getting images are the work of a small Owings Mills company, Rovion Inc.
The company was founded in 2000 in Lexington, Ky., using a clunkier version of its BlueStream technology that required users to download special software. The current version can transmit a video up to 20 seconds long that seems to pop out of any browser equipped with the widely used Flash animation software.
The company moved to Maryland as part of the deal to recruit its chief executive, Leonard J. Ostroff, who signed on seven months ago from a venture-capital operation owned by the Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, for which he was chief operating officer. "I didn't want to move my family, and the ability to get around the East Coast is so much easier out of Baltimore than Lexington," Ostroff said.
He said that privately held Rovion is not yet profitable but declined to discuss its finances. He rejected the notion that BlueStream is a technological one-trick pony that will eventually lose its gee-whiz magic.
"The technology can be used in so many different ways beyond, 'Hey, I'm here, click on me,' " Ostroff said. The video personalities can provide step-by-step instructions for filling out online forms, answer frequently asked questions or train employees.